Friday, March 16, 2018

St. AUGUSTINE (second part)

Left End Side of the Church
To the left of the main altar
Frescoes and stucco work on the ceiling “Stories of St. Monica” about 1585/90 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)
Frescoes on the side walls:
On the left “St. Monica comforted by a bishop” and “Vision of St. Augustine converted”, on the right “Conversion of St. Augustine” and “Death of St. Monica” in the altar wall “S. Navigio and S. Perpetua” other children of S. Monica about 1850 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)
On the left “Tomb of St. Monica” (mother of St. Augustine) with sculpture maybe by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) on the very strigillated sarcophagus in which St. Monica was originally buried after her death in 387 in Ostia waiting to embark with his son for Africa
The remains of the saint were moved during the restoration of Vanvitelli in the “Urn of ancient green marble” under the altar
On the right “Tomb of Cardinal Pietro Grifi” sixteenth century
Leftmost chapel
Three canvas: “Madonna appears to Sts. William of Aquitaine and Augustine” in the middle, “St. William of Aquitaine visited and healed by Our Lady” on the left and “St. Augustine ponders the mystery of the Trinity” on the right 1616, first public work in Rome and extraordinary masterpiece by the Baroque giant Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
The effect of optical illusion was diminished when the large tomb of Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali was built and reduced the visibility of the chapel from the outside. Originally the effect was spectacular as only a balustrade was separating the chapel from the church
“In the vault Lanfranco built the first Baroque dome in Rome, transforming elements of Correggio illusionism in a style attributable to an influence of Annibale Carracci. The side paintings are instead dominated by a Caravaggio-like chiaroscuro atmosphere. A first version of the altar piece with only Christ crowning the Virgin (without God the Father) and a different location of the two adoring saints in the lower part, which did not please the clients and the Augustinians, is now in the Louvre” (Eric Schleier - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani)
Marble decoration by Giovanni Maria Baratta (active since 1644/d. after 1679) with the statue of “St. Thomas of Villanova and Charity” outstanding masterpiece of Melchiorre Caffà (1636/67) finished by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86)
The poor Melchiorre Caffà died after completing St. Thomas and having sketched the woman who was executed by Ferrata who also sculpted the statues on the pediment
The chapel was dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova after his canonization in 1658
“The female figure is not an anonymous woman of the people: in an act of poetic identification of the donor with the recipient, she appears in the traditional role of Charity. Placing her outside the central niche and turning her toward the saint, the artist has transformed her as a link between real life and the fictional world of art. Instead of worshiping a cult image the poor who pray here are encouraged to identify with the one who receives alms and to participate in charitable work of the active Church. These figures exhibit a super sensitive spirituality, an almost morbid sensitivity, compared to which the works by Bernini appear massive, strong and manly” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Reliefs in stucco “Miracles of St. Thomas of Villanova” about 1760 by Andrea Bergondi (active in Rome XVIII century)
In the upper right side “Tomb of Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali with allegories of Fame, Time and Death” 1672 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)
The eagle flying out of the tomb represents the soul of the Cardinal
Four “Doctors of the Church” by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) originally part of St. Monica's tomb
“Two busts of Augustinians” by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)
“Crucifix between Sts. Cosmas and Damian” in marble maybe by Luigi Capponi (active end of 1400s/beginning of 1500s)
Above the door relief with “Christ dead held by two angels” maybe by Giovanni Duknovich aka Giovanni Dalmata (about 1440/1510)
Oil paintings on the side walls and in the apse “Stories of St. John of Sahagún” about 1660 by artists of the Roman School
S. Apollonia was a martyr of the third century in Alexandria
She had her teeth torn before spontaneously throwing herself into the fire. That's why she was declared patron saint of the dentists
“S. Apollonia” about 1585 by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
On the right “Allegoric figure symbolizing Martyrdom” and on the left “Allegoric figure symbolizing Virginity” about 1660 works by Francesco Rosa (active since 1674/d. 1687) Roman pupil of Nicolas Poussin and Pietro da Cortona
Extraordinary oil painting “St. Clare of Montefalco” about 1751 by Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764)
St. Clare of Montefalco gives her heart to Christ in search of a place to plant the Cross, disturbing and morbid subject chosen by Sebastiano Conca for one of his last Roman works before returning to Naples
St. Clare was beatified in 1742, a period which was the arrangement of the chapel, and was canonized only in 1881
On the walls on the right “St. Clare in prayer” and on the left “Apparition of Christ to St. Clare” by an anonymous eighteenth-century artist
1643 Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Angelo Pio. Bernini probably entrusted the construction of the chapel to Andrea Bolgi (1606/56)
Apse with frescoes and stucco “Angelic Glory” about 1643/49 by Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56)
The altarpiece “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” also by Abbatini was destroyed during the eighteenth century renovations by Vanvitelli
The image of the Madonna and Child on the altar is a copy of the “Madonna del Buonconsiglio” venerated in Genazzano
On the right “Tomb of Angelo Pio” about 1649 and on the left “Tomb of Baldassarre Pio” about 1643 maybe by Andrea Bolgi
Body of St. Benedict Martyr from the Catacomb of S. Callisto moved here in 1930
Bernini mingled here for the first time frescoes and stucco with an artifice that has made seem “actually true that fake that is nothing but fake”
“The awareness in architectural terms, of the problem of light may proceed from the primitive image of the altar of St. Bibiana and, as successive stages, with the monument of the Countess Matilda in St. Peter's, the Raymondi Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio and the Pio Chapel in St. Augustine. (...) This would bring together works that have in common the purist choice of a single material, white marble, and derive from the experience tied to the constraints of the artistic formation of the sculptor and still are part of the fortune of white marble in Rome around 1630 when, at S. Carlino and Sts. Luke and Martina, the two main antagonists of Bernini lay the foundations of their architectural work, renouncing to the enrichment of colors, typical of Roman Mannerism” (Paolo Portoghesi)
Shocking “Madonna of the Pilgrims” 1603/04 (1606?) by Michelangelo Merisi aka Caravaggio (1571/1610) for Ermete Cavalletti
The Madonna is a portrait of Lena (perhaps also portrayed in the “Death of the Virgin” in the Louvre) holding her son Paul
She was a friend and lover of Caravaggio and because of her the bloody fight took place in Piazza Navona in July 1605 between Caravaggio and the notary Mariano Pasqualoni: Caravaggio seriously injured the notary and he was forced to flee to Genoa for three weeks during which his powerful protectors covered up the story
For the posture of the Virgin Mary Caravaggio was maybe inspired by the ancient sculpture Barbarian Woman or Tusnelda kept in Villa Medici at the time and now in Florence
For the purely classical features of the face and for the long neck perhaps Caravaggio was inspired by the statue of Jacopo Sansovino, the Madonna del Parto a few steps from here
Among the many extraordinary details of a piece of art that moves, engages and shakes the soul one could mention the superb high contrast of light on the face of the Child Jesus, who, also because of this, really manages to appear at once human and divine, as very few similar images in the world do
Also striking is the incredible consistency of the material of the white cloth, symbolizing the shroud of Christ, hanging from the right arm of the Virgin Mary, one of the many technical virtuosity of Caravaggio always fitting and meaningful, never an exercise in self-indulgence
“It still has in common with the Deposition and the Cerasi paintings the diagonal composition, the low eye level and the close-up vision. But the intense darkness of the space envelops the figures even more, it doesn't highlight them from the sculptural point of view as strongly as in Deposition. Whilst generally the Madonna of Loreto is represented enthroned in Her Holy House as she is carried by the angels, the Virgin Mary here is resting on the threshold of a house in Rome in front of two common pilgrims with bare and dirty feet. It was a completely new idea that caused a stir especially among the common people who had identified themselves in those two pilgrims. It is the most moving Caravaggio's painting from the human point of view, based as it is on the meeting, on the close proximity of the pilgrims pious and full of hope, representing the whole of humanity, with the Madonna and Child bringing love, blessing and redemption” (Erich Schleier)
On the right “St. William of Aquitaine” and on the left “St. Mary Magdalene” beginning of 1600s, all works by Cristoforo Casolani (1587/1629), a pupil of Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio
1756/60 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and Carlo Murena (1713/64) to replace the old sacristy incorporated into the convent. In the process Vanvitelli destroyed the Chapel of St. Helena with paintings by Daniele da Volterra
Outside the sacristy
To the right of the door of the sacristy “Bust of Panvinio Onofrio (1530/68)” by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)
Onofrio Panvinio was the founder of Christian archeology and modern ecclesiastical historiography. It was he who first dated from the sources the foundation of Rome on 21 April 753 BC
Above the door of the sacristy “Bust of Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville” patron of the church
Inside the sacristy
Above the door painting “Preaching of St. Augustine” maybe by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
In the ceiling “Baptism of St. Augustine” in 1887 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)
Altar altarpiece “Alms of St. Thomas of Villanova” by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62) from Viterbo, a pupil of Pietro da Cortona
Cabinets made out of wood from Brazil 1760
“Even in the sacristy, as in the works for the convent, the intervention of Vanvitelli is based on a classical and solemn style, with clean lines and harmonious proportions. The simple and almost austere design of the architectural is softened and made more elegant by curvilinear elements as the rounded corners, the clipei, the design of the floor” (Valeria Annecchino)
Angelic Library
Next to the church, the first library in Rome open to the public, founded in 1614 by the Augustinian Angelo Rocca. It is specialized in literature and philology
It became property of the Italian State in 1873
Since 1941 it is the headquarters of the ACCADEMIA LETTERARIA DELL'ARCADIA (Literary Academy of the Arcadia)
It contains about 200,000 volumes, 2,650 manuscripts and more than 1,000 incunabula
Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) designed in 1659 a new wing, executed in the years 1659/69 by Francesco Righi
It was enlarged in the years 1756/65 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and Carlo Murena who designed on the first floor the room known as the “Vase”
The shelves in walnut wood date back to 1668
“Two pairs of celestial and terrestrial globes” 1599 and 1603 unique in Italy
Now it is the Palazzo dell'Avvocatura Generale dello Stato (Palace of the State Attorney General)

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