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November 9, 2009

College, Jesuit Church of Il Gesu (Rome) Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola , Giacomo della Porta essay example

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The church of Il Gesu’, being the first large church built after the Council of Trent, established a type of proto-type for the development of Baroque architecture, especially in churches. For more then two centuries, its architectural design had been reproduced in countless other churches, especially Jesuit ones, all over Europe. Ignatius of Loyola’s new religious order, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) had been approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. By the time of Ignatius’ death in 1556, the Jesuits numbered 1,000 in nine European provinces, and following the pioneer work of Francis Xavier in the Far East, were sending missionaries far and wide. Ignatius transposed his soldierly ideals to the religious sphere, creating a tightly structured, rigorously trained, and deeply committed organisation. The Society became the Pope’s “army” in the Counter Reformation, using as its weapons advanced academic studies, the education of youth, and zealous missionary activities. The Jesuits almost immediately began to argue against Protestant theologians in Church councils, set up excellent schools throughout Europe, and were bringing the Gospels to Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Il Gesu’ is the Jesuit Mother Church. It occupies the site St. Ignatius chose for his headquarters shortly after he founded the Society of Jesus in 1540. That year Pope Paul III Farnese gave the Society a small neighbourhood chapel, Santa Maria della Strada which although conveniently located, soon proved much too small for the expanding order. Ignatius’ dreams for a large and appropriate church-headquarters were not realised in his lifetime. In fact, as early as 1549, the Jesuits had already thought of replacing this church with a new, larger building. Designs for the new church were submitted by Nanni di Baccio Bigio (1550) and Michelangelo (1554). However, by 1548, with the financial help of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the Jesuits managed to acquire the necessary plot of land and began to build the church, as it had been designed by architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola.

A theoretical and practical architect, Giacomo Barozzi was born at Vignola in 1507. He died in 1573. He was the pupil and successor of Michelangelo. His two books, “Regole delle cinque ordini d’Architettura” (1563) and the posthumous “Due regole della prospettiva pratica”, had great influence for centuries. This is partly because he presents with skill the rigid sequence and the beautiful relation of parts in ancient architecture, and partly because his writings present a standard for work easily grasped by amateurs and persons of small ability. These writings place him in the same class with Serlio and Palladio. He built a small palace near Piazza Navona, in strict accordance with his own rules. The lowest story was embellished with Doric columns beneath a vigorous Doric frieze; the middle story with Ionic columns; while above the top story was a cornice with brackets, the whole forming a simple and graceful fade. The most celebrated of his secular buildings was the Farnese castle at Viterbo, which shows the impressions made upon him during a visit to France: the exterior is a pentagonal fortress; within is a fine circular court in the Renaissance style. From 1564, Vignola carried on Michangelo’s work at St. Peter’s and constructed the two subordinate domes according to Michelangelo’s plans, yet with a successful independence. Besides buildings erected at an earlier date at Bologna and Montepulciano, he also worked in Villa Giulio for Pope Julius II, the Church of the Angels at Assisi, and lastly, the Church of Sant’ Andrea at Rome on the Pontemolle road, a square structure with a cupola.

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