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Rome, Architecture, Later Development

ROME, ARCHITECTURE, LATER DEVELOPMENT The transformation of Roman architecture after the 16th century was marked by the abandonment of classical models. The works of Michelangelo were too grand to be accused of exceeding the extreme limits of good taste, but his scholars and imitators exaggerated his manner, and the barocco style, 8 On Mino da Fiesole, see Gnoli in Archivio Slorico dell' Arte (1890- 91) ; on Giovanni Dalmata, Fabriczy in Jahrb. der preuss- Kunstammlungen (1901); on Andrea Bregno, Steinmann in the same periodical, vol. xx.; many of the monuments are drawn in Tosi, Raccolta di monumenti sacri e sepokrati scolpiti a Roma (1853).

4 These two churches were the first in Rome built with domes after the classical period.

6 The upper storey of the latter is varied by having horizontal lintels instead of arches on the columns.

6 See Geymuller, Projets primitifs pour le basilique de St Pierre a Rome (Paris, 1875-85).

7 A valuable account of Raphael's architectural works is given by Geymuller, Raffaello come Architetto (Milan, 1882). Drawings of many of the finest palaces of Rome are given in the fine work by Letarouilly, Edifices de Rome moderne (Brussels, 1856-66).

which had its cradle in Rome, was soon adopted throughout Italy. Vignola (1507-1573) had done his best to bind the art of building to strictly classic rules, but in spite of his efforts the degeneration made progress during his own lifetime and under Carlo Maderna (1556-1639), and proceeded still more rapidly under Bernini (1598-1680). The characteristics of the barocco are the reckless abuse of curves and extravagantly broken lines, of contorted columns, twisted tympanums and highly exaggerated ornaments; yet we must confess that many monuments of this period of art exhibit such exuberant life, such contrasts of relief and shadow, and such a wonderful combination of variety and solidity as cannot fail to please the many, even now, by the magnificence of their general effect. In Rome, the numerous works of Bernini, Borromini, Maderna, Rainaldi, Salvi, Fuga, Longhi and others bear witness to the gifted activity of Italian architects during that period; if genius necessarily creates, those men showed more of it than their predecessors who adhered to the classic and revered the teachings of Vitruvius. Degeneration is tolerated and sometimes even pleases, under the name of transformation, but there is nothing to be said for the real decay which marks the 1Sth century. It was not universal at first, for it is by nature a slow process; such men as A. Galilei, Specchi, Peparelli, Marchionni, Morelli, Camporese and Piranesi left works not altogether without value; but the outrageous abuse of ornament increased with every year, and was made more and more evident by the clumsy heaviness of the pillars and pilasters that supported the whole. The refined purity of the Renaissance disappeared as completely as the delicate grace and exquisite ornamentation of the Cosmatesque period. Many works of the greatest beauty were destroyed outright, and many more were disfigured and often wholly hidden by horrible stucco constructions and decorations; or, on a larger scale, by the application of hideous stone facades to churches of which the simple good taste had delighted generations of mankind. The deformation of the noble old Lateran basilica is a conspicuous instance of such deeds; another is Santa Maria Maggiore, and the false fronts plastered upon San Marcello and Santa Maria in Via Lata, both in the Corso, give a very clear idea of what was generally done. The interiors of old churches suffered quite as much, and even the frescoes of early masters were not spared; those by Pinturicchio in the third chapel (south) of S. Maria del Popolo were covered with wretched stucco ornaments, only removed in 1850, and numberless works of art by Giotto and other early painters were wilfully destroyed.

The decline of architecture continued in the 1pth century, notwithstanding the laudable efforts of Valadier and a few other painstaking imitators, who produced the so-called "academic neo-classic " reaction; among them may be noted the names of Canina, Poletti, Sarti and Azzurri. The futility of their works invited the feeble eclecticism which soon afterwards became so general that the architecture of the period is wholly without individuality, good or bad. The chief architectural work of the 19th century was the rebuilding of the great basilica of S. Paolo fuori le Mura, burnt in 1823, in a style of cold splendour which is anything but devotional in its general effect. The pillars are huge monoliths of grey granite from the Alps; the confessio and transepts are lined with rosso and verde antico from quarries then recently rediscovered in Greece, and with Egyptian alabaster and lapis lazuli and malachite adorn the bases of the columns round the high altar in lavish profusion. Thirty years were required for the rebuilding of the frigidly magnificent edifice, which was reconsecrated in 1854. The east facade displays a quantity of gaudy mosaics, and the projected quadriportico is wanting. The belfry is nothing but a steeple, and has an unfortunate resemblance to a lighthouse. In extenuation of the result it must be admitted that the original building had been totally destroyed by fire, but no such excuse can be found for the barbarous assault on Christian art which was perpetrated by Francesco Vespignani in the extension of the Lateran basilica.

i cc tioas This work was begun under Pius IX. and finished under Leo XIII.; it involved the destruction of the ancient tribune and its ambulatory, the only parts of the church which had so far escaped complete disfigurement, and the priceless mosaics (1290), among the most beautiful in Rome, were taken down and replaced in the new apse in a sadly mutilated and restored form. (For the interesting discoveries made in excavating for the new foundations, see Ann. 1st. 1877^.332.)

The Vatican contains the largest collection in the world of GrecoRoman and Roman sculpture, with a few specimens of true Hellenic art. It is also very rich in Greek vases and in objects _ .. . from Etruscan tombs; this latter division is called the Museo Gregoriano. There is also an Egyptian museum which contains a few important curiosities. In the great library are preserved a number of early glass chalices and other rare objects from the catacombs, as well as many fine specimens of later Christian art church plate and jewels. The picture gallery, though not as large as some of the private collections in Rome, contains few inferior pictures. The Lateran palace, still, like the Vatican, in the possession of the pope, contains a fine collection of classical sculpture, but is most remarkable as a museum of Christian antiquities. The two capitoline museums are very rich in classical sculpture, bronzes, coins, pottery and the contents of early Etruscan and Latin tombs. A large hall has been added, and is filled with sculptures found in Rome since 1870, of which the arrangement was completed on the occasion of King Edward VII. 's visit. The picture gallery contains a few masterpieces and a large number of inferior works. The new Museo delle Tcrme has been formed in the great cloister of S. Maria degli Angeli, to hold the numerous fine examples of classical painting and sculpture found along the Tiber during the excavations for the new embankment, and in other places in Rome. The university of Rome possesses fine collections of minerals, fossils and other geological specimens, and examples of ancient marbles used in the buildings of Rome. A Museo Artistico Industriale has been formed in a monastery in the Capo le Case, to contain medieval works of art. It is, however, a matter for regret that the few medieval works which Rome possesses should be scattered in three small collections, namely, the one last mentioned, the Capitol and the Castle of S. Angelo, where an attempt is being made to form a real medieval museum; many objects, too, are dispersed throughout the city, and will doubtless disappear unless they are better protected. The Museo Kircheriano contains an unrivalled collection of prehistoric objects of stone, bronze, iron and pottery, found in Italy and the Italian islands, and more particularly a number of ancient Latian urns, capanne and the like. The collection of aes grave is the finest yet made; and the museum also contains a large quantity of interesting classical antiquities of various kinds. Another branch is the Ethnological Museum. Unfortunately all these museums are badly adapted for purposes of study, being neither well arranged nor well catalogued. The Museo Baracco, presented to the city in 1905 by the senator of that name, contains some ancient sculptures of great value. The Museum of Etruscan and Faliscan antiquities in the Villa Giulia, near Porta del Popolo, is of considerable importance, as is also the Borgia Museum in the Propaganda palace, the latter for its ancient geographical curiosities. The museum of plaster casts in the Testaccio quarter contains reproductions of the principal ancient sculptures possessed by foreign museums.

Among the private collections of pictures the Borghese is unrivalled. The next in importance is that in the Doria palace, which, however, like most Italian collections, contains a large proportion of very inferior works. The Corsini picture gallery, bought by the government, is chiefly rich in the works of the Bolognese and other third-rate painters, but also possesses a fine collection of engravings and etchings. There are a few fine paintings in the Barberini palace, but the Sciarra gallery no longer exists. There are some good pictures by Raphael and Guido Reni in the Academy of St Luke; the Galleria d'Arte Moderna is a collection of modern paintings acquired by the government.

The largest private collection of sculpture is that of the Villa Albani, which, among a large mass of inferior Roman sculpture, contains a few gems of Greek art. The original Albani collection was stolen and brought to Paris by Napoleon I., and was there dispersed; one relief, the celebrated Antinous, is the only piece of sculpture from the original collection which was sent back from Paris. This is in the collection of Prince Torlonia, which contains several very fine works, but unfortunatejy the greater number are much injured and falsified by restorations. The casino in the Borghese gardens possesses a great quantity of sculpture, mostly third-rate Roman works, the most important of which, however, are executed in precious marbles. The small collection which formerly existed in the Villa Ludovici has been bought by the government and removed to the Museo delle Terme; it contained a few works of Greek sculpture of great value, the most important being the Pergamean group representing the suicide of a Gaulish chief, a Medusa's head in relief and a male terminal figure. The Giustiniani collection, which was considerable, is now dispersed, but many private residences, such as the Colonna palace, still contain collections of sculpture and painting of a secondary order.

The principal libraries in Rome are, for old and modern works, the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele and the library of the German i ih* i Archaeological Institute; for manuscripts and early ' books, the Angelica, the Casanatense, the Alessandrina and the Chigi libraries; but none of them can be compared with that of the Vatican, which now contains also the former library of the Barberini. Mention must also be made of the Corsiniana, now belonging to the Accademia dei Lincei. The Biblioteca Sarti, beside the Academy of S. Luke, contains works on art.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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