Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

342. In the principal churches of Rome there is great similarity of plan; they usually consist of a nave and side aisles, in which latter, chapels are ranged along the sides. The separation of the nave and aisles is effected by arcades. The transepts are not much extended, and over the intersection of them with the nave and choir a cupola generally rises. The chapels of the Virgin and Holy Sacrament are commonly in the transepts; and the great altar is at the end of the choir, which usually terminates semicircularly on the plan. Unlike those of the Florentine school, the interiors of the Roman churches are decorated to excess. Pictures, mosaics, and marbles of every variety line the walls. A profusion of gilding imparts to them a richness of tone, and the architectural details are often in the highest state of enrichment. They are, indeed, temples worthy of the worship of the Deity. Yet, with all this magnificence, the façades are often mean; and when a display of architecture is exhibited in them, it is produced by abuses of the worst class. They are generally mere masks; for between the architecture of these false fronts and that of the interior there is no architectural connection. In very many instances the sides of the churches are actually hidden by adjacent buildings, so that they are altogether unseen; a circumstance which may have conduced to the repetition of the abuse. Faulty, however, as these edifices are, to them is Europe indebted as models, which have in modern times been more purified. We have not space to enumerate or criticise the churches with which Rome abounds. St. Carlo on the Corso, by Onorio Langhi, is a fine example of them, and gives a fair notion of the general distribution we have described. Those of a later date, especially those by Borromini, may be considered as indices rerum ritandarum in architecture; and though we are, perhaps, from the cupidity of upholsterers and house decorators, likely to be doomed to sit in rooms stuffed with the absurdities of the taste prevalent in the time of Louis XV., we can hardly conceive it necessary in these days to recommend the student's abhorrence of such freaks of plan and elevation as are to be found in the church of St. Carlo alle quattro Fontane, by that architect. 343. The palaces of Rome are among the finest architectural works in Europe; and of those in Rome, as we have before observed, none equals the Farnese, whose façade is given in fig. 169. “Ce vaste palais Farnese, qui à tout prendre, pour la grandeur

Fig. 169. FAll NESE PALACE.

de la masse, la regularité de son ensemble, et l'excellence de son architecture, a tenu jusqu'ici, dans l'opinion des artistes, le premier rang entre tous les palais qu'on renomme," is the general description of it by De Quincy, upon whom we have drawn largely, and must continue to do so. This edifice, by San Gallo, forms a quadrangle of 256 ft. by 185 ft. It is constructed of brick, with the exception of the dressings of the doors and windows, the quoins of the fronts, and the entablature and loggia in the Strada Giulia, which are of travertine stone. Of the same stone, beautifully wrought, is the interior of the court. The building consists of three stories, including that on the ground, which, in the elevations or façades, are separated by impost cornices. The only break in its symmetry and simplicity occurs in the loggia, placed in the centre of the first story, which connects the windows on each side of it by four columns. On the ground story the windows are decorated with square-headed dressings of extremely simple design; in the next story they are flanked by columns, whose entablatures are crowned alternately with triangular and circular pediments; and in the third story are circular-headed windows, crowned throughout with triangular pediments. The taste in which these last is composed is not so good as the rest, though they were probably the work of Michael Angelo, of whose cornice to the edifice

Vasari observes, “E stupendissimo il corniccione maggiore del medesimo palazzo nella

[graphic]

facciata dinanzi, non si potendo alcuna cosa ne più bella ne più magnifica desiderare.” The façade towards the Strada Giulia is different from the other fronts in the centre only, wherein there are three stories of arcades to the loggia, each of whose piers are decorated with columns of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders in the respective stories as they rise, and these in form and dimensions correspond with the three ranks of arcades towards the court. It appears probable that this central arrangement was not in the original design of San Gallo, but introduced when the third story was completed. Magnificent as from its simplicity and symmetry is the exterior of this palace, which, as De Quincy observes, “est un édifice toujours digne d'être le sejour d'un prince,” yet does it not exceed the beauty of the interior. The quadrangle of the court is 88 ft. square between the columns of the arcades, and is composed with three stories, in which the central arrangement above mentioned towards the Villa Giulia is repeated on the two lower stories, over the upper whereof is a solid wall pierced in the windows. The piers of the lower arcade are ornamented with Doric columns, whose entablature is charged with triglyphs in its frieze, and its metopac are sculptured with various symbols. The imposts of the piers are very finely profiled, so as to form the entablatures when continued over the columns of the entrance vestibule. In the Ionic arcade, over this, the frieze of the order is decorated with a series of festoons. The distribution of the different apartments and passage is well contrived. All about the building is on a scale of great grandeur. Though long unoccupied, and a large portion of its internal ornaments has disappeared, it still commands our admiration in the Carracci Gallery, which has continued to serve as a model for all subsequent works of the kind. The architecture of the Farnese palace, more especially as respects the arcades of its court, is the most perfect adaptation of ancient arrangement to more modern habits that has ever been designed. We here allude more particularly to the arcades, upon whose piers orders of columns are introduced. This species of composition, heavier, doubtless, less elegant, yet more solid than simple colonnades, is, on the last account, preferable to them, where several stories rise above one another. The idea was, certainly, conceived from the practice in the ancient theatres and amphitheatres; and in its application at the Farnese palace rivals in beauty all that antiquity makes us in its remains acquainted with. San Gallo, its architect, died in 1546. 344. It would be impossible here to enumerate the palaces with which Rome abounds; but we must mention another, that of St. Giovanni Laterano, by Domenico Fontana, as a very beautiful specimen of the palatial style. Milizia censures the detail of this edifice, and there is some truth in his observations in that respect; but the composition is so simple and grand, and the cornice crowns it with so much majesty, that the detail is forgotten in the general effect, and its architect well deserves the rank of a great artist. 345. The villas, Ocelli d'Italia, as they have been called, round the suburbs of Rome, are in a style far lighter than the palaces whereof we have just been speaking. They are the original models of the modern country houses of this island, and exhibit great skill in their plans and elegance in their façades. Generally they rose from the riches and taste of a few cardinals, who studded the environs of the Eternal City with some of the fairest gems of the art. M.M. Percier and Fontaine published a collection of them at Paris, from which we extract the Villa Pia (fig. 170.). It was designed by Pirro Ligorio, a Neapolitan

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

architect, who died in 1580, and is thus described by the authors whose view of it we have borrowed. “It was built,” say they, “in imitation of the houses of the ancients, which Ligorio had particularly studied. This clever artist, who to his talent as an architect joined the information of a learned antiquary, here threw into a small space every thing that could contribute to render it a delightful dwelling. In the midst of verdant thickets, and in the centre of an amphitheatre of flowers, he constructed an open lodge, decorated with stuccoes and agreeable pictures. The lodge is raised upon a base, bathed by the water of a basin, enclosed with marbles, fountains, statues, and vases. Two flights of steps, which lead to landings sheltered by walls ornamented with niches and seats of marble, offer protection from the sun's rays by the trees that rise above them. Two porticoes, whose interior walls are covered with stuccoes, lead on each side to a court paved in mosaic work. This is enclosed # a wall, round which seats are disposed. Here is a fountain spouting up from the centre of a vase of precious marble. At the end of the court facing the lodge an open vestibule, supported by columns, fronts the ground floor of the principal pavilion; and is decorated with mosaics, stuccoes, and bassi-relievi of beautiful design. The apartments on the first floor are ornamented with fine pictures. Finally, from the summit of a small tower, which rises above the building, the view extends over the gardens of the Vatican, and the plains through which the Tiber takes its course, and the splendid edifices of Rome.” For further information on the Roman villas, we refer the reader to the work we have uoted. q 346. The Roman school of architecture, founded by Bramante, includes San Gallo, Buonarroti, Sansovino, Peruzzi, Vignola (whose extraordinary palace at Caprarola deserves the study of every architect), and many others. It ends with Domenico Fontana, the period of its duration being from 1470 to 1607, or little more than 130 years. 347. Before we proceed to the Venetian school, it will, however, be proper to notice two architects, whose works tended to change much for the worse the architecture of their time; we mean Borromini and Bernini, though the latter was certainly purer in his taste than the former. Borromini, whose example in his art was followed throughout Europe, and who, even in the present day, has his returning admirers, was the father of all modern abuses in architecture; and the reader must on no account confound his works with those of the Roman school, which had ceased nearly half a century before the native of Bissona had begun to practise. He inverted the whole system of Greek and Roman architecture, without replacing it by a substitute. He saw that its leading forms, sprung from a primitive type, were, by an imitation more or less rigorous, subjected to the principles of the model from which its order and arrangement emanated. He formed the project of annihilating all idea of a model, all principles of imitation, all plea for order and proportion. For the restriction in the art resultant from the happy fiction, or perhaps reality of a type, one whose tendency was to restrain it within the bounds of reason, he substituted the anarchy of imagination and fancy, and an unlimited flight into all species of caprice. Undulating flexibility supplanted all regularity of form; contours of the most grotesque description succeeded to right lines; the severe architrave and entablature were bent to keep up the strange delusion; all species of curves were adopted in his operations, and the angles of his buildings were perplexed with an infinite number of breaks. What makes this pretended system of novelty more absurd is (and we are glad to have the opportunity here of observing that the remarks we are making are applicable to the present fashionable folly of decorating rooms a la Louis XIV. and XV.), that its only novelty was the disorder it introduced, for Borromini did not invent a single form. He was not scrupulous in retaining all the parts which were indicated by imitating the type; he decomposed some, transposed others, and usually employed each member in a situation directly the reverse of its proper place, and, indeed, just where it never would be naturally placed. Thus, for example, to a part or ornament maturally weak, he would assign the office of supporting some great weight; whilst to one actually capable of receiving a great load, he would assign no office whatever. With him every thing seems to have gone by contraries; and to give truth the appearance of fiction, and the converse, seems to have been his greatest delight. Out of all this arose a constant necessity for contrivance, which marked Borromini as a skilful constructor, in which respect he attained to an extraordinary degree of intelligence. It seems, however, not improbable that one of his great objects in studying construction was, that he might have greater facility in carrying his curious conceits into execution; for it may be taken almost as an axiom in architecture, so great is the relation between them, that simple forms and solid construction are almost inseparable; and it is only necessary to have recourse to extraordinary expedients in construction when our productions result from an unrestrained imagination. Further notice of this architect is not necessary; one of his most celebrated works is the restoration of the church of St. Giovanni Laterano, - after St. Peter's, the greatest in Rome. His purest work is the church of St. Agnese; whilst that of St. Carlo alle quattro fontane, which we have heretofore noticed, is the most bizarre. Borromini died in 1667. 348. Bernini, the other artist whom we have mentioned, was equally painter, sculptor, and architect; his principal work is the colonnade in front of St. Peter's. He was, notwithstanding the abuses to be found in his works, a man of great talent. In their general arrangement his buildings are good and harmonious; his profiles are graceful; his ornaments, though sometimes profuse, are usually elegant. Bernini, however, was no check upon the permicious character of his cotemporary Borromini; instead, indeed, of relieving architecture of some of her abuses, he encumbered her with fresh ones. He was also fond of broken pediments, and of placing them in improper situations. He employed undulations, projections innumerable, and intermixtures of right lines with curves; for beautiful simplicity he substituted elegant fancy; and is to be imitated or admired by the student no farther than he followed nature and reason. He made some designs for the Louvre at Paris, which are exceedingly good. His death occurred in 1680. 349. 3. The Venetian School is characterised by its lightness and elegance; by the convenient distribution it displays; and by the abundant, perhaps exuberant, use of columns, pilasters, and arcades, which enter into its composition. Like its sister school of painting, its address is more to the senses than is the case with those we have just quitted. We have already given an account of the church of St. Mark, in the 12th century; from which period, as the republic rose into importance by its arms and commerce, its arts were destined to an equally brilliant career. The possession in its provinces of some fine monuments of antiquity, as well as its early acquaintance with Greece, would, of course, work beneficially for the advancement of its architecture. That species of luxury, the natural result of a desire on the part of individuals to perpetuate their names through the medium of their habitations, though not productive of works on a grand or monumental scale, leads, in a democracy (as were the states of Venice), to a very general display of moderately splendid and elegant palaces. Hence the extraordinary number of specimens of the building art supplied by the Venetian school. 350. San Micheli, who was born in 1484, may, with propriety, be called its founder. Having visited Rome at the early age of sixteen for the purpose of studying its ancient monuments of art, and having in that city found much employment, he, after many years of absence, returned to his native country. The mode in which he combined pure and beautiful architecture with the requisites called for in fortifications may be seen displayed to great advantage at Verona, in which city the Porta dell Pallio is an instance of his wonderful ingenuity and taste. But his most admired works are his palaces at Verona; though, perhaps, that of the Grimani family at Venice is his most magnificent production. The general style of composition, very different from that of the palaces of Florence and Rome, is marked by the use of a basement of rustic work, wherefrom an order rises, often with arched windows, in which he greatly delighted, and these were connected with the order after the manner of an arcade, the whole being crowned with the proper entablature. As an example, we give, in fig. 171., the façade of the Pompei palace at Verona. The genius of

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

San Micheli was of the very highest order; his works are as conspicuous for excellent construction as they are for convenience, unity, harmony, and simplicity, which threw into shade the minor abuses occasionally found in them. If he had no other testimony, it would be sufficient to say, that for his talents he was held in great esteem by Michael Angelo; and our advice to the student would be to study his works with diligence. San Micheli devoted himself with great ardour to the practice of military architecture; and though the invention was not for a long time afterwards assigned to him, he was the author of the system used by Vauban and his school, who, for a long period, deprived him of the credit of it. Before him all the ramparts of a fortification were round or square. He introduced a new method, inventing the triangular and pentangular bastion, with plain fossés, flanks, and square bases, which doubled the support; he moreover not only flanked the curtain, but all the fossé to the next bastion, the covered way, and glacis. The mystery of this art consisted in defending every part of the inclosure by the flank of a bastion; hence, making it round or square, the front of it, that is, the space which remains in the triangle, which was before undefended, was by San Micheli provided against. We cannot, however, further proceed on this subject, which belongs to military, which at that period was intimately connected with civil architecture. The Porta del Pallio at Verona has been mentioned; that city, however, contains another gate of great architectural merit by this master, the Porta Nuova, a square edifice, supported within by a number of piers of stone, with enclosures or apartments for the guards, artillery, &c. The proportions, as a whole, are pleasing; it is of the Doric order, devoid of all extraneous ornament, solid, strong, and suitable to the purposes of the building. Except in the middle gate and the architectural parts, the work is rusticated. The exterior façade stands on a wall, with two large pyramidal pilasters of marble rising from the bottom of the fosse; at the top are two round enclosures approaching almost to towers. In the interior, to the two gates near the angles are two corresponding long passages, vaulted, leading to a number of subterraneous galleries and rooms. For beauty, however, we do not think this gate so beautiful as that of del Pallio, which we here give (fig. 172.). But the gem of this great master is the little circular

[graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

chapel at San Bernardino, whose beauty, we think, has scarcely ever been surpassed, and which exhibits, in a striking degree, the early perfection of the Venetian school. It was not finished under San Micheli, and blemishes are to be found in it; it is nevertheless an exquisite production, and, in a surprisingly small space, exhibits a refinement which elsewhere we scarcely know equalled. The works which he designed surpass, we believe, in number those of all the masters of Italy, Palladio, perhaps, excepted. He gave a tone to his art in the Venetian states, which endured for a considerable period. His death occurred in 1549. 351. Contemporary with San Micheli, was another extraordinary genius of this school, born at Florence,—Jacopo Tatti by name, but more usually called Sansovino, from the country of his master, Andrea Contucci di Monte Sansovino. Such was the respect for this artist in Venice, his adopted city, that at a moment when it became necessary to raise by means of taxation a large sum on the citizens, the senate made a special exemption in favour of him and Titian. The Roman school might lay claim to him, if the works he executed at Rome, and not his style, would justify it; but that is so marked, so tinctured with the system of arcades with orders, its distinguishing feature, that an inspection of his works will immediately satisfy even a superficial observer. He was a great master of his art; and though he does not in so great a degree appear to have profited by the examples of antiquity as the architect last named, he has left behind buildings, which, for picturesque effect, leave him little inferior in our rating. He was the architect of the library of St. Mark at Venice, a portion whereof is given in fig. 173.; a building of noble design, notwithstanding the improprieties with which it is replete. It consists of two orders; the lower one of highly ornamented Doric, and the upper one Ionic and very graceful in effect. Of both these orders, as will be seen in the figure, the entablatures are of inordinate comparative height. The upper one was expressly so set out for the purpose of exhibiting the beautiful sculptures with which it is decorated. The cornice is crowned with a balustrade, on whose piers statues were placed by the ablest scholars of Sansovino. A portico occupies the ground floor, which is raised three steps from the level of the piazza. This portico consists of twenty-one arcades, whose piers are decorated with columns. In the interior are arches corresponding to the external ones, sixteen whereof, with their internal apartments, are appropriated for shops. Opposite the centre arch is a magnificent staircase leading to the hall, beyond which is the library of St. Mark. The

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »