Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture

Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture

Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture

Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture

Synopsis

From the late 1500s to the mid-1700s, Italy gave the world some of the liveliest and most imaginative structures in the history of architecture. This profusely illustrated book is the first comprehensive study in English of the works that emerged throughout the Italian peninsula during this critical period. "If Renaissance architecture was to be contemplated on an intellectual level," John Varriano writes, "Baroque architecture was to be experienced with the emotions and the senses." The grandiloquent projects of the Baroque age were generally sponsored, either directly or indirectly, by the Catholic Church, but as Varriano notes, their appeal has always transcended the immediate self-promotion of their patrons and held powerful sway over people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Coming from an era when architecture was considered a true art, the best Baroque buildings are capable of provoking universal human responses. Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture offers chapters on the key architects of the time--Gianlorenzo Bernini, Francesco Borromini, Pietro da Cortona, Guarino Guarini--as well as detailed treatments of the work of many less well-known architects who were active from Sicily to Venice. More than half of the 190 photographs and illustrations were made expressly for this book or have not previously been published. These pictures wre chosen to convey the actual experience of the site. About the Author: John Varriano is Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College. He has published numerous articles in his field and is the co-author of Roma Resurgens: Papal Medals from the Age of the Baroque. The first comprehensive study of a key era in architectural history

Excerpt

Capricious and bizarre were the words used by a popular seventeenth-century Roman guidebook to describe buildings that today we call Baroque. Later critics wrote of such buildings in even harsher terms. Francesco Borromini, one of the most progressive of Baroque architects, was accused of trying to "debauch mankind with his odd and chimerical beauties," and equally acerbic comments and unflattering assessments prevailed in the literature until the beginning of the twentieth century. Even then, expressions like "rough, rude, and uncouth" were still applied to structures of similar character. Undoubtedly, it was the self-assured, at times flamboyant way in which the design of many Baroque buildings violated the cherished canons of classical architecture that disturbed most critics. To those raised in other faiths, the predominant associations of Italian art with institutions of post-Reformation Catholicism could be just as offensive. Only in our own secular age, now as weary with modernist reduction as with premodern censures against flaunting accepted conventions, have students of architecture become sympathetically attentive to the imaginative solutions of the Italian Baroque.

The origin of the word Baroque is so steeped in confusion as to be itself the subject of a growing scholarly literature. Only in the last century has it been freed from its traditional associations with speciousness and a lack of refinement. Like Gothic, which had long been synonymous with barbaric but which now usefully describes the art of the late Middle Ages, Baroque has become the most widely accepted designation for the period-style that prevailed in Europe from the end . . .

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