Thursday, February 21, 2019


1626/50 Orazio Grassi (1583/1654)
He was a Jesuit Father, an expert architect and mathematician, known for his controversy with Galileo Galilei about the nature of comets
For the design and the building of this church he consulted with Carlo Maderno (1556/1629), Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641) and Francesco Borromini (1599/1667)
1650/85 another Jesuit Father Antonio Sasso continued the work advised by Orazio Torriani (about 1601/about 1657), G.B. Soria (1581/1651) and Paolo Marucelli (1594/1649) by the will of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew and vice chancellor of Gregory XV Ludovisi (1621/23)
Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi was very active in the process of canonization of St. Ignatius (1491/1556), the founder of the Jesuit Order, completed in 1622
The church replaced the original Chiesa dell'Annunziata (Church of the Annunciation), completed in 1567 and part of the complex of the adjacent Collegio Romano, built starting in 1583
In 1685, only the dome was missing, but it was never built due to lack of funds. The construction of the church lasted therefore 60 years

“Inscription” in honor of Ludovico Ludovisi who celebrated the Jubilee of the year 1650 in the unfinished church, supported by figures in stucco “Religion” on the left and “Magnificence” on the right by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654), who also designed the “Frieze with putti, garlands and coats of arms Ludovisi” on the counter façade and the “Friezes” on the arches of the side chapels
The sculptures were probably executed by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86) and Giovanni Morelli

Vault, Dome and Presbytery

Spectacular “Glory of St. Ignatius” 1691/94 masterpiece by Andrea Pozzo (1642/1709)
The painted surface is 750 m² (8,073 square feet) slightly smaller than the area painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, which is about 800 m² (8,600 square feet)
“The greatest of all painters specialized in architectonical perspective, Andrea Pozzo, also was inspired by the Bolognese masters. Unlike the decorative profusion of the drawings by Haffner, the perspective design of Pozzo was always strictly architectural and old-fashioned in this sense. Only the virtuosity and the hypertrophic size of his schemes, typical signs of his last period, gave him his special stature. Inside the architectonical perspective of St. Ignatius, as elsewhere, he fixed his figures in areas of light and darkness not rigidly connected, showing that he too had learned the lesson from Gaulli” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Andrea Pozzo painted also the following decorations in the presbytery:


Above the altar oval with inscription in latin Ego vobis Romae propitius ero, which means I'll forgive you in Rome

“Judith and Holofernes”, “David and Goliath”, “Jael and Sisera” and “Samson and the Philistines” 1685. These scenes were widely criticized at the time they were painted

Also painted by Andrea Pozzo in 1685, before painting anything else
Diameter 17 m (56 feet)
It was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1823 by Francesco Manno (1752/1831) who followed the instructions left by the Pozzo himself who had predicted the destruction
“In many works, from about 1640 onwards, it is implied a double vision, since the method of representation shows how the whole image of a saint and of his vision is the supernatural experience of the viewer. St. Therese by Bernini, represented in ecstasy, seems to be suspended in mid-air, and this may actually appear only under the visionary condition in the mind of the observer. On the ceiling of St. Ignatius light is shown to the saint in ecstasy, but to see the heavens opened with the saint, it is due to the revelation allowed to the viewer. Almost unknown to the early Baroque period, the double vision was often pushed to the limit with all the resources of illusionism during the High Baroque period and supported by drama, by light, by expressions and by gestures. Nothing was left unattempted in order to draw the viewer into the orbit of the artwork. Miracles, wonderful events, supernatural phenomena are given an air of verisimilitude, the improbable and the unbelievable are rendered in a plausible, even convincing way” (Rudolf Wittkower)

Right End Side of the Church

Above the altar “Madonna and Child with Sts. Stanislaus Kostka, and Francesco Regis” by an anonymous artist of the Roman school of the beginning of 1700s
“Wooden model of fantastic temple representing the ecumenical Church of Christ” 2005 by the Neapolitan Vincenzo Pandolfi (1905/2005). He started this work at 78 years of age and completed it when he was 98

1709/12 Nicola Michetti (about 1675/1758) pupil of Carlo Fontana, for Cardinal Giuseppe Sacripanti who wanted to dedicate the chapel to the saint whose name he bore
The Chapel was formerly dedicated to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, represented by Trevisani in the lunette on the right
Above the altar “Virgin Mary and St. Joseph's death” and right lunette “Last Communion of St. Aloysius Gonzaga” about 1713 by the excellent Istrian painter Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746)
“He became famous as the first firm believer of a new formal taste and interpretation, commonly referred to as 'rococo' by modern critics. (...) The seventeenth-century drama is nobly restrained and transposed into a more human dimension, where the divine becomes earthly and where pain is no longer seen as a struggle to rise to the supernatural level, but as a sweet abandon in the acceptance of martyrdom” (Giancarlo Sestieri)
Left lunette “Stigmata of the Blessed Lucia of Narni” about 1713 by Giuseppe Chiari (1654/1727)
The Blessed Lucia of Narni (1476/1544) was compatriot of Cardinal Sacripanti
Dome “Glory of St. Joseph” and pendentives “Marriage of the Virgin Mary”, “Christ among the Doctors”, “Adoration of the Shepherds” and “Dream of St. Joseph” about 1713 by Luigi Garzi (1638/1721)
On the pediment of the altar “Statues of Angels” to the right by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736) and to the left by Vincenzo Felice (about 1657/1715)
Outside the chapel “Wooden model of the dome that was never built” 1921 by Armando Brasini (1879/1965)

Above the altar “Virgin Mary presented to God the Father by Joachim” by the Roman Stefano Pozzi (1699/1768) and “Portrait of St. Robert Bellarmine” by an unknown Roman artist of the seventeenth-century
Lunettes on the sides “Offer to the Temple and appearance of the angel” first half of the eighteenth century by a pupil of Stefano Pozzi
Pendentives “Three theological virtues and Religion” maybe by Stefano Pozzi

1697/99 Andrea Pozzo (1642/1709)
Relief on the altar “Glory of St. Aloysius Gonzaga” 1698
On the sides of the urn “Angels”, all works by Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
Under the table “Urn made of lapis lazuli” with the relics of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of teachers and students
St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568/91) was the eldest son of a marquis and therefore heir to the title. At the age of seven he began to feel a religious vocation and entered the Jesuit Order at seventeen
He died at only twenty-three of plague contracted for wanting to help sufferers of the disease which was afflicting Rome in the years 1590/91
“Angels in marble” on the balustrade by Bernardino Ludovisi (about 1713/49)
Two “Bronze Angels” at the ends of the balustrade maybe by Angelo De Rossi (1671/1715). The two “Bronze Angels” at the center were made in a later period
In the vault fresco “Vision of St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi with ascent to heaven of St. Aloysius Gonzaga” and “Angel Musicians” over the side choruses by Andrea Pozzo, his last paintings in chronological order in the church
“Sophisticated glitz and great technical ability of the bevy of artists and artisans - at the same time also engaged in the altar of St. Ignatius in the Gesù Church - coordinated, in the crowded working site, by Brother Pozzo and Carlo Bonacina, the chief administrative officer of the company, also himself a member of the Society of Jesus” (Stefano Petrocchi)

Fragment of a fresco transferred to canvas with “Virgin of the Annunciation” from the old church that was destroyed, probably the only fragment of the sixteenth century decoration of the church done in the style of the Zuccari brothers

Spectacular “Monument of Pope Gregory XV” Ludovisi (1621/23):
Right in the center there is the pope sitting down and in the lower part the relief with the portrait of his nephew Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, the promoter of the construction of the church
On the left “Religion” and on the right “Munificence”, all works carried out in the years 1709/17 by Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
Gregory XV was the pope who canonized St. Ignatius
At the corners statues “Cardinal Virtues: Temperance, Prudence, Justice and Fortitude“ 1685/86 one of the first Roman works of Camillo Rusconi (1658/1728), possibly designed by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86)
Statues at the sides of the popes representing “Fame” 1709/17 by Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657/1733)

Plaster model of the statue of “St. Ignatius” for the Basilica of St. Peter by Camillo Rusconi completed in 1728 by the pupil Giuseppe Rusconi (1688/1758) after the death of his master. Despite having the same last name, they were not relatives
In the niches “Theological virtues and religion” designed by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86):
“Hope” by Jacopo Lavaggi (active in Rome second half XVIII century)
“Faith” by Simone Giorgini (active in Rome 1677/1712)
“Charity” by Francesco Nuvolone (second half of the seventeenth century)
“Religion” by Francesco Rainaldi

Left End Side of the Church

1749 mirroring the right transept and executed by the stonemason Francesco Cerroti after the rejection of the project by Luigi Vanvitelli who wanted to design it differently
Marble altarpiece “Annunciation” 1750 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
Two “Angels” on the balustrade: the left one rejects the devil and the right one holds the Crown of Thorns of Christ. Allegorical figures on the pediment “Charity” and “Humility” 1749 all works by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
“Filippo Della Valle, despite all his fine qualities and technical skills, was a follower: this relief, which contains a late version of the style to be found in the pictorial reliefs by Alessandro Algardi, shows an accumulation of subordinated details not unlike the style introduced by Domenico Guidi in the first phase of the late Baroque period” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Under the altar “Urn of lapis lazuli” with the relics of St. John Berchmans 1873 by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82) who copied the work of the right transept
In the vault of the transept beautiful fresco with at the center “Assumption”, on the left “Nativity”, on the right “Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple” and lunettes “David” and “Jeremiah” mid 1700s by Ludovico Mazzanti (1686/1775)

Late eighteenth century altar with crucifix and urns with relics
Vault “Angels with Instruments of the Passion of Christ”, lunettes “Visions of the Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque and Nicolò Celestino” and pendentives “Evangelists” 1893 by Giovanni Capranesi (1852/1921) and Domenico De Angelis (1735/1804)

Above the altar “Sts. Francis Xavier and Francis Borgia” maybe by the Jesuit Pierre De Lattre (active in Rome mid-seventeenth century) buried in the church in 1683

Above the altar “St. Gregory the Great and St. Gregory Thaumaturgus” maybe by Pierre De Lattre

Built in the years 1654/61
Vault “Mass of St. Ignatius” and other paintings about 1660 maybe by Pierre De Lattre
Sketches for the decoration of the church and “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” by Andrea Pozzo

Vault “Madonna and Child with Sts. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Cosmas and Damian” 1629 by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661)
In the lunettes “Founders of Medicine” including Aesculapius, Hippocrates, Avicenna and Galen by Andrea Sacchi and Emilio Savonanzi (1580/1660)

Frescoes on the walls “Battles of the victorious Christianity through the intercession of the Virgin Mary” and lunettes “Heroines of the Old Testament” by Jacques Courtois aka Borgognone (1628/79) and his brother Guillaume Courtois aka Borgognone (1628/79)
Frescoes in the vault “Christ in Glory with Sts. Louis and Francis Xavier” by G.B. Laurenzi

All paintings and frescoes depict the Virgin Mary and were painted by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)

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