Tuesday, March 5, 2019


Built in 939 as a Benedictine monastery
Rebuilt in 1568
Modified 1764/66 by the great G.B. Piranesi (1720/78) when the Cardinal G.B. Rezzonico, brother of Pope Clement XIII Rezzonico (1758/69), became Grand Master of the Knights of Malta
Piranesi applied a rich stucco decoration of arms and emblems of the Rezzonico family in the decorations above the pediment, eventually destroyed by the French bombardment of 1849
It was his only architectural work of an all “theoretical” career 
The PIAZZA DEI CAVALIERI DI MALTA was designed and carried out as well in 1764 by G.B. Piranesi, the amazing urban creation of a genius
“It is charged with a visionary accent, which pre-romantically enhances the sublime magnificence of the architecture. Notice the crowded reliefs on the facade that seem to act as unpublished fragments of the ancient world, freely manipulated and bizarrely reassembled” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“St. Mary of the Priory is the counterpart of monumentality explored in the reliefs. Docile and slightly melancholic, chipped, with a tremulous design, almost montage of ancient objects found, it expresses a resistance to neo-classicism, inwardly resigned to defeat. (...) He faces the Roman ruins with the taste of Venetian view painting, but then archeology would lead him to an empirical attitude, tinged with enlightenment, which rejects the idealizations of Winckelman and Mengs. Poles of Piranesi's research are 'the evocation of some primitive structuralism' and 'the use of a distortion, a deformation of the organic laws of form'. It is a systematic negative comment 'to the concept of place, the concept of center'; 'he lives the crisis of classical harmony as a painful yet irreversible loss. What he feels he needs to justify, then, is just his intuition of the inevitability of disorder' M. Tafuri writes. The breaking of the laws of perspective is clear: adopting many points of view the Euclidean space collapses. It is no coincidence (...) that Piranesi condemns the monotonous neoclassic rigor defending even the creative freedom of Borromini” (Bruno Zevi)
Interior with stuccos by G.B. Piranesi

“Tomb of Baldassarre Spinelli” using in part a Roman sarcophagus
“Cenotaph of G.B. Piranesi” 1779/80 by Giuseppe Angelini (1742/1811)
“Leopoldo Cicognara stated that the idea for Piranesi's statue derived from an ancient sculpure of Zeno. (...) In a competition with Canova, inspired by Don Abbondio Rezzonico, Angelini sculpted (1781), a Lost Minerva: it seems that victory was for Canova, who modeled the Apollo Crowning Himself, now kept in Possagno. (...) The sculptor Giuseppe Angelini belongs to that group of Italian and foreign artists, working in Rome in the last decades of the eighteenth century, oriented toward the neoclassical style, even before the coming of Antonio Canova. The judgment of the most recent criticism, however, is very restrictive in regards to Angelini” (Mario Pepe - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
Group “Glory of St. Basil” by Tommaso Righi (1727/1802) from the design by G.B. Piranesi
“Tomb of Bartolomeo Carafa” d. 1405 maybe by Magister Paulus and other funerary monuments of the Grand Masters of the Order

Renovated by G.B. Piranesi with archaeological materials
“Well curb” 1244

On the second floor GALLERY with portraits of the Grand Masters from 1113 to today and HALL with “Virgin and Child with St. Basil” by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661) formerly on the altar of the church

Built for Cardinal Benedetto Pamphilj
The complex has a right of extra-territoriality. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), or Order of Malta, is a religious order of chivalry canonically dependent on the Holy See, with charitable purposes
It is recognized by the Italian law and by much of the international community as a subject of international law, although now it doesn't have anymore its territory which once was Rhodes, and until the end of the eighteenth century, Malta

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