The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome

The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0060525347

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The rivalry between the brilliant seventeenth-century Italian architects Gianlorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini is the stuff of legend. Enormously talented and ambitious artists, they met as contemporaries in the building yards of St. Peter's in Rome, became the greatest architects of their era by designing some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and ended their lives as bitter enemies. Engrossing and impeccably researched, full of dramatic tension and breathtaking insight, The Genius in the Design is the remarkable tale of how two extraordinary visionaries schemed and maneuvered to get the better of each other and, in the process, created the spectacular Roman cityscape of today.

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overseeing construction, they saved money there as well. Even if the order had hired an overseer for the project, Borromini would still have to be involved, so complex and sophisticated were his plans. Even today it’s difficult to decipher on paper precisely what Borromini envisioned without seeing the finished church firsthand. This is unquestionably Borromini’s church, as personal an expression of the divine as can be found in Rome. Like St. Peter’s, San Carlo is essentially a domed church,

Bernini honestly felt that Borromini was the best man for the post. Whatever the reason, Bernini’s letter secured the papal appointment for Borromini and provided Borromini with the opportunity to create his other great ecclesiastical masterpiece, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. But Sant’Ivo was several years in the future. While Borromini was at San Carlino, Bernini was working on Urban’s tomb. Even before Borromini had left St. Peter’s, Urban had assigned Bernini the task of carving his monument,

Giovanni Battista Mola measured the old church of Sant’Agnese—perhaps as a sign of what the pope had in mind for it. But the ever-cautious Innocent waited several months before resolving to rebuild the church. By February 1652 he had consulted other architects, eventually settling once again on the Rainaldis, the architetti di casa and the preferred architects of his nephew Camillo. It was a mistake he would regret. The team of father and son went to work immediately on the project. They

Giovanni Battista Mola measured the old church of Sant’Agnese—perhaps as a sign of what the pope had in mind for it. But the ever-cautious Innocent waited several months before resolving to rebuild the church. By February 1652 he had consulted other architects, eventually settling once again on the Rainaldis, the architetti di casa and the preferred architects of his nephew Camillo. It was a mistake he would regret. The team of father and son went to work immediately on the project. They

the Tiber, San Giovanni stands near the north end of the Via Giulia, just where the river makes its lugubrious turn south. Begun in 1509 from a design by Jacopo Sansovino (before he left Rome for Venice) and built of traditional flat Roman brick (now gray with age and grime), San Giovanni is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. It sits in a part of Rome that by the nineteenth century had, in Émile Zola’s words, “fallen into the silence, into the emptiness of

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