Cappella della Sindone Reopened

Guarino Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Turin, Restored


The Chapel of the Holy Shroud reopened this weekend after a decades-long restoration campaign. The chapel had first closed in May 1990 when a small piece of marble detached from a cornice and crashed to the floor. Repairs proceeded sporadically over the next several years. In April 1997, the restoration was nearly complete when a devastating fire hit the chapel. The wooden boards on some of the scaffolding caught fire, for reasons never fully determined. The great height of the chapel acted as a chimney to pull the flames upward and fan the fire. Although the marble could not burn, it cracked and changed color because of the intense heat. Splintered fragments of the originally black Frabosa marble fell to the pavement. As later emerged, the structure of the chapel and its dome were largely intact, but the subsequent restoration was fraught with conflicts, setbacks, and a lack of transparency. After multiple missed deadlines, the restoration is complete and the chapel accessible to visitors.

Position of the Cappella della Sindone between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Palazzo Reale, Turin

Located between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Royal Palace in Turin, access to the chapel was originally provided from both buildings. That meant that members of the Savoy dynasty could enter the chapel directly from the palace, but also that the faithful could enter from the cathedral, as well as view the chapel directly above and behind the high altar of the cathedral. During much of the twentieth century, though, visitors entered from the church side, via the stairways from the two doors flanking the high altar of the cathedral, while the palace doorway was rarely used. With the reopening, the chapel now forms part of the Musei Reali in the Royal Palace, and will be accessed from the palace side, with the cathedral doors closed. The shroud itself is now stored elsewhere.

The portals in the cathedral giving access to the stairways leading to the Shroud Chapel will now remain locked. Source: TripAdvisor

While the successfully completed restoration must be seen as a triumph – reinstating one of the most stupendous spaces in early modern European architecture – the incorporation of the chapel in a museum circuit is symptomatic for our age. Divorced from its relation to the church, devoid of the relic that originally prompted its construction, Guarini’s chapel has become yet another event for cultural tourism.

Beginning Tuesday, 2 October, the chapel may be visited as part of the a general admission ticket to the Musei Reali Torino.

 

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Further reading:

● The Art Newspaper provides a convenient English summary of the restoration campaign.

● John Beldon Scott’s 2003 book Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) remains essential reading for the historic background of the Shroud Chapel and the earlier repositories of the relic. See also my review of Scott in Annali di architettura 16 (2004).

● My other posts on the Shroud of Turin.

The Remains of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale, Paris, in 1900

A Cadastre Plan Now Online


Earlier this year, the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris (BHVP) made some image collections pertaining to various historic buildings in Paris available online. The holdings may be searched via the library’s own online catalogue, or through the Gallica portal of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The files (recueils iconographiques) consist of prints and drawings relating to each building grouped together and pasted on large sheets of cardboard – a kind of analogue forerunner of Pinterest boards.

The Theatine church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale, designed by Guarino Guarini, is documented in six images pasted on three boards. Most of these are already known in one form or another, but a cadastre plan dating to 1900 is particularly interesting. It provides additional information about the position of the unfinished church in the block between Quai Voltaire and the Rue de Lille. The church plan, signified with pink-red cross hatching, is superimposed on the plans of the buildings that were built on the site after Sainte-Anne was securlarized and partially demolished in the early nineteenth century.

These nineteenth-century buildings incorporated portions of the church structure, and remain on the site today, with few alterations in respect to the plan of 1900.

To see other plans of the site for comparison – Blondel’s 1752 engraved plan, and a satellite view of the block on Google Maps today – visit Guarini Sites Outside of Turin.

To learn more about Sainte-Anne-la-Royale, see the posts on this website tagged with “Paris“.

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Image (above): Recueil iconographique. Couvent des Théatins (Paris), detail with cadastre plan of 1900
Source: Ville de Paris / BHVP / public domain

EAHN 2018 Program Available and Registration Open

Fifth International Meeting of the European Architectural History Network
Tallinn, 13-16 June 2018

The detailed program for the European Architectural HIstory Network (EAHN) Fifth International Meeting is now available on the conference website. Conference events include keynote talks by Christine Stevenson, Krista Kodres, and Reinhold Martin, as well as a fascinating program of tours around Tallinn and other sites in Estonia. Twenty-eight panels and roundtables, organized in five sessions and five thematic tracks, furnish rich content across a range of periods, methodologies, and geographies.

Conference registration is open, with special early bird registration rates available until 30 March. Late registration at higher rates will be available until 20 May. The conference website has complete information about registration categories and rates.

Guarini – Saarinen?

The Church of the Immacolata Concezione, Turin, and Modernism

In a December 2009 review of an exhibition on Eero Saarinen published in the Brooklyn Rail, the art critic Joseph Masheck wrote about the relation of certain aspects of modernism to the twentieth-century “rediscovery of the Baroque.” Mascheck, who was awarded the 2018 Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art by the College Art Association last week, specifically compared Saarinen’s forms with those of Guarino Guarini:

The Finnish-American Saarinen (1910-1961) is not unfamiliar in this context, if only owing to those who seem to think that the TWA Terminal (1958-62) at what is now John F. Kennedy International Airport must not be modernist because modernism means rectilinearity, and even they can see that this building is as curvy as Gina Lollobrigida.

“when I teach the building I show the similarity of its ground plan to the interpenetrating lobes of the plan of Guarino Guarini’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, Turin”

Surely a main spiritual “function” of the building was to coddle against Reisefieber the many travelers who some fifty years ago were waiting to take their first flight. Well, who said modernism can’t be polymorphous perverse! Actually, I’ve always thought that building had vital entailments, not only in regard to contemporary art—notably the Louisiana-born, ever-verging-on-tacky José de Rivera (1904-1985), whose curvaceous, revolving polished chrome sculptures are rather embarrassingly coincident with Saarinen’s forms, if not his saving amplitude—but also to art history. Ever since it was new it has seemed to me that the voluptuousness of its modernism, following upon Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel (1950-55), related just as vitally to the rediscovery of the Baroque, of which 18th-century rationalists had, one thought, definitively disposed. To this day, when I teach the building I show the similarity of its ground plan to the interpenetrating lobes of the plan of Guarino Guarini’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, Turin, of 1672-97, which was popularly accessible at the time of the terminal’s construction through Henry A. Millon’s still fascinating Baroque and Rococo Architecture (Braziller, 1961).

In fact, Millon deemed the Immacolata Concezione “Guarini’s most influential church design,” referring to its progeny in the eighteenth-century German-speaking regions. “The space, although violently shaped,” he noted, “is not interrupted but merges into an incredibly dynamic and expressive entity.” The same could also be said of Saarinen’s TWA terminal. Even more than the ground plan, Saarinen’s roof recalls Guarini’s vault – pinched and depressed in the center, and billowing upward as it expands at either end.

The Immacolata Concezione – technically only attributed to Guarini, but convincingly so – was not widely known before its appearance in Millon’s Baroque and Rococo Architecture. Notably, it did not feature in Rudolf Wittkower’s Pelican survey Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750 (1958). While planning for the TWA terminal began well before the publication of Millon’s text, leaving any causal connection between the flight center and the Turinese church largely speculative, Guarini’s design clearly intrigued another prominent architect of the 1960s. Robert Venturi went on to include the Immacolata Concezione in his Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), where it was the only building by Guarini represented. Venturi characterized the church as “a duality in plan and yet a unity,” citing Millon’s textbook as the source for his illustration. As part of Venturi’s influential book, the church entered the standard historical repertoire of late modernism and nascent postmodernism.

Further Reading:

Chiesa della Immacolata Concezione on the Città e Cattedrali website.

Chiesa della Immacolata Concezione on the Museo Torino website.

Immacolata Concezione as part of the “Documentazione Chiese Storiche” on the website of the Associazione Guarino Guarini.

Photo gallery of the church, on the website of Studio di Architettura Momo, responsible for restoration of the facade in 2006.

● Henry A. Millon, Baroque and Rococo Architecture (New York: George Braziller, 1961). [On the Immacolata Concezione, see pp. 22-23.]

● Luciano Tamburini, Le chiese di Torino: dal Rinascimento al Barocco, 2nd ed. (Turin: Edizioni Angolo Manzoni, 2002): 269-278.

● Henry A. Millon, “La chiesa dell’Immacolata Concezione a Torino,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, H. A. Millon, eds., Guarino Guarini (Turin: U. Allemandi,2006): 365-375.

Building Trades in Seventeenth-Century Bologna

Francesco Curti, Virtù et arti essercitate in Bologna (Trades Practiced in Bologna), Plate 6 (Building Trades), mid-17th century.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), M.69.7.1g / public domain
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

This print – one of a group of twenty depicting various trades – provides an excellent overview of the different kinds of workers found at an early modern construction site. Here, the specific context is mid-seventeenth-century Bologna, and the artist Francesco Curti illustrates around a dozen specific jobs, most conveniently labeled.

Misuratore and architetto: detail of above image

The range runs from the foppish architect – identified as “architetto” on the sheet of paper he holds – through the masons (“muratori”), painter (“imbianchitore”), stonecutter (“tagliapietre”), and unskilled manual laborer (“manouale”) apparently mixing mortar. Other figures include donkey drivers (“asinari”), a sawyer (“segantino”), a kiln operator (“fornasaro“), a plaster maker (“gessaruolo”), and a carpenter (“falegname”). Many of these vocational designations varied regionally – for instance, the “tagliapietre” was elsewhere known as a “scalpellino” – but the jobs performed were similar all across Italy.

The man standing to the left of the architect is most likely a misuratore, a building surveyor who measures the completed work for calculating the materials used and thus the costs. He holds his attribute, the measuring rod, but is not explicitly labeled with his occupation. Nonetheless, his role was central to the successful practical and financial administration of the building site.

The image gives an unusual glimpse into an active cantiere in Seicento Italy, and can serve as a valuable illustrated glossary for countless construction documents of the period.

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Do note the related plate with artists – painter, sculptor, relief carver, and engraver – but also merchants, soldiers, artillery specialists, and a letter carrier!

Entangled Histories, Multiple Geographies Proceedings Published

Papers from EAHN 2015, Belgrade

Most of the papers presented in October 2015 at the European Architectural History Network regional thematic conference Entangled Histories, Multiple Geographies are now available in the conference proceedings. At just over 300 pages, the proceedings include thirty-seven papers, many with numerous illustrations.

Contributions consider chronologies from ancient, medieval, and early modern through modern and contemporary, with topics examining issues such as cultural transfer, historiography, restoration, identity, and the politics of conflict. The conference featured a distinct emphasis on central and eastern Europe, as well as the eastern Mediterranean region, although other geographies were also represented.

Click here to download the EAHN 2015 proceedings.

Precious Stones: Fragments of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud

New Sculpture by Giulio Paolini

Last week, the Turin cultural sponsoring consortium Consulta per la Valorizzazione dei Beni Artistici e Culturali di Torino announced the upcoming work Pietre preziose that it commissioned from the artist Giulio Paolini. The sculpture, to be installed in the Giardini Reali behind the Palazzo Reale in Turin, will incorporate architectural fragments of Guarino Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which was severely damaged by fire in 1997. The sculpture will be unveiled on 26 October.

The Consulta prepared a preview video of the work (below) and issued a press release describing the project. To judge by the video, the work will consist of the architectural fragments of black Frabosa marble arranged on a stylized plan of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, with additional new figural elements. The piece should be a highlight of the newly restored royal gardens, adjacent to the palace wing containing the chapel.

Additional reporting on the preview of Pietre preziose is available in La Stampa and La Repubblica. Currently, restoration of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud itself is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Another Crumbling Facade – This Time in Turin

Minor Damage to Facade of San Lorenzo

Last week, the Turin newspaper La Stampa reported that some stucco fell off a rusticated quoin-like corner pilaster of the facade of San Lorenzo. Fortunately no one was injured when the debris landed on Piazza Castello below. The incident recalls the one in Modena last year, when portions of a corner capital at Guarino Guarini’s Theatine casa of San Vincenzo (now a courthouse) broke off and landed on the Canal Grande street below.

The photo gallery below takes advantage of La Stampa‘s generous Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensing for local reporting to share some images of the damage.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The San Lorenzo facade predates Guarini’s arrival in Turin in late 1666. It is already visible in close to its current form in a fresco in the Stanza delle Magnificenze (c. 1662-65) at the Castello del Valentino. Originally an open portico on the ground floor with rooms above, the openings to the piazza were walled up in 1661, creating what now serves as the church’s narthex. Guarini’s church thus rose behind this preexisting portico block when it was constructed from 1670-1680.

Guarini’s own plans for the facade called for covering the existing structure with a kind of sheathing of pilasters, columns, and rich ornaments, possibly inspired by an unexecuted design (c. 1643) by Antonio Maurizio Valperga for the facade of the adjacent Palazzo Ducale, now Palazzo Reale. When Guarini’s design, too, remained unexecuted, and with few other intervening changes, the church facade still essentially corresponds to the state seen in the fresco at Valentino (view the fresco in the video at the bottom of this post).

San Lorenzo facade comparison

Comparison of Guarini’s proposed facade for San Lorenzo, Turin, with the extant building
Sources: Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin: Per gl’Eredi Gianelli, 1686), plate 5 (Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive /public domain); and Wikimedia Commons / public domain

As in Modena, one hopes that this minor incident serves as a wake-up call for the authorities to invest in necessary maintenance, if for no other reason than to protect the public from falling debris. (They should be well aware of the damage: the office of the relevant Soprintendenza is in the building next door.)

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Further reading:

Henry A. Millon, review of G. M. Crepaldi, La Real Chiesa Di San Lorenzo in Torino, Turin, 1963, in Art Bulletin 47, no. 4 (Dec. 1965): 531-532; here 531.

Susan Klaiber, Guarino Guarini’s Theatine Architecture, Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University, 1993): 204-207; 216-218; 277-280.

Susan Klaiber, “Le fonti per San Lorenzo,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 328-337.

Call for Papers: EAHN 2018 in Tallinn

European Architectural History Network Fifth International Meeting, 13-16 June 2018

Tallinn, Toompea moat
Source: Europeana Collections / Harjumaa Muuseum / Public Domain (CC0 1.0)

Although I am not involved with planning the next biennial EAHN conference, I am delighted to note the rich and stimulating Call for Papers for the Fifth International Meeting in Tallinn next year. The conference website describes the twenty-seven panels in detail. If you prefer a PDF, download it here. Take a look, there’s something for (almost) everybody!

Submission deadline: 30 September 2017

Abstracts are invited for the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting, in Tallinn, June 2018. Please submit your abstract by 30 September 2017 to one of the sessions and round tables listed below. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted straight to the session convenor(s). Include your name, affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

Sessions will consist of either five papers or of four papers and a respondent with time for questions and dialogue at the end. Each paper should take no more than 20 minutes to present. Abstracts for session presentations should define the subject and summarize the argument to be made in the presented paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive rather than descriptive.

Round tables will have no more than six participants plus chairs and an extended time for dialogue, debate and discussion among participants and their public. Each discussant will have 10 minutes to present a position. Abstracts for round tables should summarize the position to be taken.

Papers may not have been previously published, nor presented in public. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process.

Session and roundtable chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals and comment upon accepted ones no later than 31 October 2017. Authors of accepted paper proposals must submit the complete text of their papers to their chairs by 15 February 2018. Chairs may suggest editorial revisions to a paper or position in order to make it satisfy session or round table guidelines and will return it with comments to the speaker by 15 March 2018. Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper or discussion position from the program if the speaker has refused to comply with these guidelines. It is the responsibility of the chair(s) to inform speakers of these guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for both a session and participation in this meeting. Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own registration, travel and expenses to Tallinn, Estonia.

Consult the EAHN 2018 conference website for full details about deadlines, venue, and other conference information.

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Additional Guidelines for Paper Sessions:

No paper may have more than two authors. Final presented papers should be no more than 2500 words, although texts of up to 4000 words, including notes, may be included in the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Additional Guidelines for Roundtables:

Initial position statements should be no more than 1250 words. Position statements of up to 2500 words including notes will be accepted for the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Deadlines:

Submissions of paper proposals and roundtable discussions to session chairs:
30 September 2017

Communication by session chairs of acceptance or rejection and comments on accepted abstracts:
31 October 2017

Submission of Final Edited Abstracts to Session and Conference Chairs:
30 November 2017

Submission of Complete Draft of Paper or Position Statement to Session Chairs:
15 February 2018

Comments on Papers and Position Statements to be Returned by Session Chairs:
15 March 2018

Submission of Final Paper or Position Statement to Chair and, if to be included in Conference Proceeding, to Conference Chair:
1 April 2018

Download CFP
Click here to download this CFP in PDF form.

San Nicolò da Tolentino: Study Day in Venice

14 June 2017
Fulvio Lenzo has organized the upcoming study day I Tolentini da convento a università at the IUAV in Venice. The event will examine the history of the church and convent of San Nicolò da Tolentino from its origins as a Theatine church designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi to its current incarnation as the IUAV School of Architecture.

I am looking forward to participating with my talk “‘The First of the Congregation’: From the Tolentini toward a Theatinerarchitektur.” Other speakers will offer detailed looks at key episodes in the history of the church, the convent, and the restorations by Daniele Calabi and Carlo Scarpa.

Download the complete program here or view it on the IUAV website.

San Nicolò da Tolentino, Venice, facade by Andrea Tirali, begun 1706
Photo: Susan Klaiber / Creative Commons License