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Baroque 1600 - 1700

Origins --- Belief System --- Political Situation--- Baroque Architecture

Baroque architects --- Bernini--- Borromini---Mansart-- Wren

Baroque in Italy --- Il Gesu---- St. Peter's--- San Andrea al Quirinale--- San Carlo--- Palazzo Barberini

Baroque in Spain --- Cartuja Monastery Sacristy--- University of Granada---

Baroque in France - Institute of France---- Louvre Horloge--- Chateau de Blois-- Versailles---

Baroque in the North --- Russia--- Estonia--- Netherlands--- Belgium

Baroque in England --- St. Pauls History--- St. Paul's--- Trinity Library--- Santa Trinita

 

Origins

By 1540 the restraint of the best High Renaissance work had come to seem dull and lifeless. Designers were tired of the strict ordering of elements on buildings and were pushing the boundaries of Classical design. The search for something new and vibrant lead to Mannerism. Michelangelo was one of the first to explore the plastic nature of building forms. Many of his followers explored similar variations on the accepted classical vocabulary. In response to this, classicists such as Palladio and Inigo Jones championed the ideal and lead the way back to a strict adherence to equilibrium. In most of Europe there was a similar rift in the acceptance of strict classical principles, but each country reacted in a different way.

Belief System

The Catholic church had lost a significant section of its holdings during the Reformation (1517-1648), but was expanding in many parts of the western world. In response to Luther and Protestantism was the Counterreformation (1560 -1648) which was a response both to the loss of the faithful in the Protestant movement and a move by the Catholic Church to respond to a changing society. In both cases, there was a resurgence of faith in the Pope and the Catholic church within Catholic countries.

Baroque art and architecture was originally found only in those countries that remained Catholic after the Reformation. Particularly in Italy, Baroque architecture provided a canvas for the explosion of heavenly glory found in both sculpture and painting. Faith was renewed, and this faith was full of theatre, emotion and drama.

Political Situation

The upper classes still had control of Europe, but there was a large and growing middle class that could effectively make a good living in commerce. As the seventeenth century wore on, theatre became more popular, Opera grew in many directions, and the middle class became a stronger and more vital part of the society.

The Baroque movement spread rapidly through the Catholic countries (Italy, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire (Catholic Germany, Austria and Hungary). France was a reluctant follower of the style, introducing it's own version called Rococo. In England, civil war, Cromwell and continuing identity problems of the Christian church made development of a centralized style difficult.

Baroque Architecture

Baroque architecture grew out of Baroque art which was a clear reaction to Renaissance principles of balanced proportions. Bernini and Borromini were the founding fathers of the style, exploding the Renaissance ideas of form, replacing an aesthetic of ideal form and balance with a desire to create passion and excitement.

Bernini and Borromini were extreme and incendiary. Their style, while fully appropriate for Rome, was tempered down and spread in a milder version by Carlo Fontana throughout Europe.

Baroque artists deserted symmetry and equilibrium to experiment with new and vigorous massing. Baroque is a mixture of architecture, sculpture, painting and trickery. Most educated people were well aware of architectural detailing and Renaissance proportions. When Baroque architects manipulated the well known forms, it was often seen as a visual joke, similar to some of the Post Modern work such as the BBC building in London.

Baroque Architects

Giovanni Lauren Bernini (1598 - 1680)

Bernini was a sculptor first, as was his father. His early work was sculpture in the Mannerist style. In his early sculptures, both Classical and biblical themes, he explores the relationship between the subject and the surrounding space. Michelangelo's figures were self-contained, illustrating a moment in time, an emotion, a thought. Bernini's sculptures are about action. The figures escape the confines of the block and intrude into the spectator's space, thus making the viewer part of the action, part of Bernini's exploration of the divine, the mystical and the earthly. This was the central thought behind the Baroque movement, and Bernini was at the forefront of this movement. His buildings, St. Peter's, San Andrea al Quirinale, and others, are a sculptor's interpretation of a building. It is not surprising that Bernini also wrote plays and operas as well as doing set design and composing music.

Francesco Borromini (1599 - 1667)

Borromini was a sculptor and mason who studied under Bernini in Rome. His work is less energetic and more intricate than that of Bernini. The San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is his most important work. The floor plan of the church is the epitome of Baroque design.

Other important architects of the period are:

Carlo Fontana (1638 - 1714)

Carlo Maderna (1556 - 1629)

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola 1507 - 73

 

Carlo Fontana was responsible for taking a somewhat milder form of the Baroque to the rest of Europe.

 

Mansart

 

Christopher Wren

 

 

 

 

 

Baroque in Italy 1600 - 1700

Il Gesù, Vignola

1568 -1584


Vignola was a Mannerist. He followed the classical rules but stretched them to their limits and added embellishments and ornament that the classicists would not have.

The façade of IL Gesù is a modified, some say improved, version of Alberti's San Andrea in Mantua. Mannerist elements can be seen in exaggerated scrolls that and the broken pediment on the second level. The first level is two super-imposed Orders with niches and a large crest. The niches barely contain their scultpures.

Il Gesu

St. Peter's Piazza
1655-67

Bernini is responsible for the Piazza - 198m (657 feet) wide, which clasps the vast space in front of the cathedral. It is composed of 284 Tuscan columns making a four fold colonnade. The colonnade is kept to low to integrate with the surrounding space, is symbolic of the protective arms of the church as they embrace the faithful collected in the square to receive the words of the pope.

Bernini's Piazza

Baldachino - Bernini

1655-67

For most Baroque design it is difficult to say where sculpture ends and architecture begins. This is illustrated in the large ornate canopy covering the High Altar, which stands over the crypt of St. Peter and under Bramante's dome.

The whole perspective of the church converges on this central altar. The Baldachino is 100 feet high (30.5 m) made of bronze. Four huge twisted bronze columns are more sculptural than structural. On top of each is a bronze angel flanked by cherubs. The pinnacle is an orb with a cross supported by huge bees, the symbol of the Barberini family who paid for it.

Bernini's Baldacchino

San Andrea al Quirinale Bernini

1633-58

Bernini was also an important figure creating sculptures in many of the major churches and works of the time.

This is the best known of Bernini's churches which are all small, but widely imitated later on. The protruding vestibule comprises a pair of overlaid plain Corinthian pilasters, with pedimented entablature above, enclosing an archway and a semi-circular two-columned porch, on which is a large, sculptured coat of arms. (Fletcher)

The Quirinale family were a strong force in Rome.

 

San Andrea al Quirinale

San Andrea al Quirinale interior

1658

Behind the sculpted portico lies an elliptical dome 80 feet by 55 feet across (24m x 16.8m). The scheme is similar to the Pantheon in that the central area is surrounded by eight radiating chapels. The walls are very thick.

Above each clerestory window is a set of sculpted figures, some adult, some children. The ribbed dome is inset by sextagonal coffers. Unlike the Pantheon whose occulus is open, this one is capped but with enough light to make it appear a floating disk of gold.

 

elliptical dome

S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane 1665 - 67

Borromini

The façade of this church shows the undulating curves that are typical of the Baroque era. An exaggerated cornice above an inscripted architrave is supported on four composite giant order columns. The second level within the columned area contains large exuberant figures. The first level niches contain crowned, elliptical openings within a secondary set of columns.

The play of curves and counter-curves is a well known motif of Baroque architecture. This was the first building to employ them.

Quattro Fontane

S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane 1665 - 67

The upper section of the façade shows the same dynamic curves. The central bay curves forward while the lateral bays curve back. It is a pliant spatial form. The two angels seem to be flying in front of the church to hold up the large oval medallion.

Borromini worked in the studio of Bernini, on the Baldachino and on the Palazzo Barberini. This church, affectionately known as San Carlino, is the first work that is truly his own.

Quattro Fontane

S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane 1665 - 67

This detail of the corner fountain shows the playfulness of the overall design.

Fountain detail

Doorway

Across the street is this fabulous door surround obviously from the same period.

door Broken Pediment guttae

St. Agnese - Borromini

1652 - 1666

Along with Bernini, Borromini set the tone for the Baroque age. The façade fronts onto the Piazza Navona in Rome. Borromini was the most eccentrically imaginative of all the Roman designers. He was accused of violating good taste in his pursuit of the new. His anguished, tense, emotional sculpture is dynamic.

The plan is comparatively restrained, but the splendid composition with recessed front, twin campanili, and commanding dome is largely due to Borromini The interior is by Rainaldi. (Fletcher)

St. Agnese

S. Maria della Pace- Rome - 1656

Originally built by Bramante, the façade with semicircularportico was redone by Cortona. Like the Quattro Fontane, this is a study in convex and concave forms. The heavy pillars and columns provide the solid structure and the building is woven through them.

This portico may have been copied by Christopher Wren when he did the South Portal of St. Paul's Cathedral.

St. Agostino

S. Maria della Pace - detail

Here is a detail of the Santa Maria della Pace. Note the medallion that looks like a coin. On top of it is a scroll. It is being supported by two cherubs who are sitting on floral cushions. The scroll is elliptical, not round. The entablature is plain, but it is not flat, two small columnar sections protrude on each side.

St. Agostino

Victor Emmanuel

Sacconi 1885

The monument to Victor Emmanuel II started many years later illustrates the academic application of Baroque forms.

Great bronze sculptural groups adorn the paired end pavillions of the colonnaded terrace. In the center is an equestrian statue of the King. This harkens back more to the Baroque than to the Renaissance.

Victor Emmanuel

Victor Emmanuel

Sacconi 1885

An interesting Post Modern film encompassing many concepts of Roman architecture is peter Greenaways The Belly of An Architect. Like most Greenaway films it is severely twisted, but an excellent allegory of Roman building and subsequent intellectual thought.

Victor Emmanuel

Palazzo Barberini _1628 - 38_

This Palazzo was designed by Maderna but was finished by Bernini and Borromini. The palazzo has no courtyard, but instead is an H shape. The façade is rhythmic, composed of Roman Order pediments.

The windows on the inner area are more sculptural.

Palazzo Barberini

Palazzo

16??

 


 

Baroque Windows

Rococo Design

 

 

Rococco

Broken Pediment

 

Broken Pediment

Palazzo Barberini

1628-1638

This design was done by Maderna, but executed by Bernini and Borromini. The two lower floors are fairly standard, with a straightforward application of the "Roman Order" design; first floor with engaged Doric columns, and the second with engaged Ionic. The third floor, however, has the seven windows treated with perspective. There are overlaid pilasters leading to the entablature and cornice. Richer ornamentation and the trick of perspective are what gives this a Baroque air.

wells

 

Baroque

Santa Maria della Salute Venice 1676

Baldassare Longhena

Longhena was the most distinguished Venetian architect of the period. Santa Maria was designed and built in gratitude for the end of the plague. It is an octagonal church with temple fronts on each side capped with oversized scrolled buttresses supporting a massive circular dome. Atop the buttresses are acropodiums.

A secondary dome over the altar has the same general shape and lantern as the central dome.

The façade of the church fronts onto the This church exemplifies the Venetian Baroque period.

Longhena

Palazzo Pesaro

Longhena

This palazzo illustrates how the Roman palazzo style, with first floor rustication and subsequent tiers of orders, was translated into Venice. Arches between the columns show the ornament particular to the Venetian area. Garlands, swags and lions heads adorn the cornice and show the decorative style that was typical of the period.

 

 

 

 

 

Pesaro

Baroque in Spain

The extreme form of Baroque Classicism seen in Italy was echoed in Spain with the work of a family of stuccoists called Churriguera. It took the form of detailing more than the sculptured undulating façades and elliptical interiors, but it was as elaborate as anything done in Italy.

The trend was started by Alonso Cano for the Churriga family in Salamanca and then spread through Spain. It is generally very elaborate stucco detailing found on door and window surrounds. Stucco had been seen for centuries in Spain in the decoration of mosques and palaces for the large Saracen and Muslim population. The Alhambra in Granada, the palace in Seville, and the beautiful decoration in the north, Leon, Salamanca and other centers, set the stage for this movement.

 

Prior to the Chirruguesque style in Spain was the Plateresque style.

Chirruguesque detailing includes a wide variety of subject matter. Where France has mostly natural elements on the carving, Spain includes mythological creatures such as centaurs and griffins, a wide variety of angels, cherubs and putti, and an equally profuse amount of historical portraits as can be seen in the images below..

Cartuja Monastery Sacristy - Granada

The Plateresque style in Spain was an interesting mixture of Renaissance and Gothic imagery. The Chirruguerra style which started in Salamanca and then graveled across Spain is even more ornate. The sacristy of the monastery shows the full extent of the exuberant style which can only be described as Over The Top.

"an embarrassment of mouldings in white stucco, repeated three or four times like a series of pleats or folds" Nuttgens

 

Cartuja Monastery

Cartuja Monastery - Granada

 

The altar shows a similar passion for layering, one on top of the other. This is the very opposite of understated elegance.

Cartuja Monastery

University of Granada

The main door of the University of Granada has Solomon columns similar to those in the Baldachino in St. Peter's. Like Bernini's San Andrea al Quirinale, there are a wide variety of classical elements, all used in distinctly unclassical ways.

The paired receding columns on the upper level support an ornate entablature with a broken pediment crowned by a cartouche. Under this entablature is a niche containing the robed female figure of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

The lower level columns are also paired. They support the Baroque style temple front described above which is sitting on an entablature that has two broken Florentine pediments on either side. The bases have the Spanish Muquarna molding design. The spandrels and the frieze are both decorated with almost arabesque floral patterns.

Every possible surface is decorated with acanthus leaves, volutes, scrolls, or orbs.

 

University of Granada

Baroque in France

In Italy Baroque architects were continuing the reinterpretation of the Classical ideals of the past mixed with the Humanist ideas of the Renaissance, all tempered by a good sense of design, but pushing the accepted forms to their very maximum and adding drama and energy.

Renaissance forms and proportions had taken root in France as well, and by 1650 architects were following a similar reinterpretation of forms. This time it was along a much more philosophical level which incorporated ideas of purity, austerity and formal discipline. During the Renaissance, the French had adapted s superficial finish with classical detailing as the accepted vocabulary. During the Baroque era in Italy, the French embraced the Italian architectural treatises and used them to create their own rational system of harmonies and proportions which resulted in the French Golden Age of Classical architecture. Examples of this are the Institute of France, the new wings of the Louvre, and Mansart's new wing on Château de Blois. The style can be seen in Paris for centuries to follow.

The other side of French architecture during the 17th and 18th century was an elegant and lighthearted style designed for the fashionable society in Paris. Decoration was pushed to the limit. Instead of the simple forms of the classical, there was a profusion of surface ornament. The style became known as Rococo or Rocaille after the rocks, shells and natural elements that were some of the natural forms used in the decoration. It was first introduced in the Château de la Menagerie commissioned by Louis XIV for the thirteen year old fiancée of his eldest grandson. The decoration was to be light and airy, befitting a child.

Baroque is the architecture of pageantry. It is also the design for interiors fit for music, string quartets, writing letters, and courtly flirtations. The frescoes of the French Baroque period produced by Watteau and Fragonard do much to illustrate the time. The mixture of the pageantry and the courtly elegance are seen in Versailles.

Versailles 1675
Jacques Lemercier 1585 - 1654
Francois Mansart 1598 - 1666
Louis Le Vau 1612 - 1670
Le Notre - great gardener

Institute of France

1662 Louis le Vau

The Institute of France, also known as the "College of the Four Nations", was constructed for those students coming from territories which had recently come under French rule through the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659).

During the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque periods, France twice invaded Italy. Charles VIII 1494 , Francois 1515 were not impressed with the overall style, but found some of the detail impressive. The role of the decorative designers was predominant.


 

Institute of France

Louvre

Pavilion de l'Horloge 1650

The Pavilion de l'Horloge was added to the Louvre by Louis XIII. It lead the way to the more flamboyant designs commissioned his son Louis XIV in Versailles. As well, this is where Charles II and Christopher Wren stayed while exiled in France after the death of Charles I. This building had a huge impact on English architecture.

As can be seen in the following pictures, roofs were very important to the French. The Mansard roof, invented in the Late Renaissance by François Mansard, allows a row of rooms on the upper and usually fourth floor under the roof.

Pavilion de l'Horloge

Blois 1635

Francois Mansart

This is one of Mansart's finest works showing the grand simplicity of the French Classical style. The massing of the blocks is masterful. Like the Coliseum, the ground floor has the Doric order, the second level has the Ionic, and the third or attic story has a truncated version of the Corinthian order.

The crowning feature of this design is the high pitched roof with two angles broken by dormers that bears his name.

 

Chateau Blois

Blois 1635

Francois Mansart

The main door of this wing of Blois was approached by colonnades with paired and clustered columns.


 

Chateau Blois

Paris

 


 

Art Gallery

Paris

Claridges

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chateau Chambord

Versailles 1675

Louis XIV


 

Versaille

Versailles

Versailles was built in a period of eloquence and insatiable pageantry. There were no sanitary conveniences. It was made around Le Notre's grand garden design. The trianon and the Petit Trianon were built within the palace walls so that the inhabitants could have a bit of privacy.

 

Versaille

Versailles

Jules Hardouin Mansart 1646 - 1708 is the interpreter of Louis Xiv architectural ambitions.


 

Versaille

Versailles

1662 Louis le Vau

Francois Mansard 1598 - 1666
Louis Le Vau 1612 - 1670
Le Notre - great gardener


 

Versaille

Versailles

1662 Louis le Vau

Development of the "French Order" started when Francis I set up his hunting lodge at Fontainbleau into a design center, thereby setting up the French center of the Renaissance. Il Rosso and Primaticcio were the court painters brought in from Italy. They changed their proportions for the French style. The French had very large fireplaces, large windows and great chimneys.

Versaille

Versailles

1662 Louis le Vau

Francois Mansard 1598 - 1666
Louis Le Vau 1612 - 1670
Le Notre - great gardener


 

Versaille

Versailles

1662 Louis le Vau

Francois Mansard 1598 - 1666
Louis Le Vau 1612 - 1670
Le Notre - great gardener


 

Versaille

Versailles Garden

Le Notre

Parterre - various sized and shaped garden beds


 

Versaille

Baroque in the North: Russia, Estonia, Belgium and Holland

The extreme theatricality of the Italian Baroque was not seen outside Italy.

 

 

 

 

Russia

Hermitage



 

Hermitage

Russia

Hermitage - corridor

 

Hermitage

Estonia

Francois Mansart

 

Tallinn

Estonia

Palace of Peter the Great


 

Tallinn

Netherlands

Gable


 

Dutch Gable Amsterdam

Bruges - Belgium

******

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruges

Brussels - Belgium

******

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruges

Baroque in England

 

The Baroque in England is distinctly different from anything in the rest of Europe. It was very short lived, giving way within a few decades to the restrained Classicism of Palladian.

James Gibb studied under Carlo Fonatana and this influence can be seen in a few of his early works.

Christopher Wren was as close to Baroque as England ever became, particularly in his St. Peter's Cathedral. Some of his many churches are Baroque in nature, but very differnt from either the French or the Italian.

Restoration 1660
Great Fire of London 1666

Inigo Jones - was trained in the Palladian discipline and brought back drawings to England of the Greek and Roman ruins.

Christopher Wren

St. Martin in the Field

The great fire of London gave Wren an unparalleled opportunity for church building. Christopher Wren did not study architecture, but studied science. He was invited to Paris by Louis XIV, while there he was introduced to Bernini, Mansard, and Le Vau.


The Royal Commission to rebuild London, after the fire, was headed by Christopher Wren.

Christopher Wren

James Gibb

St. Mary le Strand (1714-1717)

James Gibb, born near Aberdeen, travelled extensively throughout Europe, studying with Carlo Fontana, before he returned to England. His first church, St. Mary le Strand, illustrates the high point of Baroque in England.

The three-storeyed steeple, semicircular portico and superimposed Ionic and Corinthian orders are indicative of the Baroque unrestrained 'mixing' of elements. This is one of the churches built under the commission headed by Christopher Wren.

 

Christopher Wren

Trinity College Library

Cambridge - Wren

We know more about what Wren was actually thinking when he designed this than in any other building because he documented his thoughts in a letter sent to the administrator. Here he is deliberately following the method of the ancient Romans in creating a double walkway. He studied Palladio's books extensively for the detailing of the Doric order engaged columns.

Trinity College

Georgian

Salisbury

This Georgian House with an ornate portal is typical of the time.


 

Georgian House

ST. Paul's Cathedral

 

The first of many versions of the cathedral is believed to have been built by the Saxons in about 604 AD. This cathedral was built in wood and burned down about ten years after it was built. The Cathedral was rebuilt a number of times over the next hundred years, progressing in architecture and style every time it was rebuilt. The third St. Paul's, which was built by the Normans, took over two hundred years to build and was finally completed in the 14th century. By the 16th century, St. Paul's was severely decaying and over the next hundred years went through many renovations until it was destroyed the Great Fire of London in the 17th century. 1666 to be exact. Christopher Wren built a sanctuary exactly 6660 inches long.
The story of the new St. Paul's begins with the inscription RESVRGAM engraved on the first stone laid, meaning 'I resurrect'. There are many, many great stories attached to this building.

Wren's original design for the cathedral was rejected by the church as being too modern. The second design, submitted in 1675, was a domed church in the shape of a Greek Cross. This, too, was rejected. This time the reason given was that it was too modern and too Italian (read Catholic). The scale model of this design, called the Great Model, can be viewed in the crypt of the present St. Paul's.


Finally in 1675 Wren gave the clergy what they wanted; a traditional English church design with a long nave and spire. King Charles II granted Wren a royal warrant approving this design with the interesting proviso that the architect was free to make "variations, rather ornamental than essential". One can almost imagine Charles giving his favorite Wren a sly wink as this was penned.
On the strength of the Royal Warrant Wren proceeded to quietly change just about every essential element of the design the clergy thought they were getting. He got rid of three bays in the nave, did away with the spire, enlarged the dome, and raised the aisle walls.
Much of this work proceeded behind scaffolding and protected from prying eyes. By the time the furious clergy realized what Wren had done the church was too far gone to be altered.

They were not the only ones to be hoodwinked by Wren. The London Building department would not approve the design for the dome since a dome with that rotunda height topped by a dome had never been done. The triple-layered dome that crowns the cathedral is the second largest in the world. They insisted that Wren have a chain, similar to that put in Hagia Sophia when it started to crumble, around the bottom of the dome. Wren put in the chain but was not convinced that it was necessary. On December 29, 1940, the night of one of the most devastating German aerial attacks, the Cathedral's dome caught fire from one of the burning buildings surrounding it. Flames arose from the dome but did only superficial damage, it didn't collapse. During the restoration in 1947, structural engineers noted that the chain at the base of the dome was built missing one link.
When stone was laid for the centre of the new building, stones from the Old St. Paul's were used. Wren noticed that one of the stones was marked with the Latin inscription "resurgam", "I shall rise again". He had the word inscribed on the pediment of the south door, beneath a carved phoenix.

The Phoenix symbolizes rebirth, especially of the sun, and has variants in European, Central American, Egyptian and Asian cultures. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The new phoenix embalms the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in Heliopolis ("the city of the sun" in Greek), located in Egypt. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible A new phoenix always rises from the ashes. Ancient sources on the mythological bird include Clement, Ovid, Pliny, Tacitus and Herodotus. Although descriptions (and life-span) vary, the phoenix (Bennu bird) became popular in early Christian art, literature and Christian symbolism, as a symbol of Christ, and further, represented the resurrection, immortality, and the life-after-death of Jesus Christ.

The phoenix, not a Christian symbol, is widely used by Freemasons, as, indeed, is anything coming from Egypt. Wren was certainly a Freemason as were many of the architects of his time.

St. Paul's 1675 - 1715

Christopher Wren

West Façade

St. Paul's was built by Wren after the fire on the site of a medieval cathedral.

Wren's original plan was for a Greek Cross design.

This was given up for a traditional Gothic design church, with classical detailing throughout. The clergy ordered the change because of the services. Height is 366'. The lantern bell and top are over 850 tons.

St. Paul's

St. Paul's

South Portal

In the pediment of the south portal is an image of a phoenix . The semicircular portico is almost certainly taken from Santa Maria della Pace in Rome.

St. Paul's

St. Paul's

Christopher Wren

"One Sunday night (we had been talking over a morning we had spent in Newgate, and of our hazardous journeys through the Dens and Kitchens of Whitechapel and Limehouse) Dore suddenly suggested a tramp to London Bridge. He had been deeply impressed with the groups of poor women and children we had seen upon the stone seats of the bridge one bright morning on our way to Shadwell. By night, it appeared to his imagination, the scene would have a mournful grandeur. We went. The wayfarers grouped and massed under the moon's light, with the ebon dome of St. Paul's topping the outline of the picture, engrossed him. In the midnight stillness there was a most impressive solemnity upon the whole, which penetrated the nature of the artist.
"And they say London is an ugly place!" was the exclamation.
"We shall see," I answered.
Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - London : A pilgrimage, by Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold, 1872

 

Gustav Dore

St. Paul's

Christopher Wren

The extraordinary richness of the surface decoration found on St. Paul's is unusual in Wren's churches. He was probably influenced by the rich decoration of the Louvre. The carved panels found below the windows, such as this one, were carried out by Grinling Gibbons. There are twenty-six carvings, each different, underneath the round headed windows.


 

St. Paul's

St. Paul's

Christopher Wren

Even the brackets are richly decorated.

 

St. Paul's

St. Paul's


St. Paul's is as close to Baroque as England ever got. Many people think of it as simply Classical, but the undulating roofline, the extensive use of acropodiums, the overlayed pillars, and the use of rococos in the niches are all very Baroque.

Wren was working, not with the lavish resources of the Vatican, but for a Protestant community and a conservative clergy. Resources were tight, as the whole city was being rebuilt, and Wren had no formal training as an architect.

St. Paul's

AR173

Baroque Extra Reading and Films

Books

Gulland, Sandra, Josephine B. Trilogy , New York, Scribner, 1995

by Sandra Gulland

Films

Persuasion - Jane Austin's Novel

Restoration - Robert Downey Junior, Meg Ryan

 

 

 

 

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