Janus and Chronos at the New Year

Giulio Romano, Victory, Janus, Chronos and Gaea, preparatory drawing for the Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, ca. 1532-1534
Source: The J. Paul Getty Musuem / Getty Open Content Program

At the threshold between the years 2018 and 2019, Giulio Romano’s group of Janus and Chronos in a preparatory drawing for the Sala dei Giganti at the Palazzo del Te seems a particularly appropriate emblem. They belong to the gathering of gods who have just vanquished the giants, toppling everything in their path. Janus – who gives January its name – looks backward (as an old man) and forward (as a youth), viewing the past as well as the future. Chronos (“Father Time”) strides ahead purposefully, while Victory seems about to place the victor’s crown on his head, marking the ultimate triumph of the inexorable march of time. (The position of this crown is shifted in the executed fresco.) Finally, at the lower right, a wistful Gaea looks on in horror at the violent end of the giants.

After the upheavals of 2018, here’s hoping that Janus sees a bright future for us all in January and throughout the rest of 2019!

Bernini disegnatore

The proceedings of the conference Bernini disegnatore: nuove prospettive di ricerca – held in Rome in April 2015 – have now been published. The collection includes initial results of my collaboration with Tod Marder on his new edition of Heinrich Brauer and Rudolf Wittkower, Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini, 2 vols. (Berlin: Keller, 1931). Our essay examines the historiography of Brauer and Wittkower’s classic catalogue of Bernini’s drawings, and situates it within the intellectual biographies of its authors. Other contributions consider the history of the various repositories of Bernini’s drawings, the typologies of Bernini’s drawings, and case studies of drawings for specific projects by the artist.

From the publisher’s description:

I disegni del Bernini offrono una prospettiva privilegiata, un’opportunità di affrontare l’arte del cavaliere nella sua universalità come scultore, pittore e architetto, ma anche come inventore per le arti decorative, e ci permettono uno sguardo intimo nel laboratorio del genio, capace di adattare le sue invenzioni a circostanze in continua evoluzione e alle domande pressanti dei suoi committenti. Mentre l’esecuzione dei grandi progetti era delegata sempre più a una schiera di collaboratori altamente specializzati, il tratto personalissimo dei disegni ci riporta alla mano e al pensiero del Bernini. Sono disegni preparatori che fanno trasparire l’iter concettuale di occasioni grandi e piccole, ma anche studi di struggente naturalismo, ritratti parlanti di straordinaria vivacità e quei grandi disegni autonomi dell’ultimo Bernini, ormai non più semplice segno grafico ma strumento di contemplazione mistica.

* * *

Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Tod A. Marder, Sebastian Schütze, editors, Bernini disegnatore: nuove prospettive di ricerca, Storia dell’Arte (Rome: Campisano Editore, 2017).


Prefazione – Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Tod A. Marder, Sebastian Schütze


Brauer and Wittkower and the Corpus Berninianum – Susan Klaiber, Tod A. Marder

Wittkower, Bernini e il Gran Teatro del Barocco: il «progettar disegnando», la Verità e l’esempio del Pantheon – Marcello Fagiolo

I disegni di Giovan Lorenzo Bernini nelle collezioni dell’Istituto Centrale per la Grafica: considerazioni sul volume Gualtieri-Corsini – Rita Bernini

I disegni di Bernini e della sua scuola nella Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana – Barbara Jatta

Il disegno nell’epistolario di Giovan Lorenzo Bernini – Giovanni Morello


Bernini and the Creative Process: The Presentation Drawings – Louise Rice

I disegni del Cavaliere: l’arte del dono e i suoi rituali tra amicizia, familiarità e grande diplomazia – Sebastian Schütze

Le fontane di Bernini: disegni e bozzetti – Maria Grazia Bernardini

Bernini e il disegno di architettura – Elisabeth Kieven

Die ›fehlenden‹ Architekturzeichnungen Berninis. Kunstgeschichtliche Probleme und Verallgemeinerungen: Berninis ›kursierende Gedanken‹ – Werner Oechslin

Bernini per Parigi: disegnare progetti «dal vero» – Daniela Del Pesco


«Quatuor columnis non plus ultra»: Giovan Lorenzo Bernini e i disegni per il baldacchino di San Pietro a Roma (1624-1633) – Maria Grazia D’Amelio

Bernini inventore. Disegni berniniani per arti decorative – Francesco Petrucci

A Proposal for Two Drawings by Bernini in Leipzig – Ann Sutherland Harris

Giovan Lorenzo Bernini e l’elefante della Minerva: la storia e i personaggi attraverso i disegni della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana – Manuela Gobbi

Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque

Deadline 16 July 2017

I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. The topic for this year’s edition is “The Portrait, 1680-1750.” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

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The Fellowships Program aims to assign individual fellowships to promote original studies on the Age of Baroque, also in an international comparative perspective.

Research proposals for the 2017 call will need to pertain to the following theme:

The Portrait
Mandatory formulas, fortunate source of various models, vehicle of the affirmation of new directions in the narration of identity and in the culture of representation for figures, places, and contexts. The theme of the Portrait (as a genre, a product, an allegory, a testimony, and a memory) may be applied to various disciplines connected to historical, political, philosophical, musical, literary, historical-artistic, and historical-architectural culture, also with regard to art collecting, museology, art literature and treatises. The research proposal, unpublished and original, will need to focus on the period 1680 to 1750, it may follow a diachronic or synchronic approach depending on the scientific requirements of the project.

The competition is open to researchers born after 1st January 1982 holding a university or master’s degree, or other equivalent degrees, issued by an Italian or equivalent foreign University.

Priority will be given to applicants holding a PhD or equivalent from an Italian or foreign university.

Applications will be submitted exclusively using the forms available online and following the procedure indicated on the Foundation’s website under Bandi/ Borse di studio sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco 2017 at www.fondazione1563.it.

Applications must be submitted by 16 July 2017 at h 24.00 (midnight).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

Baroque Turin in Study Sketches

Piedmontese Baroque architecture – indeed any Baroque architecture – never figured widely in the drawings prepared by nineteenth-century architects on study tours of Italy. With the increasing availability of open access digitized image collections, one can search and compare thousands of such sketches and more formal studies in repositories such as Gallica, the architecture museums of the TU Munich or TU Berlin*, and the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth collection. These sheets typically depict monuments of classical antiquity, the medieval period, or the Renaissance, but occasionally one finds examples recording Baroque buildings or urban ensembles.

A selection of such rare representations of Baroque Turin follows, including two cases of medieval / Baroque hybrid structures: Palazzo Madama, and Juvarra’s upper story and attic for the cathedral bell tower.**

Palazzo Barolo

Nohl Maximilian (1830-1863), Palazzo Barolo, Turin: Perspektivische Innenansicht. Bleistift auf Papier, 20,6 x 30,7 cm (inkl. Scanrand). Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 13931.

Nohl Maximilian (1830-1863), Palazzo Barolo, Turin: Perspektivische Innenansicht. Bleistift auf Papier, 20,6 x 30,7 cm (inkl. Scanrand). Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 13931. Public domain mark.

Palazzo Madama / Castello

Nohl Maximilian (1830-1863), Palazzo Madama, Turin: Ansicht. Bleistift auf Karton, 12,2 x 17 cm. Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 13895.

Nohl Maximilian (1830-1863), Palazzo Madama, Turin: Ansicht. Bleistift auf Karton, 12,2 x 17 cm. Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 13895. Public domain mark.

Stiehl Otto (1860-1940), Skizzen- und Fotoalbum 4: Palazzo delle due torri, Turin: Details. Bleistift auf Papier, (inkl. Scanrand). Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 57189,008.

Stiehl Otto (1860-1940), Skizzen- und Fotoalbum 4: Palazzo delle due torri, Turin: Details. Bleistift auf Papier, (inkl. Scanrand). Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin Inv. Nr. 57189,008. Public domain mark.

Palazzo Civico / Piazza Palazzo di Città

m_digitam_0892584 Zanth TUM

Karl Ludwig Wilhelm von Zanth, “Mercato delle Erbe” in Turin
Source: Architekturmuseum der TU München, Signatur zant-1-27 , CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


Henri Labrouste, Plan de la Municipalité de turin [sic] et de la place du Marché qui la précède, from Voyage en Italie, 1825-1830
Source: Gallica /Bibliothèque nationale de France

Castello del Valentino

Labrouste BnF

Henri Labrouste, Le Valentin, près Turin, from Voyage en Italie, 1825-1830
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France


Edward Lear, “From the long alley’s latticed shade”; Turin, (Italy.), after 1872. Not an architect, Lear prepared this drawing for his edition of the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Source: Yale Center for British Art. Public domain.

Palazzo dell’Università

[Turin_Musée]_Labrouste_Henri_btv1b8553696k (2)

Henri Labrouste, Musée [entre les] Contrada del Po [et] Contrada della Zecca, from Voyage en Italie, 1825-1830
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Palazzo Trucchi di Levaldigi


Henri Labrouste, Palais [à l’angle de deux rues, dont la] Contrada di S. Carlo, from Voyage en Italie, 1825-1830
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Campanile del Duomo

Green, Campanile, Turin, Digital Commonweath

James C. Green, Campanile, Turin, c. 1891
Source: Boston Architectural College Library / Digital Commonwealth, CC BY 3.0

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* Kudos to the Architekturmuseum der TU Berlin for its recently implemented public domain policy and the convenient metadata attached to its image files.

** I have consciously omitted from this selection the numerous drawings of Turin available in the Joconde database by the French artists Prosper Barbot and Pierre-Adrien Pâris, and may return to them in the future.

Sketching Santa Maria d’Araceli, Vicenza

Hans Bernoulli’s Study Drawing of Guarini’s Little-Known Church

Hans Bernoulli, Schematic sketch of Guarino Guarini's Santa Maria d'Araceli, Vicenza (1675-1680), c. 1919

Hans Bernoulli, Schematic sketch of Guarino Guarini’s Santa Maria d’Araceli, Vicenza (1675-1680), c. 1918
Source: Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin / public domain

In 1918, Hans Bernoulli (1876-1959) published the article “Aufnahme und Skizze” in Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst. The essay argued for the importance of making carefully observed sketches and measured drawings from buildings on site in teaching architectural design. Such studies would convey more about designs than the superficial sketches and watercolors usual in schools of architecture at the time. Bernoulli’s text did not refer explicitly to the twelve accompanying illustrations. Instead, these are interspersed throughout the article as silent visual examples, their subjects identified, but with no additional commentary.

A professor of architecture at the ETH Zurich, Bernoulli proposed productive study tours of monuments during which students would intensively engage with the buildings, rather than the typical lighthearted excursions that no one took seriously. Some of the destinations of Bernoulli’s study tours can be deduced from the three locations represented in the sketches for “Aufnahme und Skizze”: London, the Veneto, and Switzerland. The illustrations range widely in chronology, subject matter, and type of drawing, from a baroque door handle in Basel, to a contemporary shop in Sloane Square, from the portal of a palace in Verona to one on a London house, from a plan of garden parterres at Kensington Palace to a plan and interior view of Santa Maria in Organo, Verona.

Bernoulli’s drawing of the Araceli records the essential elements of the building’s plan and structure, all accurately scaled and with two key measurements noted. One clearly reads the central oval-plan space crowned by the circular dome supported with two transverse arches, as well as the surrounding ambulatory beyond the columns defining the central space. The entire structure is encased in a rectilinear box.

The church was generally not recognized as a design by Guarini between Milizia’s scathing mention of it in 1781 and Paolo Portoghesi’s rediscovery of it in 1957, so whether Bernoulli was aware of the identity of the Araceli’s architect is doubtful. Nonetheless, its inclusion in his 1918/19 text seems remarkable for an era that usually scorned the baroque. Bernoulli must be credited for looking beyond questions of taste and style and seeing the Araceli’s fundamental architectural appeal in its unusual spatial configuration and cage-like structure. In this, the sketch perfectly fulfills his stated aim of comprehending the essence of a building’s design through drawing.

Study Tour Sketches c. 1700 and c. 1900

A similar aim must have also inspired Gilles-Marie Oppenord to record Santa Maria d’Aracelli in a half-plan and half-longitudinal section in one of his sketchbooks during an Italian study tour in the late 1690s (center image below). While Oppenord’s sketch is more exuberant than accurate, both he and Bernoulli sought to capture the salient features of Guarini’s design on a single sheet as an aid to understanding the building and for later reference.

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Further Reading:

● Hans Bernoulli, “Aufnahme und Skizze,” Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst 3, no. 2-3 (1918/19): 78-84.

● “Freigestellter Freigeist – Hans Bernoulli zum 140. Geburtstag” (post on ETH library blog on the circumstances surrounding Bernoulli’s termination from the ETH in late 1938)

● Hans Bernoulli research project at the ETH / gta

● Emilio Alberti, “Il restauro della chiesa di Santa Maria d’Araceli a Vicenza,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 398-403.

● Susan Klaiber, “Il progetto di Santa Maria d’Araceli a Vicenza,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 392-397 (with extensive bibliography).

Guarini Sites Outside Turin: page on this website with additional documentation on Santa Maria d’Araceli today, including a Google Map.

Fail or Critique?

Robert de Cotte “Adjusts” the Cappella della Sindone

De Cotte Sindone plan
Sindone plan Dissegni

Pierre Drevet, undated engraving of Robert de Cotte, Source: Yale University Art Gallery

Pierre Drevet, Robert de Cotte, undated engraving
Source: Yale University Art Gallery / public domain

The French architect Robert de Cotte (1656-1735) stopped in Turin in 1690 as part of a six-month study tour to Italy. Four drawings by de Cotte of Turinese buildings survive in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris: plans of three major palaces (Palazzo Graneri, Palazzo Carignano, and Palazzo Reale, discussed here), as well as a typical facade elevation with arcade on Piazza San Carlo.

The plan of the Palazzo Reale (seen in full below) also includes a detailed plan of the Cappella della Sindone – the chapel housing the Shroud of Turin – in its location where the palace abuts the cathedral.

While de Cotte depicts the correct number of openings and niches around the perimeter of the chapel (eight, seen in the uppermost image), he has placed them at regular intervals rather than in the more complex arrangement designed and built by Guarino Guarini beginning in 1667. In Guarini’s plan (second from top), the single wide bay between the two access staircases opening toward the high altar of the cathedral takes up a segment of the perimeter equal to that of two niches on the other side of the chapel. In effect, this single opening is a double bay, and the geometry of the building’s plan is based on a nine-part articulation of the perimeter, rather than the more conventional eight-part scheme indicated by de Cotte.

De Cotte’s pencil underdrawing for the plan literally underscores the difference between the building as built and as recorded by the French architect: the chapel in the study drawing has two major axes oriented toward the cathedral nave, as well as two diagonal axes, defining a regular eight-part division of the circular plan. Guarini’s engraved plan, instead, features an inscribed triangle representing the arches of the vaulting at the level of the false pendentives directly above the cornice ring of the first level, highlighting his articulation of the perimeter in units of three or nine.

On comparing the two plans, an obvious question arises: did de Cotte make a mistake while preparing his sketch of the chapel? Or did he intentionally “correct” Guarini’s unconventional design?

By 1690 major construction at the Cappella della Sindone was completed, although the chapel was not officially inaugurated until 1 June 1694 when the relic was deposited in the shrine atop Antonio Bertola’s central altar. Nonetheless, travelers could enter the chapel, and indeed de Cotte’s description of his visit to the building survives.* Plans of the chapel would have also been available to travelers, since Guarini’s Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica had been published in 1686, three years after the architect’s death. This volume included the plate illustrated here.

With ready access to the chapel, and published plans of it in circulation, any competent architect could have sketched a more or less accurate plan of the building embedded between the royal palace and the east end of the cathedral. One can only conclude that de Cotte’s plan of the Cappella della Sindone is to be understood as a critique, regularizing the plan to bring it in line with the more conventional architecture principles current in late seventeenth-century Paris. But one question remains: how did de Cotte imagine the vaulting of his “classicized” Shroud Chapel? We will probably never know, but it certainly would have been more traditional than Guarini’s marvelous solution.

The chapel is currently scheduled to reopen in 2017, twenty years after the tragic fire of 1997.

* * *

Note and further reading:
*Valentina Assandria, Chiara Gauna, and Giuseppina Tetti, “L’architettura descritta: viaggiatori e guide a Torino tra Sei e Settecento,” in G. Dardanello, editor, Sperimentare l’architettura. Guarini, Juvarra, Alfieri, Borra e Vittone (Turin: Fondazione CRT, 2001): 325-345; here 331 and 337.

* * *

Uppermost image: Robert de Cotte, Palazzo Reale, Turin, detail of Cappella della Sindone from plan of piano nobile, pen and ink with traces of pencil, 1690
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Second from top: Guarino Guarini, detail of “Pianta della Capella del S. Sudario di Torino,” Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin: Per gl’Eredi Gianelli,1686), plate 2
Source: Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive

Image below: Robert de Cotte, Palazzo Reale, Turin, plan of piano nobile, pen and ink with traces of pencil, 1690
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

De Cotte Palazzo Reale

A Lantern Aloft

Lieven Cruyl Records Guarini’s Sainte-Anne-la Royale

Cruyl Pont Royal detail GallicaLieven Cruyl, Construction du Pont Royal, 1686, detail
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

The Flemish artist and architect Lieven Cruyl (c. 1640 – c. 1720) was one of the most attentive observers of seventeenth-century cities in France and Italy. His drawings and engravings of Rome, in particular, provide valuable, extremely accurate records of the Baroque city.

During a stay in Paris in the late 1680s, Cruyl documented the construction of the Pont Royal in a series of drawings and an engraving. Fortunately, these images also captured the state of Guarino Guarini’s unfinished Theatine church Sainte-Anne-la-Royale nearby, twenty years after construction there had halted due to a lack of funds. The church, with its facade facing the Louvre, was to have stretched from the Seine all the way through the block to a rear street. Only the transept was completed, though, and turned into the nave of a much smaller church. This remained buried in the block, surrounded by houses on all sides, as published by Jacques-François Blondel in his Architecture Françoise (1752).

British Museum Cruyl ParisLieven Cruyl, La ville de Paris, vue du côté du Pont Royal des Tuileries…, c. 1687
Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum

In 2001 I discussed Cruyl’s engraving of the completed Pont Royal (above, click to enlarge), where Sainte-Anne may be seen at no. 38 on the right side of print. This engraved image shows the conical temporary cover placed over the incomplete church crossing with some sort of lantern adjacent, as well as some articulation of the lateral elevation, and it gives a sense of the building’s volume, but few other details are visible.

Cruyl Pont Royal GallicaLieven Cruyl, Construction du Pont Royal, 1686, detail
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Now, close inspection of one of Cruyl’s studies of the bridge construction (above here, and top detail) reveals an even better view of Guarini’s Paris church. The conical crossing cover is again visible, but also a clear image of one of the original transept vault lanterns on an elongated hexagonal plan, much as Guarini presented the feature in the engravings for his treatise (below). A dentil cornice can also be made out, as Guarini published for the second order of the facade and in a detail on the elevation plate, although it is not indicated for the transepts on same plate.

The conical temporary dome covering and any visible lanterns were all covered over in 1714-20, when lottery funds were donated to put a uniform, high-pitched roof on the structure, hiding Guarini’s lantern from the Parisian skyline. The church covered with the high roof may be seen in numerous views throughout the eighteenth-century. In the middle of the century, portals with corridors leading to the church inside the block were added to the front and rear streets, providing more dignified access to the Theatines’ remaining Parisian foothold.

The church was largely demolished during the 1820s, although a few remnants have been incorporated into structures still on the site today.

Ste-Anne planSte-Anne elevationSte-Anne section
Left to right: Guarino Guarini, “Chiesa di S. Anna la Reale di Parigi…,” “Prospetto esteriore di S. Anna R.le di Parigi,” and “Prospetto interno di S. Anna Reale di Parigi,” Dissegni d’architettura civile… (Turin: Gianelli,1686), plates 9-11, engraved by Giovanni Fayneau and Antonio De Piene.
Source: Getty Research Library / Internet Archive

Further Reading

David R. Coffin, “Padre Guarino Guarini in Paris,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 15: 2 (May, 1956): 3-11.

Augusta Lange, “Disegni e documenti di Guarino Guarini,” in V. Viale, editor, Guarino Guarini e l’internazionalità del Barocco, vol. 1 (Turin: Accademia delle scienze, 1970): here, 103-116.

Giuseppe Dardanello, “La scena urbana,” in G. Romano, editor, Torino 1675-1699. Strategie e conflitti del Barocco (Turin: Fondazione CRT, 1993): here, 51-54.

Susan Klaiber, “Guarini e Parigi: interscambi culturali e critici,” in G. Dardanello, editor, Sperimentare l’architettura. Guarini, Juvarra, Alfieri, Borra e Vittone (Turin: Fondazione CRT, 2001): 15-36.

Edoardo Piccoli, “Una pianta della Sainte-Anne-la-Royale di Guarini nel fondo de Cotte,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 284-289.

Mansart and Guarini: The Concave Church Façade Illustrated

DeCotte_961v_detailMessina facade detail

Gallica has recently released a huge batch of newly digitized documents from the extraordinary collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and its partner institutions. Among the many treasures now available are a number of François Mansart’s architectural drawings, all dense with ideas and some of the most fascinating records ever made of an architect’s creative process.

These new releases allow me to redress an annoying omission in two of my previous publications on Guarino Guarini and Paris.* Both essays reported on the evidence for a lively exchange of architectural ideas between Guarini and French architects during his years in Paris from 1662-1666. The most convincing witness to Guarini’s effect on French architects is the comparison illustrated above: the façade of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, the church facing the east front of the Louvre on one of Mansart’s drawings for the royal palace prepared in 1664 while Guarini was in Paris (BNF, De Cotte 961v), juxtaposed with Guarini’s Theatine church façade in Messina of c. 1660. When my essays were published, external constraints (space, budget, and deadlines) prevented me from including an image of this telling detail to illustrate my arguments.

Thanks to the wonders of open-access digitization, I can now provide the missing illustration for both articles. Here, an excerpt from the 2006 article in the original English version:

“…François Mansart was the most important French architect for Guarini during these years in Paris. The open vault of Mansart’s stairway at Blois is often cited as an influence on Guarini, and Mansart’s designs for the Bourbon chapel at Saint-Denis explored the possibilities of a double-shelled cupola with open lower vault and hidden lighting effects, effects which Guarini had begun to experiment with at Sainte-Anne, and later developed fully in his design for San Gaetano in Vicenza. This dialogue between Guarini and Mansart seems to have been a two-way street, with Mansart borrowing from Guarini’s Santissima Annunziata in Messina of just a few years earlier in his Louvre designs, where he regularizes the skew façade of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois with a curved façade pivoted away from the axis of the church at one end, similar to that in Messina.”

– from my “La formazione di Guarini,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, H. A. Millon, eds., Guarino Guarini, Turin: Allemandi, 2006: 26.

DeCotte_961vMessina facadeFrançois Mansart, first project for the Louvre, 1664 (left) and Guarino Guarini, façade of Santissima Annunziata, Messina, c. 1660, from Architettura civile, 1737 (right)
Images: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France (left and right)


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*“Guarini e Parigi: interscambi culturali e critici,” in Giuseppe Dardanello, editor, Sperimentare l’architettura (Turin: Fondazione CRT, 2001): 15-36; “La formazione di Guarini,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, H. A. Millon, eds., Guarino Guarini, Turin: Allemandi, 2006: 22-27. Both articles include additional bibliography and context for the interactions between Guarini and French architects.

John Singer Sargent Sketches Guarini and Juvarra

John Singer Sargent Metropolitan Museum

Dome of San Lorenzo and Campanile, Turin
John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), ca. 1877–78
Pen and ink and graphite on off-white wove paper, 9 x 11 3/4 in. (22.9 x 29.8 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Francis Ormond, 1950, 50.130.141u

The exhibition of John Singer Sargent watercolors currently at the Brooklyn Museum (before traveling to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in October) offers a good excuse to reexamine some of Sargent’s other works on paper. Undoubtedly better known to Americanists than scholars of Piedmontese Baroque architecture, this Sargent sketch of Guarini’s San Lorenzo dome along with Juvarra’s upper levels of the Turin cathedral campanile captures the same sun-dappled play of light as many of the watercolors. The sketch’s neutral, documentary quality seems to reflect a newly objective approach to Baroque monuments after a century of anti-Baroque criticism.

Perhaps some distaste for Guarini lingered, however. Sargent ended up focusing more closely on Juvarra, sketching three other sheets with the cathedral campanile alone, today in the Fogg Museum at Harvard (here, here, and here).

The comparison with J. M. W. Turner’s sketches of the same buildings a little over a half-century earlier is instructive. Turner’s Façade of S. Giovanni, the Cathedral at Turin, Piazza Castello, Turin, and Campanile and Dome of Cathedral at Turin (all from one of his northern Italian sketchbooks of 1819 now in the Tate Gallery) reproduce the same architectural features, along with the dome of the Cappella della Sindone. But Turner’s sketches are less precise, more atmospheric than documentary, and often unfinished.

While Turner and Sargent clearly had different priorities with their sketches, one cannot help speculating about how the comparison might illustrate starkly contrasting attitudes toward Baroque architecture in Regency England and expatriate American circles in later nineteenth-century Italy.

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Stephanie L. Herdrich and H. Barbara Weinberg, with Marjorie Shelley, American Drawings and Watercolors in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Singer Sargent (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000): 154-155.