Wednesday, January 17, 2018


1703/05 lost masterpiece by Alessandro Specchi (1668/1729) built for Clement XI Albani (1700/21)
It was obviously inspirational for Francesco De Sanctis when he conceived the Spanish Steps built in the years 1723/26
During the construction there was an earthquake in Rome which brought down two arches of the second tier of the Colosseum and the fallen blocks were used by Alessandro Specchi as building material for the port
It was unfortunately destroyed at the end of the nineteenth century to build the embankments of the River Tiber
The only remnants are the Fontana dei Navigatori (Fountain of the Navigators) and the two columns that used to adorn the staircase
“In the relatively stagnant climate at the opening of the century Specchi offers a proposal polemic, on one hand, against the official classicism - to which he opposes a revival of Borromini modules - and emblematic, on the other, of the new age for its character of friendly insert in the urban landscape. He solves brilliantly the problem of the connection between the beach and an architectural background not at all uniform: he identifies the major axis in line with the modest façade of the church of St. Jerome, and he engages on it a cylindrical wall which join two flights of descending stairs. Along these there are two extensive sets of stairs, two concave ramps to accommodate those coming from the river. The waving movement of Borromini façades is here transposed on an urban scale to get a perfect interpenetration between architecture and nature, between city and river” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Specchi has crucial importance as the first symptom of the revival of dramatic creative ambitions that characterizes the second and third decades of the century. In his dynamic and open composition there is a bold critique of the eclectic caution of his master Carlo Fontana and a protest against the waste of potential for development implicit in Borromini's inheritance, which in other parts of Europe had otherwise found fertile ground. The composition is related to the one, perhaps suggested by Bernini himself, for the Spanish Steps (...), but in its rigorous research for a plastic or linear continuity reveals a penetrating reading of the last experiences of Borromini, especially the façade of San Carlino. (...) The density of rhythm of Alessandro Specchi was unknown to the more relaxed phrasing of the previous century” (Paolo Portoghesi)

No comments:

Post a Comment