Showing posts with label Pietro Bracci. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pietro Bracci. Show all posts

16 June 2018

Pietro Bracci - sculptor

Artist best known for Oceanus statue at Trevi Fountain

Pietro Bracci's statue, Oceanus, is the  centrepiece of the Trevi Fountain in Rome
Pietro Bracci's statue, Oceanus, is the
centrepiece of the Trevi Fountain in Rome
The sculptor Pietro Bracci, who left his mark on the architectural landscape of Rome with the colossal six-metre high statue Oceanus that towers over the Trevi Fountain, was born on this day in 1700 in Rome.

The monumental figure is shown standing on a chariot, in the form of a shell, pulled by two winged horses flanked by two tritons. Bracci worked from sketches by Giovanni Battista Maini, who died before he could execute the project.

He also completed work on the fountain itself, built in front of Luigi Vanvitelli’s Palazzo Poli. This was started by Bracci’s close friend Nicola Salvi, who had been commissioned by Pope Clement XII to realize plans drawn up by Gian Lorenzo Bernini that had been shelved in the previous century. Salvi died in 1751, before he could complete the work. Giuseppe Pannini was also involved for a while before Bracci took over in 1761.

The work confirmed Bracci as a major talent of his time in the field of sculpture, one of the greatest of the late Baroque period, continuing in the tradition established by Bernini in the previous century that gave the city of Rome so many wonderful monuments.

Bracci’s most significant works in addition to the Trevi are considered to be four monumental tombstones, two of which are in St Peter’s Basilica.

The monumental tomb of Maria Clementina Sobieski in St Peter's Basilica
The monumental tomb of Maria Clementina
Sobieski in St Peter's Basilica
The most beautiful, and arguably the one that provides the fullest expression of Bracci’s talent, is the one that commemorates Maria Clementina Sobieski (1742), descendant from the Polish king, who was the wife of the "Old Pretender", James Stuart, one of the Catholic Stuart claimants to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The sculpture is in polychrome with an image of Maria Clementina in mosaic held aloft by Charity.

Bracci also sculpted the figures for the tomb of Benedict XIII (1734) in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, which was designed by the architect Carlo Marchionni, and for the tomb of Benedict XIV (1763–1770) in St Peter’s Basilica, completed with the help of his pupil Gaspare Sibilia, as well as the polychromatic tomb of Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali (1741) in Sant'Agostino in Rome.

The son of a wood sculptor, Bracci was an apprentice in the workshop of the sculptor Camillo Rusconi for six years. He became a member of L’Accademia dell’Arcadia in Rome and of L’Accademia di San Luca and opened his own workshop in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti in 1725.

He married Faustina Mancini, the daughter of the painter Francesco Mancini. They had a son, Virginio, who grew up to be a sculptor and architect, who was heavily involved with the construction of the town of Servigliano in the Marche, and gave much help and advice to the young Antonio Canova.

Bracci died in Rome in Rome in 1773 and was buried in the Pantheon, where his son had commissioned a bust of his father by Vincenzo Pacetti. 

The Trevi Fountain stands in front of the Palazzo Poli. It is  one of Rome's most visited tourist sites.
The Trevi Fountain stands in front of the Palazzo Poli. It is
one of Rome's most visited tourist sites.
Travel tip:

The Trevi Fountain takes its name from its location in the Trevi district of Rome. An earlier fountain on the site was demolished in the 17th century. Nicola Salvi’s design was chosen after entries were invited to a competition. The idea of incorporating the fountain as part of the front of the Palazzo Poli came from a project by Pietro da Cortona, but the central triumphal arch with its mythological and allegorical figures, natural rock formations, and gushing water was Salvi’s idea. The immense fountain stands some 85 ft (26m) high and is approximately 160 ft (49m) wide. Its water, from the ancient aqueduct called Acqua Vergine, was long considered Rome’s softest and best tasting. The water today is not considered fit for drinking. The coins that are thrown into the fountain are collected daily and donated to charity.

The Piazza di Spagna and the Via Condotti seen from the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, above the Spanish Steps
The Piazza di Spagna and the Via Condotti seen from the
Piazza Trinità dei Monti, above the Spanish Steps
Travel tip:

The Piazza Trinità dei Monti, where Bracci opened his first workshop, is a square in central Rome adjoining the Renaissance church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, at the top of the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, better known as the Spanish Steps. During Springtime, just before the anniversary of the foundation of Rome, April 21, part of the steps are covered by pots of azaleas. Recently, the Spanish Steps have included a small cut-flower market. The steps are not a place for eating lunch, being forbidden by Roman urban regulations, but they are usually crowded with people.

More reading:

How Nicola Salvi's designs were chosen for the Trevi Fountain

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - the architect, more than any, who conceived the look of Rome

The consecration of St Peter's Basilica

Also on this day:

1942: The birth of 15-times world motorcycling champion Giacomo Agostini

2008: The death of Mario Rigoni Stern, war hero who became bestselling novelist


8 February 2018

Nicola Salvi – architect

Creator of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain was Nicola Salvi's masterpiece
The Trevi Fountain was Nicola Salvi's masterpiece
The architect Nicola Salvi, famous as the designer of the Fontana di Trevi – known in English as the Trevi Fountain and one of the most famous and most visited monuments in Rome – died on this day in 1751.

He was working on the Trevi when he passed away, having been engaged on the project since 1732. It had to be finished by Giuseppe Pannini and the giant statue of Oceanus – the Titan God of the Sea in Greek mythology – set in the central niche, was completed by Pietro Bracci, yet Salvi takes credit as the lead architect.

Salvi ran a workshop in Rome that he had taken over when his master, Antonio Canevari, left the city in 1727 to take up a position working as architectural consultant to the king of Portugal in Lisbon.

He completed a number of commissions on behalf of Canevari but spent a good deal of his time tutoring others and might have made very little impression on architectural history had he not submitted entries for two design competitions run by Pope Clement XII in 1732.

One was for a new façade for the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, for which his design was commended and in which he did have some input along with Alessandro Galilei – the winner – and Luigi Vanvitelli.

Floodlights illuminate the fountain at night
Floodlights illuminate the fountain at night
The other was to revive a project started and then abandoned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini one hundred years earlier to design a new fountain at the end of the former Aqua Virgo Roman aqueduct, in front of the Palazzo Poli.

Accounts of the outcome vary, but there is agreement that Salvi’s design did not win, with plans submitted by either Galilei or Ferdinando Fuga preferred. However, both of those architects were from Florence and there was a public view that the job should go to a Roman and, after considering this, the pope decided to give it to Salvi.

Salvi imagined a fountain composed of a large central basin, surrounded by a rough-hewn cliff from which the Palazzo Poli appears almost to have been carved, the whole composition dominated by the statue of Oceanus, set into the central arched niche of the palace, standing directly above the point at which the water emerges.

The monumental façade of the Palazzo Poli was designed by Vanvitelli to provide the fountain with a suitably dramatic backdrop.

The end product, which takes its names from its location at the convergence of tre vie – three roads, represented a classic of Roman Baroque, the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most significant building built in Rome in the 18th century.

The Via Nicola Salvi in Rome skirts the Colosseum
The Via Nicola Salvi in Rome skirts the Colosseum
It defined the career of Salvi, who had been born in Rome in 1697 to a wealthy family thought to have been from Abruzzo originally. Precociously intelligent, he studied mathematics and philosophy before turning to architecture.

Until the Trevi, after a decline in the number of major structures commissioned across the city compared with the previous century, Salvi’s work had been relatively inconsequential, consisting for the most part of small, decorative projects.

He did build a baptistery at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls but that was destroyed in a fire of 1823, while his reconstructed Chiesa di Santa Maria a Gradi in Viterbo was flattened by bombing during the Second World War.

Salvi died at his home in Via della Colonna in Rome at the age of 53, having developed bronchial problems as a result of many hours spent working in the damp tunnels of the aqueduct.

Large crowds flock to the Trevi at all hours of the day
Large crowds flock to the Trevi at all hours of the day
Travel tip:

The ritual of throwing coins over their shoulders into the Trevi Fountain is followed by thousands of visitors each day.  They used to be stolen regularly by gangs of thieves but a law was introduced making it a crime to fish coins out of the basin. Nowadays, the coins are collected by teams of municipal workers every night and given to a charity called Caritas, which converts the money into shopping vouchers for Romans who have fallen on hard times. The coins collected add up to around €3,000 each day.

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita
Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita
Travel tip:

Part of the Trevi Fountain’s fame around the world is down to the starring role it has played in a number of movies, most notably Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, in which Anita Ekberg jumped into the fountain fully clothed, to be followed by Marcello Mastroianni. The monument also featured in Roman Holiday, Three Coins in the Fountain and Disney comedy The Lizzie McGuire Movie. When the revered Mastroianni died in 1996, the fountain was turned off and draped in black crepe as the city’s tribute.