Saturday, August 25, 2018


Built in the years 1598/1602 for Caterina Nobili Sforza S. Fiora, nephew of Julius III Del Monte (1550/55), using one of the four corner towers of the ancient enclosure of the Baths of Diocletian (284/305) built from 298 to 306 AD
The tower was maybe a Sphaeristerium, a gym for some ball game, or a room for reading and studying
Restorations for the consolidation of the dome were carried out in 1857: the lantern of the sixteenth century that burdened too much the ancient dome was taken off
It is dedicated to the Burgundian St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090/1153) the founder of the Cistercian Order
It is also known as the Church without Windows

DOME (diameter 22 m - 72.2 feet)
Along the perimeter “Eight statues of saints” in stucco over 3 m (10 feet) tall, about 1599/1602 masterpiece of Camillo Mariani (1567/1611)

“He was born in Vicenza and in the study of Rubini he had the inestimable advantage of going through the discipline of the school of Alessandro Vittoria. Shortly after his arrival in Rome he made these noble figures of monumental saints, his masterpieces. The Venetian touch is visible to all but it was strengthened with a new emphasis and a fine psychological insight, so that these works raise well above the average contemporary production and are linked to the intensity of the transitional style in painting in which we find crystallized the true spirit of the great reformers” (Rudolf Wittkower)

“Camillo Mariani was instrumental in the formation of another great sculptor, Francesco Mochi, who, some scholars speculate, might have been a young assistant of the master in S. Bernardo. Mindful of the painting of the Venetian masters such as Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto, Mariani here realizes 'the achievement of monumentality combined with naturalness, the bright distinction of matter combined with a noble stylization' (Nava Cellini). It is a style that would leave a deep imprint in the Roman scene and it would be a source of inspiration and reflection for many seventeenth-century sculptors, including Bernini himself” (Sergio Lombardi)

“Vision of St. Bernard” about 1705 by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731), a pupil of Baciccio
In 1718 Odazzi was commissioned to add a lunette in the upper part of the painting, which was originally rectangular. The addition is well connected and the painted angels help to give a buoyancy to the composition

“Odazzi, faithful follower of Baciccio, shows here that he was influenced by the master in the figures of angels and in the bright colors he used, as well as in the setting of the theatrical scene” (Sergio Lombardi)

The painting is flanked by two beautiful columns in verd antique (ancient green) marble from the Baths of Diocletian
“Tomb of S. Giovanni della Barrière” 1626 with painting maybe by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661)
At the sides canvas “Death of Joseph” second half of seventeenth century by anonymous and “Madonna of Loreto” beginning of seventeenth century by Carlo Saraceni (1579/1620)
Carlo Finelli from Carrara was part of a family of sculptors including the great Giuliano Finelli precious collaborator of Bernini in the extraordinary group of Apollo and Daphne in the Galleria Borghese

In 1730 Giovanni Odazzi was commissioned to add, just like in the opposite painting, a lunette in the upper part
This painting, like the one in front, is flanked by two beautiful columns in verd antique (ancient green) marble from the Baths of Diocletian

To the right of the Presbytery
Family chapel of the Nobili, built in 1647 for Vincenzo Nobili, grandson of Caterina Nobili Sforza
“Statue of St. Francis in Ecstasy” about 1647 by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619/71), who also sculpted the statue of the Nile in the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona
On the left “Tomb of the painter Johann Friedrich Overbeck (1789/1896)” 1869 by the German Karl Hoffmann (1815/86), his friend and collaborator
On the walls “Busts of Nobili family members: Vincenzo junior, Pierfrancesco, Sforza, Roberto and Vincenzo” who had initiated the construction of the chapel, 1647/49 by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli who also made the rich stucco decoration of the ceiling that frames the painting “St. Francis in Glory with Angels” and “Angels with Instruments of the Passion” in the square panels 1897 by Mario Adami
The altars on the left and on the right exhibit considerable seventeenth century frontals in scagliola, a type of fine chalk that mimics inlaid marble

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