Tuesday, January 24, 2017


S. Ivo alla Sapienza
1642/55 and 1659/61 consecrated 1660, an absolute masterpiece by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) on which he worked during the three pontificates of Pope Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44), Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55) and Alexander VII (1655/67)
“Brilliant unconventional concept space that attaches structural value to heraldic insignia” (Paolo Portoghesi)
“The interpenetration of two equilateral triangles (symbolically referring to the Trinity) led to a hexagonal star that had no precedent in the Italian architectural tradition. The shape of the star reappears clear in the entablature and continues in the dome where it reaches the maximum values of vertical tension. Outside with the light spiral structure the style of Borromini reached his peak and disconcerted his contemporaries, witnesses of a vision of space that cancels the boundaries between mass and atmosphere” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“In this reduction of multiplicity to unity, of differentiation and variety to the simplicity of the circle, consists mostly the charm of this church. Geometric conciseness and inexhaustible imagination, technical ability and religious symbolism have rarely found such a merger. You can trace the downward movement of pure forms of the heavenly area to the increasing complexity of the terrestrial zone. Decorative elements of the dome, the vertical rows of stars, the papal coat of arms above the alternate windows, the cherubim under the lantern, are fantastic, unreal and exciting and at the same time speak a clearly symbolic language” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Six double columns, with twelve lilies and twelve columns on the entablature. Extraordinary helix-shaped spiral
“Among the various interpretations given so far (Tower of Babel, etc.) The most striking and fascinating is that, referring to the bull of Boniface VIII on the topographic centrality of the Studium umbilicus Urbis (navel of the world), links the Latin word to the rod, known as umbilicus, around which was wrapped the scroll of writing, with clear reference to the fact that study can be considered to be concluded only when the roll was read to the rod (Raspe 2000). (...) But one cannot overlook another symbolic interpretation (...): the shell fastens to the formal structure of the body of the bee, in turn, similar to the shape of a tiara: a set of symbolic meanings combined and filtered by the visibility of the form” (Antonella Pampalone)
Restored 1858/60 by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82) who superimposed on the original white walls a decoration with colored faux marbles. It was removed by the further restoration of the years 1967/68
1660, rebuilt in 1664 and in the years 1783/84 by Nicola Forti (active in Rome the second half of the eighteenth century)
It was placed on the high altar only in 1685 in a “Frame of ancient yellow marble” by G.B. Contini (1641/1723)
The painting had been commissioned by Alexander VII who, during the consecration, placed inside the altar the relics of the sixth pope, S. Alexander I (105/115)

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