An Eighteenth-Century French Engraving of San Lorenzo, Turin

Gabriel-Pierre-Martin Dumont, after Guarino Guarini, “Plan, et coupe de la chapelle royale du St. Suaire de Turin” [but in fact San Lorenzo, Turin], 1781.
From: [Oeuvres de] Jacques-Germain Soufflot, plate 16.
Source: Bibliothèque de l’Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA), collections Jacques Doucet / “Licence Ouverte / Open Licence” Etalab

Inspiration for the Panthéon in Paris

This print has fascinated me ever since I discussed it in an article in 2001. The image reproduces the plan and section of Guarino Guarini’s church of San Lorenzo, Turin, based on plates from the architect’s treatise, except the caption misidentifies the building as Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud (Cappella della Sindone). As the caption goes on to say, Jacques-Germain Soufflot, the architect of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, had the plate engraved by Gabriel-Pierre-Martin Dumont to bolster the number of authoritative examples for constructing the dome of his church.

Sainte-Geneviève (now the Panthéon) was constructed from 1758-1790, and spirited discussions in the architectural community accompanied the long process of planning and realization. In several meetings of the French academy of architecture, Soufflot defended his plans to construct a large, structurally daring dome over the crossing of the church. In these sessions, he cited multiple precedents that he had seen on his travels throughout Europe: the churches of Notre Dame in Dijon, Toussaints in Angers, Sant’Agostino in Piacenza, San Carlo al Corso in Rome, Christopher Wren’s Saint Mary-le-Bow in London, Milan cathedral, and unnamed churches by Guarino Guarini. From the guidebook published by Soufflot’s traveling companion Charles-Nicolas Cochin, we know that the French architect had been to Turin and had seen both San Lorenzo and the Cappella della Sindone in 1750.

This extraordinary print testifies to Soufflot’s appreciation of Guarini’s structural achievement at San Lorenzo. Since Soufflot hoped to build a dome at Sainte-Geneviève seemingly supported primarily by slender columns, San Lorenzo provided a good example of how to do this. Guarini’s design at San Lorenzo relied on a framework of hidden brick and timber arches to support the dome, rather than placing any significant weight on the marble columns that visually carry the superstructure.

The mistake in the caption was perhaps due to confusion on the part of the engraver Dumont as he produced the print after Soufflot’s death in 1780. Construction of the church continued for another decade until it was completed after the beginning of the French Revolution.

Soufflot’s commission of such an engraving is surprising in view of the criticism of Italian baroque architecture voiced by the French architectural writers in the eighteenth century. French critics targeted Guarini in particular because of his ill-fated, incomplete church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale in Paris. Nonetheless, Soufflot’s admiration for San Lorenzo demonstrates the power of an innovative architectural solution to transcend polemics based on style, taste, and nationality.

Fredrick Nash, Interior of the Panthéon in Paris, first half 19th century. Watercolor over graphite.
Source: Cleveland Museum of Art / public domain


Borromini Colloquium in Einsiedeln

30 June-1 July 2019

Portrait of Francesco Borromini, frontispiece to Opera del Cav. Francesco Boromino, Cavata da Suoi Originali cioè L’Oratorio e Fabrica per l’Abitazione De PP. dell’Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri di Roma, ed. Sebastiano Giannini (Rome, 1725).
Source: Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive

Werner Oechslin (Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin / ETH Zürich) and Francesco Moschini (Accademia di San Luca, Rome) have organized a two-day colloquium on Francesco Borromini, his sources, and his architectural offspring. The event assembles many established and emerging Borromini scholars and features a special keynote address by Paolo Portoghesi.

I am looking forward to participating with my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection.” My talk examines Guarino Guarini’s adaptation of Borrominian motifs at his ill-fated church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale in Paris, and the subsequent reception of this design by French architectural writers.

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Sonntag, 30. Juni / Domenica, 30 giugno
1. Arbeitstag. Borromini und seine Architektur im Kontext / Primo giorno: Borromini e la sua architettura nel contesto

09.30 –12.00 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.00

● Francesco Moschini / Werner Oechslin
Einführung, Hypothesen / Introduzione, Ipotesi

● Paolo Porthoghesi (Rom)
Prolusione inaugurale: L’architettura di Borromini

● Federico Bellini (Rom)
La SS. Sapienza: l’espressione visual e sonora del misterio trinitario

13.30 –18.00 Uhr / Ore 13.30–18.00

● Giuseppe Bonaccorso (Rom)
Borromini e i rapporti con amici, conoscenti e committenti: una chiave di comprensione del suo processo del fare

● Eleonora Gaudieri (Wien)
Alois Riegels „Entstehung der Barockkunst in Rom“


● Alina Aggujaro (Rom)
Bramante e Borromini: le due prospettive

● Alexander von Kienlin, Gunnar Schulz-Lehnfeld (Braunschweig)
„Aufgebrochene Schlingen und Ketten“ – zum Michelangiolesken in Borrominis Architektur

Montag, 01. Juli / Lunedì, 01 Luglio
2. Arbeitstag: Borromini und die Folgen: Geometrie, Entwurfsprozesse / Secondo giorno: Borromini e le consequenze: Geometria, procedure del disegno

09.30 –12.30 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.30

● Susan Klaiber (Winterthur)
Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection


● Martin Raspe (Rom)
Il Calvino dell‘ Architettura? Borromini und die Doktrin vom rechten Winkel

● Werner Oechslin (Einsiedeln)
Borromini il Cartesio dell’Architettura und die (nachfolgende) Disziplinierung der Kurve

14.30 –18.00 Uhr/ Ore 14.30–18.00

● Daniel Tischler (Wien)
Synoptische Architekturzeichnungen Borrominis

● Richard Bösel (Tuscania) – Diskutant

● Torsten Tjarks (Bonn) – Diskutant


● Stefan Kummer (Würzburg)
Anmerkungen zur vermeintlichen ‚Kurvenfeindlichkeit‘ Balthasar Neumanns am Beispiel der Würzburger Residenz

● Sebastian Schütze – Diskutant

● Schlussdiskussion / conclusione

18.15 Uhr / Ore 18.15: Besichtigung der Klosterkirche Einsiedeln / Visita della abbazia di Einsiedeln


Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin
Luegetenstr. 11
8840 Einsiedeln

Attendance is free, but registration requested at


Download the colloquium program as a PDF.

From my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection”

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

Guarino Guarini, not Camillo

1641 vows

Guarino Guarini, born 17 January 1624 in Modena

To mark Guarino Guarini’s birthday today, this post aims to correct a fundamental misconception about the architect: his name.  Many reference works – from Wikipedia in most languages, to even the Encyclopaedia Britannica  or authoritative library catalogues – refer to him as “Camillo Guarino Guarini,” sometimes suggesting that he was baptized “Camillo” and took the name “Guarino” upon entering the Theatine order as a novice at age 15 in 1639.

This is simply wrong.  No document produced during Guarini’s lifetime ever refers to him as “Camillo.”  In particular, the record of his baptism (published by Sandonnini 1890, p. 485) clearly refers to him as “Guarino”:

Battezzati di S.a Margheria. Addì 22 Gennaio 1624 – Guarino, figlio del S.r Rinaldo Guarini et della Signora Eugenia Marescotti sua moglie fu battezzato. Furono padrini il Signor Marcello Guerenghi et la Signora Seghizza sua moglie.

Similarly, when he joined the Theatines: “A di 27 di 9bre entra in Religione Guarino del Sig. Rinaldo Guarini e di Sig.a Eugenia Marescotti d’età d’anni 15.” (Klaiber 1993, p. 55 n. 15).  His final vows to the order, taken at age 17 in April 1641, preserve the earliest known sample of his handwriting and autograph signature (image above).  Here too he is Guarino, with no mention anywhere of renouncing the name “Camillo.”  And so on.  Not a single contemporary document records his name as “Camillo.”

Fortunately, some important reference works have resisted the popular proliferation of “Camillo Guarini” – the Getty’s Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) and the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI), to name two.  Even German Wikipedia has it right.

Tracing the source of the mysterious mistaken name “Camillo” requires lengthy research going back to late seventeenth-century Paris (Klaiber 1999, pp. 220, 235 n. 4, and Klaiber 2001, p. 31, cited below).  There, in the wake of controversy surrounding the Theatine church Sainte-Anne-la-Royale, the name of the Theatine superior in Paris, Camillo Sanseverino, became conflated with the name of the church’s architect, Guarino Guarini.

Indeed, the fictive name “Camillo Guarini” appears exclusively in French sources throughout the eighteenth century.  Only in the early nineteenth century does it begin to spread to English, German, and other texts.  The mistake became firmly entrenched in reference works when it was included in the Thieme-Becker Künstlerlexikon entry on Guarini in 1922.

Errors, authorities, and critical thinking

Even with the best intentions, simple mistakes (or more complicated ones) easily creep into all kinds of texts.  Many of the Wikipedia entries on Guarini have added a new inaccuracy to their account of his life, giving his birthday as 7 January rather than 17 January.  This mistake is probably due to someone accidentally omitting the first digit of “17” while copying it. (The exact date of his birth is known from a later document produced at the time of his ordination in 1648.)

No one is exempt from such errors.  In his recent piece “One of Science’s Most Famous Quotes is False,” New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter confessed that for years he had unknowingly propagated an invented quote long attributed to former Surgeon General William Stewart. So even the legendary fact-checking department at the New Yorker also slips up sometimes.

My own confession is this: when writing my dissertation, I failed to double-check all of the details, choosing instead to rely on my memory for material I thought I knew well. For the most part, this worked out just fine, but one error did sneak in – I gave the name of Guarini’s father as “Raimondo” rather than “Rinaldo.” This was a small and fairly insignificant mistake, but I then repeated it in my 1999 article on Guarini listed below, checking the detail in my dissertation rather than the primary sources. Years later I was horrified to discover that the error was picked up in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani entry on Guarini, cited above. False information gets introduced into even authoritative reference works so easily and inadvertently.

The historian’s only recourse is constant vigilance and active critical thinking. Did I really read it that way? Does that make sense? Why do they all call him “Camillo”?

Happy Birthday, Guarino.

* * *

References to Wikipedia correct as of date of posting.


Tommaso Sandonnini, “Il Padre Guarino Guarini modenese,” Atti e memorie delle RR. Deputazioni di storia patria per le provincie modenesi e parmensi, series III, volume V, part II (1890): 483-534.

Susan Klaiber, Guarino Guarini’s Theatine Architecture, Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University, 1993).

Susan Klaiber, “Guarino Guarini, Honestis Parentibus Mutinensis,” in M. Bulgarelli, C. Conforti, G. Curcio, eds., Modena 1598. L’invenzione di una capitale (Milan: Electa, 1999): 219-237.

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.

Image above: Guarini’s autograph vows to the Theatine order, 14 April 1641
Source: Archivio Generale dei Teatini, Rome / Susan Klaiber (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The Madonna of the Manger

Christmas, San Gaetano and the Nativity in Theatine Churches

Gaetano_MMAA key episode in the life of San Gaetano Tiene, founder of the Theatine order, relates a mystic vision the saint experienced at Christmas 1517. While praying in the chapel of the Presepe – a relic believed to be the manger from Bethlehem – in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, the Virgin and Child appeared to Gaetano, accompanied by a choir of angels. Encouraged by Saints Jerome and Joseph, Gaetano approached the Madonna. In an intimate gesture of trust, Mary then offered the Child to Gaetano to hold. This image of the Theatine saint cradling the infant Jesus in his arms, often with the Virgin and other saints looking on, or receiving the baby from Mary, is a major motif in the iconography of San Gaetano.

This mystic vision of their founder seems to have given the Theatines a particular affinity for Christmas devotions. In Paris the order presented a popular annual Christmas novena, the Couches de la Vièrge, a nine-day devotion beginning on 16 December and concluding on Christmas Eve. Members of the French court regularly attended, and a description in the Journal des Guerres Civiles of Dubuisson-Aubenay details one of the final days of this novena in 1648:

“At three o’clock the queen was at the church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale of the Theatine fathers, which all of Paris comes to see because of the representations there in the form of a theater with perspective, at the back of which the Holy Sacrament from the altar is displayed. On one side is the emperor Augustus with his court, and on the other are mathematicians who describe the world according to the gospel: edixit edictum a Caesare Augusto ut describeretur universus orbis (Luke, chapter II).”

Such a novena was also practiced at the Theatine church in Messina, Santissima Annunziata, as a 1644 source reports:

“…during the nine days before the Holy Birth of the Lord, the anticipation of the delivery of the most Holy Virgin… they celebrate here with much solemnity, with expensive stage sets, full of infinite lights, not without interest and attendance of the public, who come to rejoice and contemplate the sacred mystery of the incarnation of the Word, represented here with the sweetest music.”

Both descriptions mention elaborate ephemeral apparatuses employed for the novena, and both emphasize the popular appeal of the sacred spectacle. While it is not clear whether San Gaetano’s vision played a role in the Paris devotions or the early ones reported in Messina, a musical Dialogo relating Gaetano’s episode at the manger surives in a published version, performed at the church in Messina to mark his canonization in 1671. The fourteen-page libretto, entitled I celesti fauori concessi a S. Gaetano Tiene…, calls for five characters – the Madonna, Gaetano, Charity, Humility, and Providence – accompanied by a choir. At the latest after Gaetano’s canonization, then, his mystic Christmas experience seems to have played a more prominent role within Theatine spirituality.

479px-Matteo_rosselli,_natività_di_CristoElsewhere in Italy, an explicit link between the general cult of the Nativity and specific reference to San Gaetano’s Christmas vision can be traced in Florence. There, a chapel dedicated to the Nativity was installed in the right transept at the Theatine church of San Michele in 1610. The dedication originated in a vision of the Virgin experienced by the chapel patron, Elisabetta Bonsi, the night of Christmas Eve 1602. The altarpiece of the Nativity was painted by Matteo Rosselli. In 1671, upon Gaetano’s canonization, an image of his mystic encounter at the manger in Santa Maria Maggiore was added to the wall opposite the chapel entrance. For the Theatines, the saint’s vision thus becomes another station in the iconographic cycle of the Nativity itself. Gaetano also became a co-patron of the entire church to mark his canonization: today it is officially Santi Michele e Gaetano, often known simply as San Gaetano.

Nativity chapel San Lorenzo Wikimedia CROPPED These two elements of Theatine Christmas devotion – general celebration of the Nativity, and specific commemoration of San Gaetano’s mystic vision – are joined by a third component at San Lorenzo in Turin. Guarino Guarini’s Theatine church (constructed 1670-1680) prominently features a chapel dedicated to the Nativity flanking its high altar to the left, donated by the Marchesa Camilla Bevilacqua Villa. The Marchesa was first lady in waiting to the duchess regent, Maria Giovanna Battista, who as patron oversaw completion of the church and its furnishing by the most important members of her court. The chapel’s altarpiece of the Nativity is by the Savoyard painter Pierre Dufour, active as a portraitist and miniaturist at the court. The chapel patron, the Marchesa Villa, was purportedly related to San Gaetano on her mother’s side. No evidence has yet emerged indicating the Theatine Christmas novena was practiced in Turin, though the family ties between patron and saint make this likely. But the Madonna of the Manger also had another very important meaning here.

When it first was established in Turin in 1563, the church of San Lorenzo had originally been installed in a small Romanesque church dedicated to Santa Maria del Presepio – St. Mary of the Manger – on the northern city wall, behind the cathedral and the site of the later ducal palace. [Claims that the current chapel in the church narthex are located on the site of the original church of Santa Maria del Presepio should be disregarded (Klaiber, 1999).] That San Lorenzo subsumed the dedication to Santa Maria del Presepio seems confirmed by the opening lines of the inscription on the cornerstone laid when the church moved to its present site in 1634. The inscription specifically invokes the Virgin of the manger:

DEO     OPT.     MAX.
  Ac Sanctissimae Deiparae ad Praesepe
  Beato Martyri Laurentio ex Serenissimi Emmanuelis Philiberti voto...

Silos San Lorenzo cornerstone

The heightened devotion to San Gaetano after his canonization in 1671 carried through the entire decade of the 1670s and into the 1680s, as witnessed by numerous projects to build new Theatine churches dedicated to him (Nice, Vicenza, Salzburg). This popularity also influenced the cults celebrated at San Lorenzo in Turin – under construction during the same period – most obviously in the inclusion of a chapel to San Gaetano (second on the right). The connection of the Nativity chapel to Gaetano is less immediately apparent, but perhaps more deeply resonant. The Marchesa Villa’s chapel, dedicated in August 1680, could perpetuate the titular cult of the lost Romanesque chapel of Santa Maria del Presepe and link this to the iconography of San Gaetano, fortuitously mingling the origins of San Lorenzo as a ducal church in Turin with Theatine spirituality and the patron’s familial piety.

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Images (top to bottom):

● Gaetano Gherardo Zompini, Saint Cajetan of Thiene Holding the Infant Jesus, pen and ink, eighteenth century.
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Rogers Fund, 1966, 66.53.6)

● Placido Cara, I celesti fauori concessi a S. Gaetano Tiene… (Messina: Paolo Bisagni, 1671), p. 2.
Source: Google Books / Biblioteca nazionale centrale, Rome

● Matteo Rosselli, Nativity, Santi Michele e Gaetano, Florence, 1610.
Source: Wikimedia Commons / public domain

● Chapel of the Nativity, San Lorenzo, Turin, 1679-1680.
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Sailko (CC BY-SA 3.0)

● San Lorenzo cornerstone inscription from Giuseppe Silos, Historiarum clericorum regularium, vol. 2 (Rome: Heredum Corbelletti, 1655): 444.
Source: Google Books / Bavarian State Library

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Sources and Further Reading

Giuseppe Dardanello, “Cantieri di corte e imprese decorative a Torino,” in Giovanni Romano, ed., Figure del barocco in Piemonte (Turin: CRT, 1988): 163-204; 237-252.

Susan Klaiber, Guarino Guarini’s Theatine Architecture, Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University, 1993): 97-8, 245, 256-7.

Susan Klaiber, “The First Ducal Chapel of San Lorenzo: Turin and the Escorial,” in M. Masoero, S. Mamino, C. Rosso, eds., Politica e cultura nell’età di Carlo Emanuele I. Torino, Parigi, Madrid (Florence: Olschki, 1999): 329-343.

San Gaetano in Art: private webpage with extensive collection of images documenting the iconography of San Gaetano.

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: / 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: / 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: / 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.