Update to Guarino Guarini Resources

Some of the original periodicals are also yellowed. Here, D. G. Cravero, “Il Palazzo Carignano.” Atti e rassegna tecnica della Società degli ingegneri e degli architetti in Torino 5, no. 2 (1951): 55–63.
Source: Digital Repository, Politecnico di Torino

My files for my work include dozens of tattered old photocopies that I painstakingly collected during the work on my dissertation decades ago. Some of these historic articles appeared in obscure journals available only in a limited number of libraries. As the copies fade and the paper yellows, I sometimes wonder how much longer the texts will be legible.

Fortunately, more and more of these publications are being digitized. Last month, a sentimental favorite of mine – Hugo Schmerber’s “Einige Nachrichten über Guarino Guarini,” (Monatsberichte über Kunstwissenschaft und Kunsthandel 2, no. 8 (1902): 286–87) – appeared among the wonderful art journals digitized at the University of Heidelberg. A quote from Schmerber’s brief article served as a kind of motto for my dissertation: “Bei einem Manne, der wie Guarini sein Leben einem Orden geweiht hat, erscheint es einleuchtend, dass er in seinem Wirken als Künstler mehr oder minder von der religiösen Genossenschaft, der er angehörte, influenziert war.” His essay also provided the first published discussion of Guarini’s Prague design and its historic context.

I have now updated the Resources section of this website with a new page that gathers links to Schmerber and digitized versions of other older literature on Guarino Guarini. All the items date to before 1970, when the Guarini literature virtually exploded due to the catalytic effect of the 1968 conference on the architect held in Turin. The page will be updated periodically as new material becomes available in digitized formats.

Complete List of Resources Pages

Guarini’s Publications Online
Early Biographies of Guarini
Guarini Drawings Online
Guarini Sites Outside Turin
Guarino Guarini Timeline
Older Literature on Guarino Guarini Online
Other Guarini Resources
Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

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

 

A Summer Souvenir of Superga

Souvenir spoon with view of Turin [Superga], late 19th century
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Turin was never a major stop on the Grand Tour. During the great age of pre-aviation tourism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the city served as a gateway for travelers entering Italy from the north before heading to more popular destinations such as Venice, Florence, or Rome. Thus, apart from devotional objects produced for pilgrims venerating the Shroud of Turin, relatively few typical souvenir items such as postcards, photo albums, painted porcelain, or other knickknacks representing the Piedmontese capital survive in public collections.

This souvenir spoon at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is a charming exception. The enameled bowl of the spoon bears a view of Filippo Juvarra’s church of Superga (1716-31) on a hill overlooking the city. The view prominently includes the funicular railway connecting the city (at 225 meters elevation) with the summit (at 672 meters). Since the railway opened in 1884, and the spoon was donated to the museum in 1900, we can date it to the final sixteen years of the nineteenth century. The top of the spoon’s handle features a bull, the symbol of the city of Turin.

Other spoons donated with the same extensive collection represent traditional tourist highlights in Italy and elsewhere in Europe: Rome (St. Peter’s, the Colosseum), Venice (Rialto, Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s), Florence (Palazzo Medici, Duomo, Piazza della Signoria), Naples (Bay of Naples, Pompeii), Potsdam, Dresden, Seville, Madrid, and many others. Meant for display rather than use, such objects still perform their intended function as reminders (“souvenirs”) of summer vacations long ago.

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Related Reading

In 2016, the Consiglio regionale del Piemonte presented an exhibition of ceramics featuring views of Piedmont, Il Piemonte sui piatti. The exhibition catalogue may be downloaded as a PDF from the Internet Archive. See p. 28 of the catalogue for plates with views of Superga.

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Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

Book Launch: Proceedings of November 2016 Conference

Fortuna del barocco book launch invitation
As the work on the research project Antico / Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750 concludes, the second publication arising from the project will be presented at the Salone del Libro in Turin on 10 May at 16:30. Volume 2 in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura collects the conference proceedings from the November 2016 conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento.

My contribution to the volume consists of a response to the talk by Joseph Connors entitled “Il barocco in Italia visto dall’estero. Le mostre di architettura.” View details of the other essays comprising the book in the table of contents. Looking forward to this volume documenting a very stimulating conference!

Publication

Di Macco, Michela, and Giuseppe Dardanello, editors. Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento. Fondazione 1563, Quaderni di ricerca 2. Genoa: Sagep Editori, 2019.

Other news from the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura

● This is a great chance to note the new Summer School organized by the Fondazione 1563, entitled “Ripensare il Barocco (secoli XVII e XVIII). Nuove prospettive storico-critiche.” The Summer School takes place in Turin from 2-7 September 2019 and the deadline for applications is 31 May 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

● The Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura has also recently announced the seventh edition of its annual program of fellowships for postdocs or advanced doctoral candidates in baroque studies, Borse di alti studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco Intitolate a Rosaria Cigliano: VII Bando – Edizione 2019. The five annual fellowships support emerging scholars under the age of 35. The application deadline this year is 27 July 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

A Panorama of Turin

Torino, Panorama generale

Torino, Panorama generale, ca. 1914
Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Unbekannt / Fel_031762-RE / Public domain mark
CLICK TO ENLARGE

The rich online image collections of the ETH Zürich hold countless treasures, including aerial photographs, historic bookplates, the collection of the Fotostiftung Schweiz, historic scientific instruments, field research photography in geology and botany, and historic photographs of buildings in Zurich. Many images are available with some type of Creative Commons license, or are in the public domain. A great deal of the collection consists of postcards, with some unusual examples such as this five-part accordion-folded panorama of Turin dating to around 1914.

The photographs used in the panorama were apparently taken from the Monte dei Cappuccini, on the east side of the Po River just outside the historic center of the city. The leftmost image looks south-southwest, upstream along the Po, toward the Castello del Valentino. Moving from left to right and facing westward, the images successively pan from southwest to north-northwest, while the final, rightmost image looks northeast toward the basilica of Superga. Near the right edge of the central image, the spire of the Mole Antonelliana punctuates the skyline. Together, the five photographs pan well over 180°. The Po runs along the foreground of the entire panorama, while the Alps form a continuous backdrop, a vivid illustration of Turin as the “città subalpina.”

The ETH image archive also holds similar panoramas of numerous other cities and landscapes. Besides many variations on Alpine panoramas, these include Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Lugano, Lyon, Palermo, Valletta, and Oahu!

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.

Still Essential: Tommaso Sandonnini on Guarino Guarini

Fundamental Study Available Open Access

Sandonnini Guarini

Tommaso Sandonnini, Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890).
Source: Internet Culturale

In 1890, the Modenese archivist Tommaso Sandonnini published a lengthy article on Guarino Guarini in the local history journal Atti e memorie delle RR. Deputazioni di storia patria per le provincie modenesi e parmensi. The text, entitled “Il padre Guarino Guarini modenese,” provided the first modern biography of the Theatine architect, an impartial account of his life based on archival sources. The same year, the study was issued as a stand-alone booklet (or offprint) of 54 pages, with a slightly altered title: Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890). The contents of the two versions are identical.

On the basis of the Modena archives, Sandonnini’s investigation traces Guarini’s family origins and youth in Modena up to the point he left for Rome in 1639 for his novitiate in the Theatine order at San Silvestro al Quirinale. Sandonnini resumes his narrative with Guarini’s return to Modena for ordination in 1647, and follows Guarini’s early years as a priest at San Vincenzo, Modena, through the 1650s. Sandonnini notes Guarini’s visit to his dying mother in summer 1662, and presents information regarding his time in Paris via letters from the Vigarani preserved in the Modena archives. The archivist publishes correspondence between Guarini and figures of the d’Este court during the 1670s and 1680s. Other sections of the study give an overview of Guarini’s published books and major architectural projects. Sandonnini fails to recognize Guarini’s role in the design of the Theatine casa of San Vincenzo in Modena, but he posits the Theatine’s involvement in campaigns at the Palazzo Ducale, Modena (a theory since viewed with scepticism). In any case, he avoids a judgmental assessment of the baroque architect, in marked contrast to most 19th-century writing on Guarini’s architectural work.

Tommaso Sandonnini (1849-1926) studied law and worked as a notary before becoming director of the Archivio Storico Comunale in Modena in 1897. In this capacity, he was active in archaeological and preservation efforts in the city, and wrote numerous studies on a range of historical topics, particularly those involving Modena.

An extensive review of Sandonnini’s study by Natale Baldoria appeared the same year in Archivio storico dell’arte 3 (1890): 221-23. Baldoria opens his essay with some historiographic reflections on the study of Baroque art and architecture (“Soltanto da poco tempo incomincia ad essere studiata senza preconcetti, obiettivamente, la Storia dell’arte… Così gli artisti e le opere di quell’epoca [barocco], che tanto contribuirono colle loro invenzioni anche al progresso dell’ arte moderna, sono degni di studio e tali che sarebbe delitto se la storia non li ricordasse o li spregiasse.”) He thus acknowledged the radical break of Sandonnini’s article with previous discussions of Guarini. Nearly seventy years later, in 1958, Wittkower still deemed Sandonnini’s Guarini “An important study.”

Today, another sixty years down the road, Sandonnini’s article remains as fundamental as ever. Along with the works of Alessandro Baudi di Vesme and Augusta Lange who explored the archives in Turin, it furnishes the essentail documentary basis for Guarini’s life and career.

Thanks to Italy’s wonderful Internet Culturale and the Biblioteca civica Ubaldo Mazzini in La Spezia, the booklet version of Sandonnini’s study is now available open access online, and may be downloaded as a PDF for non-commercial use.

Download

Tommaso Sandonnini, Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890). [90 MB]

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On Sandonnini’s life and writings, see Giulio Bertoni, “Tommaso Sandonnini, 1849-1926” and Giovanni Canevazzi, “Bibliografia di Tommaso Sandonnini,” Atti e memorie della R. Deputazione di storia patria per le provincie modenesi, Ser. 7, vol. 5 (1928): 7-28 and 29-42.

Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750

Research Project Website Online

For the past two years, the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura has supported the research project Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750, which comprises several different strands of historiographic inquiry on the baroque, all coordinated by the scientific directors Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello. It has been a privilege for me to be involved in this stimulating initiative with such an inspiring group of scholars.

As the various working groups gradually wrap up their activities, the Fondazione 1563 has launched new webpages describing the research and presenting the resulting outputs. The project homepage outlines the components of the initiative. Each component, in turn, has its own webpage. Additional pages document the research outputs, in the form of videos and publications. To date, these include:

Conference Videos: Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

For those who missed the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia: Le grandi mostre del Novecento in November 2016, all introductions, papers, and responses from the meeting may now be viewed in fourteen videos. A separate volume of conference proceedings is forthcoming in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563.

The opening remarks for the conference (video below) by the late Rosaria Cigliano, president of the Fondazione 1563, are particularly poignant after her premature death last month.

The conference examined issues concerning the reception of Baroque painting, sculpture, and architecture in twentieth-century exhibitions in Italy, with a special emphasis on Piedmont. For a summary of the conference contributions, see my earlier post on the subject.

Video Reconstructions of Historic Exhibitions, 1937 and 1963

The project component Barocco in Piemonte – Barocco in Europa: a cinquant’anni dalla mostra del 1963 involved several scholars working together with a seminar of students at the Università di Torino in order to reassess the history, historiography, and reception of the two large exhbitions of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture organized by Vittorio Viale in 1937 and 1963. Under the guidance of Sara Abram and Giuseppe Dardanello, the students worked to reconstruct the nearly forgotten exhibition of 1937, and compare it with the intervening evolution of the field as manifested in the second exhibition twenty-six years later. A forthcoming volume in the series Quaderni di Ricerca will publish this work, along with additional framing essays by established scholars.

Abram and Dardanello presented initial results of this research at the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia in the form of videos reconstructing the two exhibitions. The Fondazione 1563 has made both films available online as well as a third video introducing the reconstructions (below).

La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi

The first in a series of six volumes produced by the Antico/Moderno teams, La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi, edited by Andrea Bacchi and Liliana Barroero, publishes the contributions to a three-part seminar held in Rome in spring 2016. Covering the late nineteenth through late twentieth centuries, each of the sixteen essays revisits a fundamental text of the art and architectural history of the Baroque, and situates it within the international historiography on the period.

For more information, view the publisher’s flyer or the table of contents.

More to come…

Stay tuned in the coming months for additional research outputs from this initiative.

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.

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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.