Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"San Carlino" by Borromini


The church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and to St. Charles Borromeo.



Francesco Borromini (1599-1667) came to Rome when he was 20 years old to work at St. Peter’s for his architect uncle, Carlo Maderno, and Bernini. Borromini did not get his own architectural commission until he was 35, when the Order of the Holy Trinity asked him to build a monastery and then a church for their property on the Quirinale Hill.



The Order of the Holy Trinity in Rome (Trinitari Scalzi or Barefoot Trinitarians) was a reformed Spanish branch of an order whose founding intention was the ransom of Christians held captive by Moors during the Crusades. As their website says, from the beginning they were “dedicated to the service of redemption and unarmed, with no other weapon beside mercy, and with the only purpose of returning hope to the brothers in the faith who suffer under the yoke of captivity.” Today the order is made up of men and women throughout the world working with refugees and the oppressed, as well as education and pastoral work.


It is difficult for me to put into words a short description of either the interior or the exterior of San Carlo alle Quttro Fontane. I hope these pictures and quotes will allow you to enjoy “San Carlino.”


One of the most subtle and original buildings of the Roman Baroque, and a source of endless pleasure for anyone who enjoys the play of space, light and texture in architecture. A masterpiece by one of Italy’s most unusual designers and a work so skillfully integrated into a given piece of Rome’s monumental townscape. John Wilton-Ely (Art historian, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London, and Royal Society of Arts)



This is a complete work of sculpture masquerading as a building. The contrapuntal rhythm of its curves and the complete inversion of interior and exterior space is breathtaking. The building shows that the distinction among painting, sculpture and architecture disappear in the work of a great artist. Waltar Chatham (Architect, New York City)



3 comments:

Michael C.A. Scarmack said...

Excellent architecture ... twenty years senior the age Borromini began and remain looking to have a similar opportunity for an ecclesiastical architectural commission ..... any patrons out there ? mcas

GraceAnne LadyHawk said...

I have come to this blog via Brooklyn Arden, and have enjoyed it greatly. To see San Carlino, which I studied deeply in college and finally got to see years later (but decades ago now) is a great joy. Thank you for sharing.

Ann said...

Larry, I loved this post...San Carlo is an astonishing work of art. Thank you for bringing me back to it.