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On this day, 963 years ago...

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1 October 1507. Or Who Introduced Baroque into Architecture

On this day, 963 years ago,  the great Italian architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola was born. His most famous projects are Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the Jesuits' Church of the Gesu in Rome. The later, actually named Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesu all'Argentina, is the first building with a true Baroque facade.  Vignola is one of the three architects that spread the Italian Renaissance through Western Europe (the other two are Serlio and Palladio). 

One of his most famous works is the Palazzo Bocchi in Bologna. Vignola also worked for Pope Julius III. When the Pope died, the influential Farnese family took the talented architect and that that made possible for Vignola to work with Michelangelo. The work of the great artist influenced him a lot. In 1558 Vignola  worked on the revision of Palazzo Farnese. 6 years later, in 1564 he started working on Michelangelo's St Peter's Basilica and constructed the two subordinate domes following Michelangelo's plans. 

Yet, Vignola's greatest project is the Jesuits' Church of the Gesù in Rome. Michelangelo himself offered to design it for free but the architects chosen for the construction were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. The church was built on the place of the previous church Santa Maria della Strada, where Saint Ignatius of Loyola prayed before an image of the Holy Virgin. 

The construction of church started on 26 June 1568 following the Vignola's design who unfortunately could not see it completed. After his death in 1573 the project was finished by Giacomo della Porta and Giovanni de Rosis. The year was 1580.

The Jesuits' Church of the Gesù in Rome set a pattern for the Jesuit churches in Western Europe and the States that went into the 20th century. But more important, the facade of the building, designed by Vignola and later modified by Giacomo Della Porta, actually introduced Baroque to architecture.

There are two main sections, decorated with acanthus leaves on pilasters and column capitals. The lower section comprises of six pairs of pilasters. The main door is beautifully decorated. The main door are under a curvilinear tympanum and over it - a huge medaillon with the letters IHS (the Latin form of the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name Jesus) and an angel. The two other doors are designed with triangle pediments. In the higher part of this first level two statues are aligned with each of these doors. A statue of St Francis Xavier stands on the right of the facade. On the other side stands a statue of St Ignatius of loyola. The upper section has four pairs of pilasters

You can find more information about the church here.

Ask questions, find answers, and share your thoughts on the history of arr and architecture t by taking part in the one of a kind international scientific conference on arts and humanities "The Magic of the Renaissance" that will take place in Florence, Italy, on 26-28 October, 2020. For more information: www.sgemflorence.org

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