Sunday, April 17, 2011

Borromini Legacy

San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini

Borromini was buried in this church, which seemed ironic, given its severe Renaissance interior, far from his own Baroque territory. But he wanted to lie near his kinsman and mentor, Carlo Maderno. At the time there was some doubt about honoring Borromini's request, since his life had ended with the mortal sin of suicide, but (then as now) powerful friends could always find ways around the rules. The memorial tablet above listed the great man's major commissions, virtually all of them in Rome, and made us grateful all over again that we had been able to enjoy almost all of them on this fortunate trip.

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Santi Celso e Giuliano

The church of Saints Celso and Giuliano was completely rebuilt at the very end of the Baroque period a couple of generations after Borromini's death, but his influence was openly acknowledged by the architect, Carlo De Dominicis, who borrowed many elements here from the facade of Borromini's masterpiece, San Carlino. If Borromini looked down on this work from heaven he was probably unhappy about any number of details (with his notoriously difficult character) but surely the spirit of the tribute would have gratified his pride.

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Oratorio dell'Angelo Custode

De Dominicis also borrowed (respectfully, to judge by the result) from Borromini here, when he contributed to the new facade for the Oratorio dell'Angelo Custode (also known as the Oratorio del Ss. Sacramento). Both the Oratorio and the church of Celso e Giuliano attracted my attention in the street before I had any knowledge of their histories – the hand of the master apparently was able to make itself known unassisted.