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Artists - ArtWorks

Name of the Artist / Artwork:

Francesco Borromini

Country: Italy
Century: 1600 - The 17th Century
Art Period:

Baroc Art and Architecture in Italy

Synthetic Chronology:

Francesco Borromini, byname of Francesco Castelli (b. Bissone, Ticino, September 25, 1599; Rome, August 3, 1667
Son of the stone mason Giovanni Domenico Castelli and Anastasia Garovo, Borromini began his career as a stone mason himself, and soon moved to Milan to study and practice this activity. He was also called "Bissone", by the place in which he was born (near Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland). When in Rome (1619) he changed his name (from Castelli to Borromini) and started working for Carlo Maderno, his distant relative, at St. Peter's. When Maderno died in 1629, he joined the group under Gian Lorenzo Bernini, completing the facade and expansions of Maderno's Palazzo Barberini.
Francesco Borromini was born in Bissone, Lugano in 1599. He learned stone cutting from his father, Giovanni Domenico Castelli. While still a child, he moved to Milan to continue studying stone cutting. In 1619 he moved to Rome where he worked as a craftsman on St. Peters. At this time, he changed his name from Castelli to Borromini.
Initially Borromini worked as a stone mason under Carlo Maderno, the official architect to St. Peter's. By 1620 he was drafting and designing. When Maderno died in 1629, Borromini joined the workshop of Bernini. Under Bernini he gained more experience as a draftsman and designer. In 1634 he began work as an independent architect with his reconstruction of the monastery and church of St. Carlo Borromeo.
Borromini's architecture "springs from the contrast between convention and freedom." Borromini used tradition as a basis for design but did not view it as an ultimate, unalterable law.
Borromini died in Rome in 1667.

National Comparative:

Carracci. Family of Bolognese painters, the brothers Agostino (1557-1602) and Annibale (1560-1609) and their cousin Ludovico (1555-1619), who were prominent figures at the end of the 16th century in the movement against the prevailing Mannerist artificiality of Italian painting.
They worked together early in their careers, and it is not easy to distinguish their shares in, for example, the cycle of frescos in the Palazzo Fava in Bologna (c.1583-84). In the early 1580s they opened a private teaching academy, which soon became a center for progressive art. It was originally called the Accademia dei Desiderosi (`Desiderosi' meaning `desirous of fame and learning'), but later changed its name to Academia degli Incamminati (Academy of the Progressives). In their teaching they laid special emphasis on drawing from the life (all three were outstanding graphic artists) and clear draughtsmanship became a quality particularly associated with artists of the Bolognese School, notably Domenichino and Reni, two of the leading members of the following generation who trained with the Carracci.
They continued working in close relationship until 1595, when Annibale, who was by far the greatest artist of the family, was called to Rome by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese to carry out his masterpiece, the decoration of the Farnese Gallery in the cardinal's family palace. He first decorated a small room called the Camerino with stories of Hercules, and in 1597 undertook the ceiling of the larger gallery, where the theme was The Loves of the Gods, or, as Bellori described it, `human love governed by Celestial love'. Although the ceiling is rich in the interplay of various illusionistic elements, it retains fundamentally the self-contained and unambiguous character of High Renaissance decoration, drawing inspiration from Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling and Raphael's frescos in the Vatican Loggie and the Farnesina. The full untrammelled stream of Baroque illusionism was still to come in the work of Cortona and Lanfranco, but Annibale's decoration was one of the foundations of their style. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Farnese Ceiling was ranked alongside the Sistine Ceiling and Raphael's frescos in the Vatican Stanze as one of the supreme masterpieces of painting. It was enormously influential, not only as a pattern book of heroic figure design, but also as a model of technical procedure; Annibale made hundreds of drawings for the ceiling, and until the age of of Romanticism such elaborate preparatory work became accepted as a fundamental part of composing any ambitious history painting. In this sense, Annibale exercised a more profound influence than his great contemporary Caravaggio, for the latter never worked in fresco, which was still regarded as the greatest test of a painter's ability and the most suitable vehicle for painting in the Grand Manner.

GIOVANNI LORENZO BERNINI was, in the assessment of Janson (History of Art, p. 410), the greatest sculptor-architect of the 17th century. He began his career as a student of his father Pietro Bernini (1582-1629), a sculptor who had himself worked at one time with Camillo Mariani.
Later he attracted the patronage of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, for whom he designed a palace. When Barberini was subsequently installed as Pope Urban VIII, 1623, Bernini was put in charge of building operations at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, where one of his early works, 1624-33, was the canopy [baldachin] over the high altar. He also created, 1657-66, the soaring marble, gilded bronze and stucco Chair of St. Peter [Cathedra Petri] for the Basilica.
Bernini's baroque style was a powerful influence on the architecture of his period. His most famous architectural works are the symmetrical curved colonnades of St. Peter's, the facade of Barberini's palace, and the arsenal at Civita Vecchia. Late in his career Bernini designed a series of three churches, culminating in the domed Sant' Andrea al Quirinale, 1658-70, in Rome.
In sculpture, Bernini's masterwork is the Cornaro Chapel at the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria in Rome, commissioned by Cardinal Patriarch Federico Cornaro (G-17). The centerpiece is The Ecstasy of S. Teresa of Avila, a large statue designed to be illuminated by reflected light from a hidden window. The figures of S. Teresa and an angel are seen upon a stage, witnessed by seven Cardinals and a Doge of the Cornaro family looking on from flanking balconies. The Fountain of the Four Rivers, 1648-51, in Piazza Navona is another of his celebrated sculptural groups.
Rome and Southern Italy
The ambitious projects of urban renewal, development, and expansion initiated in Rome in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries reach a spectacular apex during this period. An affluent and powerful papacy sponsors many of these projects with the aim of fashioning the city into a world capital of great beauty, a hub of learning and the arts, and, above all, a symbol of Catholic glory. Artists from elsewhere in Europe, particularly the North, visit Rome to study the masterpieces of antiquity and the Renaissance and to execute commissions for the popes and a wealthy secular clientele. It is here that the Baroque style takes form, shaped especially by the hands of several great masters: Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), Francesco Borromini (1599–1667), and Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669). Monuments of the Baroque join architecture, painting, and sculpture into a unified whole of extraordinary grandeur.
Possession of territories in Southern Italy is, as in the last period, widely contested by various foreign powers. Many artists from the Iberian Peninsula are drawn to this region, particularly to Naples, a city under Spanish rule. A school of painting flourishes there, profoundly influenced by Caravaggio (1571–1610). Notable examples of Baroque architecture occur throughout Southern Italy, particularly in the Sicilian cities of Noto, Ragusa, and Modica, rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693. Southern Italy is also an important center of porcelain production.
1600 The Calling of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) are unveiled in the Contarelli Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome. They comprise Caravaggio's first public commission, and their success—hinged upon the master's revolutionary approach to painting—comes with fame that will extend beyond the last decade of Caravaggio's life and influence a generation of painters, both Northern and Southern, through the first half of the century. Caravaggio defies the conventions of contemporary painting, choosing to paint directly from live posed models and using the technique of a focused light source against a dark or abstracted background to effect an intense physical realism and psychological depth. His influence is also strongly felt in Naples, where he spends some of his last years.
• 1600–1620 Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639), a painter of Pisan birth, is active in Rome. Here Orazio is influenced by his younger contemporary and close acquaintance Caravaggio; his works display a progressively heightened realism, which he combines with a poetic mastery of detail and description of surface textures. In addition to producing altarpieces and easel paintings, Orazio works as a decorative painter, collaborating with Agostino Tassi (ca. 1580–1644) on an elaborate musical concert scene for the Casino delle Muse (1611–12) of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In the early 1610s, while Orazio is producing his finest Caravaggesque pictures, his daughter and pupil Artemisia (1593–1651/53) produces her own earliest known works. Artemisia's gift for rendering dramatic, even violent narrative is evident from this time and culminates in her greatest mature works, including Judith and Her Maidservant of ca. 1625–27 (Detroit Institute of Arts). Artemisia relocates to Florence following her marriage in 1612, later returning to Rome and traveling to Venice, Genoa, London, and Naples, where she finally settles and spends her last years. Artemisia is one of a handful of Italian women artists to win great international acclaim during her lifetime and numbers among her patrons Cosimo II de' Medici, Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Francesco d'Este I, and Charles I of England.
• 1601 Annibale Carracci (1560–1609) completes the Galleria ceiling of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The theme of the fresco program—widely considered his masterpiece—is the triumph of love, which Annibale depicts in a series of exuberant mythological scenes framed by illusionistic grisaille architectural motifs. From his early years in Bologna, Annibale advocates the reform of painting and a departure from the Mannerist style, fusing in his works elements of a heightened naturalism with idealizing classicism.
• 1602 Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) is in Rome, where he paints three large-format pictures for the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme: Saint Helena Discovering the True Cross, The Mocking of Christ (both now Grasse Cathedral), and The Raising of the Cross (destroyed). During his stay, he studies masterpieces of antiquity and the Renaissance, as well as works by contemporary masters. His virtuosic technique combines with a thorough understanding of the Italian artistic tradition that allows him to rival even the greatest Italian painters of the period. In his professional capacities as diplomat and emissary, Rubens maintains a close contact between North and South, fully absorbing the Baroque style as it develops at its source in Rome, and significantly contributing to its dissemination throughout Europe.
• 1613 Guido Reni (1575–1642), a student of the Carracci and the preeminent Bolognese painter of his time, paints the ceiling fresco Aurora for the Casino Rospigliosi in Rome. Reni works in a classicizing style, imbuing his figures with ideal beauty and grace.
• 1616 Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652) arrives in Naples, a city under Spanish Habsburg rule where the realism and emotional immediacy of Caravaggism prevails. Ribera's stylistic development is strongly influenced by this legacy, the effects of which can be found in his numerous commissions in Naples, particularly at the monastery of Certosa di San Martino. Ribera's lyrical naturalism has its own legacy, as a generation of Neapolitan painters—including Luca Giordano (1632–1705) and Salvator Rosa (1615–1673)—display a heightened sensitivity to color, light, and other compositional elements that give new life and energy to Neapolitan painting.
• 1622–24 Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) produces the sculptural group Apollo and Daphne (Galleria Borghese, Rome), depicting the moment at which Daphne, pursued by the god Apollo, transforms into a laurel tree. With technical brilliance manifest from the first decade of his professional life, Bernini brings to his sculptures emotional immediacy and realism akin to that which Caravaggio brings to canvas. The effect, as in Apollo and Daphne, is that the viewer witnesses a scene of great drama as it transpires. From the election of his friend Cardinal Maffeo Barberini as Pope Urban VIII (r. 1623–44), Bernini maintains a tie with the papacy that is crucial not only to his own success, but to the artistic climate of Rome. Urban and his later successors look to Bernini as a peerless artistic authority and charge him with commissions for sculpture, architecture, and painting. Following the completion of the facade of Saint Peter's and its consecration in 1626, Bernini is placed in charge of its interior adornment with various sculptural groups extolling the papacy. The most outstanding of these projects is the production of a great canopy, or baldacchino, to mark the grave and high altar of Saint Peter, which he executes with a team of artists, including Francesco Borromini.
• 1624 Flemish master Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) is in Palermo during a severe outbreak of plague. In July of this year, the supposed relics of Saint Rosalie, the city's patroness, are discovered in a grotto on Mount Pellegrino. The cult of Saint Rosalie gathers fervent momentum as devotees pray for her divine intervention. Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-Stricken of Palermo (71.41) is one of several depictions of the saint painted by van Dyck during his stay.
• from 1624 French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) is active in Rome, in the circle of Cassiano dal Pozzo, an influential archaeologist, philosopher, and naturalist in the employ of the Barberini. Poussin's work stands out against the backdrop of the prevailing Baroque as the artist chooses a more individualistic path, lending a particular style, tone, and mood to each composition as the subject demands. Poussin exerts a profound influence on artists of his adopted city and also sets the tone for classicizing artists in his native France.
• second quarter of 17th century Andrea Sacchi (1599–1661) is one of the leading painters active in Rome. He advocates a restrained classicism that opposes the style of Pietro da Cortona, with whom he engages in a famous public debate in 1636 over the virtues of including few or many figures in a composition. Sacchi argues that paintings with fewer figures are preferable, a viewpoint reflected in his own oeuvre (for example, Marcantonio Pasqualini Crowned by Apollo, 1981.317)
• 1627 French painter Claude Gellée (1604/5?–1682), called Claude Lorrain, settles in Rome; he is to become, over the course of his long career, the greatest landscapist of his time. In the early seventeenth century, landscape painting flourishes in Rome, propagated mostly by Northern artists such as Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1598–1657) and Paul Bril (1553/54–1626). Claude's particular gift is the use of light to bring depth and unity to his pictures, as well as enhance their pastoral mood. By the mid-1630s, his idyllic landscapes and harbor scenes are so popular that forgeries abound. To safeguard against this, Claude makes a drawing after each of his compositions, entered with the details of its patron and geographical destination in a book he calls the Liber veritatis; he continues this practice until his death.
• 1628–38 The Barberini, an ecclesiastic family of enormous wealth, construct a palace in Rome. They are led by Urban VIII, the first family member to achieve prominence, who establishes a reputation for great learning and cultural savvy rather than for religious piety. Urban gathers at his splendid court the most illustrious masters active in Rome, including Carlo Maderno (1555/6–1629), the architect of the Palazzo Barberini until his death, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Francesco Borromini, and Pietro da Cortona.
• 1629–31 The great Spanish painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660) makes his first of two trips to Italy (the second in 1649–51), visiting Venice and other northern cities, Rome, and Naples. In Rome, he paints The Forge of Vulcan (Museo del Prado, Madrid) and Joseph's Coat Presented to Jacob (Escorial, Madrid). These compositions illustrate the artist's inspiration from classical antiquity in his handling of the nude form, as well as the mastery of perspective he achieves in this city.
• 1629–39 Francesco Mochi (1580–1654) carves the monumental Saint Veronica for a niche in the crossing at Saint Peter's. The saint's agitation is conveyed through posture, the gesture of her outstretched hands, and the wildly spiraling drapery of her garment and that of the sudarium that bears the image of Christ. In its portrayal of anguish, this work calls more upon the ancient world and the tragic heroes of Hellenistic sculpture than upon the languorous theatricality of contemporary sculpture. It is coolly received, as the city of Rome is at this time in the thrall of Bernini.
• 1632–39 Urban VIII commissions Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669) to fresco the vault of the Gran Salone of the Palazzo Barberini. On a single surface, Cortona paints an illusionistic architectural frame that divides the plane into five sections; the unity of the fresco is retained, however, as figures from the scenes depicted in each of the sections reach, extend, and drift, unbounded. The feigned architecture is that of a ceilingless room, open to the heavens, at the center of which attributes of the Barberini represent the main subject of the fresco, Allegory of Divine Providence. This extraordinary work sets a precedent for later examples, including Andrea Pozzo's fresco at Sant'Ignazio.
• 1635 Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) travels from his native Naples to Rome, where he quickly establishes a reputation as a vivacious and learned if controversial figure. Though his fame rests chiefly upon his paintings, Rosa is also a graphic artist, poet, and actor whose many talents and fiery personality bring him to the center of Roman cultural life. His most successful works are freely painted, tempestuous landscapes; other works, including history scenes and allegories, are often informed by philosophical ideas.
• 1647 During a brief period of papal disfavor, Bernini's services are secured by Cardinal Federigo Cornaro for the decoration of his family chapel in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The result is perhaps the greatest sculptural work of the seventeenth century. Bernini depicts The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa as a climactic theatrical event: the recumbent figure of the swooning saint and that of the angel who pierces her heart with an arrow of divine love are set at the center of an altar, around which figures representing members of the Cornaro family look on from choir stalls. Bernini's seamless union of sculpture, architecture, painting, manipulation of light, and staging techniques make him the foremost influence on the Roman Baroque style. In the same year, Bernini submits a design to Innocent X (r. 1644–55) for a fountain to occupy the center of the Piazza Navona. His design is chosen and, restored to papal favor, he executes the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
• 1656 Bernini undertakes his greatest architectural work: the construction of the Piazza San Pietro and the sweeping colonnade framing Saint Peter's (completed 1667).
• 1656–59 Pietro da Cortona designs a facade for the fifteenth-century Church of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome, and replans its surrounding piazza. The facade recalls classical Roman architecture but effects a contemporary dynamism and theatrical presence in its projecting semicircular portico.
• 1664 Author and antiquarian Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613–1696) delivers a lecture on L'idea del pittore, dello scultore e dell'architetto at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, where the painter, draftsman, and graphic artist Carlo Maratti (1625–1713) is principal. In his lecture, Bellori expounds upon a classicist art theory; Maratti exemplifies this theory, as he asserts the importance of studying antique sculpture, life drawing, and the depiction only of that in nature which is beautiful. His great masterworks, including The Triumph of Clemency, commissioned in 1674 by Clement X for the Palazzo Altieri, effect a dignified compositional clarity that is a major forerunner of Neoclassicism.
• 1665 Francesco Borromini (1599–1667) designs a facade for the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. In contrast to the structures of his great contemporary and rival Bernini—the grandeur of which is achieved by simple, unified forms on a large scale—Borromini's architecture is complex, with a plastic, sculptural quality. Borromini's other major projects include the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone and the adjoining palace of Innocent X at the Piazza Navona. He also designs the Church of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza (1642–60s) and remodels the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano (1644–48).
• 1666 A branch of the French Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (founded Paris, 1648) is established in Rome. Eight years later, the first Prix de Rome awards a period of study in Rome to France's most promising painters, architects, and sculptors. This highlights the emphasis made by leaders of the contemporary French art world upon a firm grounding in the classical tradition.
• 1670 The Voyage of Italy, a guidebook by British scholar Richard Lassels (1603–1668), is published posthumously. In it, Lassels asserts the necessity of a "Grand Tour" through France and Italy to a truly serious student of classical antiquity, art, and architecture. He is the first to use this enduring term for a practice that begins in the middle years of the seventeenth century and peaks in the last years of the eighteenth. Undertaken by well-born, educated men, the journey (usually completed over several years) is intended to acquaint the traveler with the language and culture, politics and history of other regions, while presenting opportunities for the study and collection of antiquities and art objects.
• late 17th century Luca Giordano (1632–1705) is the leading painter in Naples. He departs from the darkly realistic Caravaggesque style prevalent in Southern Italy in favor of a bright palette and light-filled compositions influenced by Venetian masters of the sixteenth century (for example, The Annunciation, 1973.311.2).
• 1672 Giovanni Battista Gaulli (1639–1709), usually known as Il Baciccio, wins a commission to fresco the dome, the pendentives, and the nave and transept vaults of the Jesuit church of Il Gesù in Rome. In these frescoes, the most outstanding of which is The Triumph of the Name of Jesus (1676–79), Gaulli employs a saturated palette that recalls his Bolognese origins. The energetic drama of Gaulli's frescoes, their bold luminosity, and their unity with surrounding architectural and sculptural elements mark a high point in Roman Baroque art.
• 1676 In the Dichiaratione della Galleria armonica, an informative catalogue of the contents of his museum, the Galleria Armonica e Matematica, musical instrument maker and inventor Michele Todini (1616–1690) describes an instrument called "La Macchina di Polifemo e Galatea" (89.4.2929). The harpsichord is a triumph of engineering, and its lavish design and intricate carving set it apart as a supreme example of Baroque woodwork.
• 1681 Padre Giovanni Paolo Oliva, general of the Jesuit order, summons one of his lay brothers, Andrea Pozzo (1642–1709), to Rome. A painter, architect, stage designer, and theorist of northern Italian birth, Pozzo achieves through his rounded talents the artistic unity of many media prized in the Baroque period. During nearly two decades of activity in Rome, his numerous commissions include the design of magnificent architectural sets and painted trompe-l'oeil backdrops for religious plays, pageants, and festivals; his crowning achievement in painting, however, is the fresco work at the Church of Sant'Ignazio (1688–94). The Glory of Saint Ignatius in the nave vault is a masterpiece of quadratura, a type of illusionism in which painting or sculpture seems to extend the three-dimensional space occupied by the viewer. In this fresco, Pozzo paints a steeply foreshortened architectural framework that continues the architecture of the vault and stretches it heavenward, through which angels, putti, and the exalted figure of Saint Ignatius rise. The effect is that of a mingling of divine and earthly space. In 1695, Pozzo wins another celebrated commission: the design of an altar of Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, for Il Gesù. Work proceeds (1695–99) with Pozzo as artistic director, and the result is a statue of Saint Ignatius flanked by two sculptural groups—Faith Crushing Idolatry, executed by Jean-Baptiste Théodon, and Religion Triumphant over Heresy by Pierre Legros the Younger.

By the turn of the seventeenth century, the concentration of artistic innovation once held by Florence shifts to Rome, where the dynamic Baroque style emerges and gains widespread influence. Before exponents of the Baroque reach Central Italy, artists of Tuscany, Umbria, and the Marches respond to—and in many cases reject—the sixteenth-century Mannerist style, returning instead to the classical ideals of earlier Renaissance masters. Meanwhile, the ruling Medici family draws to its Florentine court, still renowned for its magnificence, influential artists from Northern Italy, Rome, and Northern Europe, who promote the spread of Baroque, Rococo, and, later, Neoclassical styles in Central Italy. By the eighteenth century, however, the Medici slip from power, and at the extinction of their line in 1737, rule of the region passes to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.
early 17th century A generation of Florentine painters follows in the footsteps of Santi di Tito (1536–1602/3), the great master of the later sixteenth century who rejected the stylized elegance of Mannerism in favor of greater naturalism and narrative clarity. Foremost among these artists are Jacopo da Empoli (1551–1640)—distinguished as a painter of both altarpieces and still lifes—and Domenico Passignano (1559–1638), whose exposure to Venetian painting during several years in that city contributes a richness of palette and softened modeling to works otherwise informed by the Florentine tradition. The greatest Florentine master of this generation, however, is Ludovico Cardi, known as Cigoli (1559–1613). A student first of the architect and designer Bernardo Buontalenti (ca. 1531–1608) and later of Santi di Tito, Cigoli is also deeply influenced by Renaissance masters such as Tintoretto and Correggio. He is active in Florence in the 1590s and returns in his late years. A skilled architect and designer, Cigoli's building projects in Florence include the Loggia Tornaquinci, the Doni and Usimbardi chapels in Santa Trinità, and the Guicciardini Chapel in Santa Felicità.
• early 17th century Opera emerges as a new theatrical form. Cultivated by a group of Florentine poets, scholars, and musicians known as the camerata, opera is the supreme exemplification of the Baroque ideal of unity among arts, necessitating the collaboration of poets and writers, composers, musicians, painters, and architects.
• 17th century The illusionistic hardstone mosaic technique known as pietra dura enjoys great popularity. Established in the late sixteenth century, workshops in the Uffizi, Florence, specialize in the production of objects decorated in this manner.
• 1606 Antonio Tempesta (1555–1630), an artist of Florentine birth, creates 150 etched illustrations for the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The series is one of several that Tempesta produces between the last decade of the sixteenth century and the end of his life. His oeuvre, including over a thousand prints, is characterized by the strong influence of Netherlandish masters encountered during the artist's stay in Rome.
• 1608 Pietro Tacca (1577–1640) takes over the workshop of the sculptor Giambologna (ca. 1529–1608). In the following year, he assumes his late master's post at the Medici court as official sculptor to the grand dukes. The workshop is prolific in its output of bronzes—Tacca's preferred medium—for patrons in Italy and abroad. He excels in portraiture (which serves as propaganda for his ducal patrons), achieving great textural naturalism of the sculpted surface. Tacca's monumental commissions for the city of Florence include two fountains with ornamental grotesques for the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, cast by 1633 and installed in 1640. Pietro is succeeded at court by his son Ferdinando (1619–1686). Although a successful sculptor in bronze, Ferdinando also achieves renown as a theatrical designer, creating elaborate sets and stage machinery for festivities and productions financed by the Medici.
• 1610 Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) enters the service of Cosimo II de' Medici in Florence as court philosopher and mathematician. At this time, he also resumes a post at the University of Pisa, where he first taught from 1589 to 1592 and conducted early experiments in physics. After his 1633 trial by the Inquisition in Rome for upholding the Copernican theory of planetary motion, Galileo is forced to reside in Siena; he is later permitted to move to Arcetri, near Florence, where he remains for the rest of his life.
• ca. 1615 Cristofano Allori (1577–1621), grandson of the great Renaissance master Bronzino, paints Judith with the Head of Holofernes (version, Palazzo Pitti, Florence), his most celebrated work. Believed to depict his mistress La Mazzafirra as Judith and her mother as the serving-woman Abra—with the head of Holofernes possibly a self-portrait—the picture demonstrates Allori's lyrical style and literary approach to painting. In addition to his success as a painter, Allori is known as a courtier, poet, and musician.
• ca. 1620 Flemish painter Justus Sustermans (called Giusto Suttermans, 1597–1681) is court painter to the Medici, remaining in their service until his death. During his lifetime, Suttermans is celebrated as the finest portraitist in Italy.
• 1627 Florentine etcher Stefano della Bella (1610–1664) dedicates an early print, the Banquet of the Piacevoli, to Prince Giovanni Carlo de' Medici. This wins the artist a stipend with which he travels to Rome in 1633, remaining there (with occasional visits to Florence) for six years. Della Bella's many drawings of this period illustrate his lively and naturalistic approach to a wide range of subjects: public events and festivities, urban views and landscapes, architecture and ancient ruins. He resides in Paris from 1639 to 1650, returning to Florence in the 1650s to work once again at the Medici court. In their inventiveness and freedom of expression, his prints—over a thousand of which are known—and countless drawings influence Italian as well as French artists.
• ca. 1632 The precociously gifted young Florentine painter Carlo Dolci (1616–1687) paints a bust-length portrait of Ainolfo de' Bardi (Palazzo Pitti, Florence). Meticulously finished and showing a keen appreciation for Northern painting, the portrait is among the best examples of the refined and masterfully detailed portraits for which the master would be known throughout his career. Dolci also produces emotionally charged religious subjects, portrait miniatures, and drawings of exceptional merit.
• 1637 Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669), by this time famous for his work in Rome, executes two frescoes, the Golden Age and Silver Age, in the Salla della Stufa of Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Pleased with the masterly works, Ferdinando II de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, invites Pietro to return and finish the cycle. He does this in 1641, adding the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Intended to represent the four ages of man, this decorative program also symbolizes the long and illustrious Medici lineage. This decorative program is further developed in Pietro's next project, a series of ceiling frescoes for the grand-ducal apartments. Depicting astrological deities such as Jupiter, Mars, and Venus, the paintings—framed with one exception by elaborate stuccowork—allude in many details to the Medici as ideal rulers. Pietro works on the frescoes over several years, interrupted by other commissions; he leaves Florence in 1647, with work still incomplete. His finest pupil, Ciro Ferri (1634–1689), completes the cycle in the 1660s.
• ca. 1643 Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670), an accomplished painter of still lifes, is at work in Florence at the Medici court. Her compositions of botanical subjects, fruits, and vegetables are rendered with meticulous attention to detail and are sought after by influential patrons throughout Italy, including Charles Emanuel II, duke of Savoy, in Turin, and Cassiano dal Pozzo and Anna Colonna in Rome.
• 1659 The Medici family sell their palace on the Via Larga to the Ricciardi, who enlarge it over the next decades. The splendid structure, begun in 1444 by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo (1396–1472) was once emblematic of the enormous wealth and power wielded by the Medici in Florence and throughout Italy; its sale is emblematic of the family's financial and political decline.
• 1670–1723 During his reign as grand duke, Cosimo III de' Medici vigorously undertakes the preservation of his family's reputation for the distinguished patronage that once made their court the envy of Europe. To this end, he employs several illustrious scholars—including the biographer of artists, Filippo Baldinucci—travels widely, and is an avid collector of books and paintings, particularly Northern works.
• 1682 Luca Giordano (1632–1705), a celebrated Neapolitan painter, is commissioned to fresco the cupola of the Corsini Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, promoting in its great success the Baroque style in Florence. In the following year, Giordano begins an allegorical fresco program (completed 1686) for the Palazzo Medici-Ricciardi.
• 1686 At the death of Ferdinando Tacca, Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725) is named court sculptor to the Medici. His dramatic late Baroque style, for which he is considered one of the finest Florentine sculptors of the period, owes much to three years of study in Rome (1673–76), where he is greatly influenced by Bernini and his followers. Foggini executes a number of portrait busts for the Medici, as well as furniture and decorative objects for the ducal household. His religious works include scenes from the life of Saint Andrea Corsini (finished 1691; Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence). Foggini is appointed official architect to the Medici in 1694.
Northern Italy remains a flourishing artistic center during this period, even as its political and economic stature gradually declines over the course of two centuries. Venice is still a cultural capital of Europe, home to great masters of painting such as Tiepolo and Canaletto and the architect Longhena; it also cultivates a thriving new theatrical form—the opera—and an educational and touristic phenomenon known as the Grand Tour. Meanwhile, Genoa gives rise to a notable school of painting, Turin becomes an important architectural center, and the celebrated Academy in Bologna founded by the Carracci continues to train artists in a classical tradition. In addition, many foreign artists are attracted to Northern Italy for the wealth of commissions its prosperous aristocratic families affords. By the end of the period, Venice—once the region's supreme power and a giant in European commerce—loses almost entirely its foothold in the Mediterranean and falls, with much of the area, as spoils of the French Revolutionary wars.
early 17th century The seaport of Genoa flourishes as a center of mercantilism and artistic production. Foreign artists, including the great Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640; active in Italy 1600–1608) and Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641; active in Italy 1621–27), are drawn into the orbit of aristocratic families such as the Doria, Grimaldi, and Spinola. At the same time, a local school of painting emerges, with Bernardo Strozzi (1581–1644) as one of its chief exponents.
• 1607 Federico Borromeo (1564–1631) founds the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, following it in 1613 with the Accademia del Disegno (an art academy, no longer extant) and, in 1618, a museum: the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. As archibishop of Milan from 1595 and overseer of ecclesiastical art in the city, Borromeo founds the Ambrosiana with the aim of edifying the faithful through painting and sculpture. The Pinacoteca's educational and inspirational goals are shaped largely by Counter-Reformation thought and by the demands for directness and clarity of images made by the Council of Trent. For display in the Pinacoteca, Borromeo chooses religious works by Luini, Correggio, and Titian, among others; he also selects landscapes by Flemish artists, valued not only for the virtuosity of their execution, but for the awe they inspire in the natural world.
• 1607 Orfeo, the first opera by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), is performed in Mantua, where he resides at the ducal court of Vincenzo Gonzaga I (r. 1587–1612). By this time, Monteverdi is already famous throughout Italy for his ability to write music that is both dramatic and expressive of word and text. Following the death of the duke, Monteverdi moves to Venice, where he assumes the post of maestro di cappella at the Basilica of San Marco and remains until his death. Venice is at this time one of the greatest musical centers in Europe.
• 1609 While professor of mathematics at the University of Padua, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) constructs the first complete astronomical telescope. With it he observes the Milky Way, the moon's surface, sunspots, and planets, and in 1610—the same year in which he leaves Padua for the court of Cosimo II de' Medici in Florence—he discovers four satellites of Jupiter. His studies confirm the Copernican theory of planetary motion, according to which the sun is the fixed center of the universe. In 1633, Galileo will be summoned to the Inquisition in Rome and sentenced for his support of the theory, strongly opposed by Church doctrine.
• 1614–22 Domenico Fetti (1588/89–1623) leaves his native Rome for the ducal court at Mantua. There, in the service of Ferdinando Gonzaga (earlier Fetti's patron while a cardinal in Rome), he earns great success painting religious subjects and monumental pictorial cycles. His last and perhaps best-known commission, however, is for a series of small-scale works depicting the Parables (ca. 1618–22), most existing in a number of versions that were reproduced in Fetti's workshop. Fetti handles the parables in the manner of genre subjects with the freeness and expressivity characteristic of his oeuvre; he is undoubtedly influenced in many ways by the Flemish painter Rubens, resident at the Gonzaga court in the preceding decade.
• late 1610s Guido Reni (1575–1642) paints Samson Victorious (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale) for installation above a fireplace in the Palazzo Zambeccari in Bologna. Having slain his Philistine enemies with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15), Samson drinks of a miraculous flow of water from the jawbone. The magnificent and solitary towering figure of Samson recalls classical heroic ideals, and the refinement of form and subtlety of palette with which Reni portrays his subject set this master's work apart from that of his Bolognese contemporaries, and makes clear why he is the preeminent Bolognese painter.
• 1618–19 Giovanni Battista Aleotti (1546–1636) builds the Teatro Farnese in Parma. A Ferrarese architect best known for theatrical design, Aleotti fully exploits the capabilities of a frame—or proscenium—around the stage to conceal in scenery the machinery used to fly and to produce other special effects. The proscenium also creates a boundary between performers and audience that allows for experimentation with perspective and contributes to the overall illusionism central to Baroque theater. The Teatro Farnese's rectangular proscenium and elongated, U-shaped auditorium anticipates modern theater design.
• early 1620s Morazzone (1573–1625/26), Giulio Cesare Procaccini (1574–1625), and Giovanni Battista Crespi, called Cerano (1575–1632) collaborate on a canvas of the Martyrdom of Saints Rufina and Secunda (now Milan, Brera). Lauded as il quadro delle tre mani ("a painting by three hands"), this work brings together three of the greatest Lombard painters of the seventeenth century.
• 1622 During a period of activity in Genoa, Roman painter Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639) attempts to earn a position at the court of Carlo Emanuele I, duke of Savoy in Turin. He sends the duke a canvas of Lot and His Daughters (probably the painting now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), a fine copy of an earlier work, in the care of his son Francesco. He follows this in the next year with an extraordinary Annunciation (Galleria Sabauda, Turin) and secures the duke's patronage. While in Genoa, he also paints a series of frescoes for the loggia of Marc Antonio Doria's casino in San Pier d'Arena (near Genoa). Though active in Rome for much of his career, Orazio's refined and poetic compositions win an international acclaim that takes the artist to Paris in 1624 and, two years later, to London, where he dies in 1639.
• 1626–27 During his brief reign, Vincenzo II Gonzaga, the seventh and last duke of Mantua from the main line of the Gonzaga family, sells most of the family's art collection to Charles I, king of England and Scotland (r. 1625–49). Charles's acquisition of this collection, consisting of sixteenth-century masterpieces by Titian, Correggio, and Raphael, as well as contemporary works by Domenico Fetti, Guido Reni, and Caravaggio, makes him the envy of rival connoisseurs across Europe.
• 1630 The Venetian senate proposes the raising of a church as a votive offering against plague. In the following year, Baldassare Longhena (1596–1682) is chosen to carry out its construction. The splendid Santa Maria del Salute, rising at the junction of the Giudecca and Grand canals, is not only the most important commission of Longhena's career, its success establishing him as chief architect for the city of Venice; it is also among Venice's most important seventeenth-century structures. Consecrated in 1687, five years after the architect's death, the church employs a central domed octagonal area surrounded by an ambulatory with radiating chapels; it is admired and copied throughout Europe. Flemish-born sculptor Josse de Corte (1627–1679), active in Venice from 1655, produces a sculptural group—the Queen of Heaven Expelling the Plague (1670)—for its high altar. Widely considered Corte's masterpiece, the dramatically articulated group is influenced not only by Bernini (whose works Corte encountered in Rome), but also by the expressiveness of the Flemish sculptural tradition.
• 1634 Sculptor and architect Alessandro Algardi (1598–1664) is commissioned by the influential Spada family to execute a freestanding sculptural group for Gian Lorenzo Bernini's high altar at San Paolo Maggiore in Bologna. The monumental sculptural group, a Martyrdom of Saint Paul (completed 1644), is among Algardi's masterpieces, achieving great tension in the static poses and swirling drapery of Paul and his executioner, whose arm is poised to strike. It is, however, primarily for relief and portrait sculpture that the artist is known. A bronze tondo relief of 1648 depicting the Beheading of Saint Paul appears on the same altar, its narrative drama effected by illusionistic carving, gesture, and expression. Algardi's activity from 1625 is centered in Rome where, with his contemporary and sometime rival Bernini, he becomes one of the most important sculptors of the mid-seventeenth century. His work is nevertheless suffused with a classicism influenced by other painters of his native Bologna, especially Guido Reni (1575–1642), and learned in his own training as a painter at Ludovico Carracci's Accademia degli Incamminati.
• 1637 The first public opera house opens in Venice. Cultivated within a group of Florentine poets, scholars, and musicians known as the camerata, opera comes into being around the turn of the seventeenth century. It is the supreme exemplification of the Baroque ideal of unity among the arts, necessitating the collaboration of poets and writers, composers, musicians, painters, and architects.
• ca. 1658 Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) undertakes an apprenticeship with Nicolò Amati (1596–1684), an accomplished luthier (craftsman of stringed instruments) working in the tradition of his grandfather, Andrea Amati (ca. 1511–1580). Active in Cremona, a city already renowned for a century as Italy's leading center for the manufacture of musical instruments, the Amati workshop produces violins of exceptional beauty of form and sweetness of tone. In his own long career, Stradivari surpasses even his illustrious masters in crafting over a thousand instruments of unparalleled quality. Also working with the Amati in his early years is Andrea Guarneri (ca. 1626–1698), founder of a successful family workshop; his grandnephew Giuseppe Guarneri (1698–1744) achieves great fame as a craftsman of instruments after Brescian models.
• 1666 Guarino Guarini (1624–1683) arrives in Turin to take over the construction of the Church of San Lorenzo, already underway. Two years later, he is officially named architect of the church, and work begins to Guarini's completely new design. The resulting structure—with an interior characterized by profound intricacy of geometric design—exemplifies Guarini's rejection of a strictly classical, Vitruvian architectural vocabulary, as he turns instead to medieval models. His treatise, Architettura civile, is published posthumously in 1737 and gives a detailed analysis of medieval architectural structures. Also among Guarini's chief inspirations is the work of the great Roman Baroque architect Francesco Borromini (1599–1667).
• 1669 Crete, a Venetian possession since 1204, falls to the Ottoman Turks; Peloponnesos meets the same fate in 1715. The loss of these Mediterranean territories is symptomatic of the decline of Venetian power that occurs throughout this period.
• 1670 The Voyage of Italy, a guidebook by British scholar Richard Lassels (1603–1668), is published posthumously. In it Lassels asserts the necessity of a "Grand Tour" through France and Italy to a truly serious student of classical antiquity, art, and architecture. He is the first to use this enduring term for a practice that begins in the middle years of the seventeenth century and peaks in the last years of the eighteenth. Undertaken by well-born, educated men, the journey (usually completed over several years) is intended to acquaint the traveler with the language, culture, politics, and history of other regions, while presenting opportunities for the study and collection of antiquities and art objects.
• 1678 Carlo Cesare Malvasia publishes the Felsina pittrice, a history of Bolognese painting with artists' biographies. In it he extolls the excellence of the Bolognese school, suggesting that it surpasses even Florence in the merit of its artistic output.
• ca. 1693 Giuseppe Maria Mazza (1653–1741) executes a stucco Madonna of the Mystery of the Rosary (no longer extant), framed by fifteen narrative medallions in terracotta, for the altar of the Fontana Chapel, Church of Corpus Domini, Bologna. This work secures his reputation as the foremost Bolognese sculptor of his time. In 1710, Mazza is the founding director of the Accademia Clementina, the city's first official art academy.

Please make a comparative analysis of the artist works and contemporary artists/artworks also underline mutual influences

Artistic Analysis:

Borromini's first major independent commission was the reconstruction in 1634-37 of the interior spaces of the church and adjacent buildings of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (also called San Carlino); the façade of the small church would be completed by Borromini much later, at the end of his career, which San Carlo neatly brackets. The church is dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo, and may have prompted his name change. The small church is considered by many an iconic masterpiece of Roman Baroque. Borromini avoided linear classicism and eschewed a simple circular shape in favor of a corrugated oval, beneath an oval dome that is coffered in a system of crosses and octagons that diminishes towards the lantern, source of all the light in this dark interior[1] The church is small;[2] its complex convex-concave rhythms disrupt the oval of the nave[3][4]; he "designed the walls to weave in and out as if they were formed not of stone but of pliant substance set in motion by an energetic space, carrying with them the deep entablatures, the cornices, moldings and pediments" (Trachtenberg & Hyman). It is far bolder in geometric intricacy and less encrusted with figurative decorations[5] than Bernini's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale

Transnational Comparative Analysis:

Please make a cross reference to influences that may come from other countries.
France emerges during this period as a major world power and a cultural center to rival Rome, fountainhead of the Baroque style. This is largely due to the absolutist aims of the French monarchs, particularly Louis XIV, who, with a retinue of architects, painters, and sculptors, fashions a court of peerless splendor. The high Baroque style from Rome is slower to arrive in France than elsewhere in Europe, as a strict classicism prevails for much of the seventeenth century. In the latter half of the period, France is the seat of the Enlightenment, a major intellectual movement that asserts the power of reason and mobilizes a widespread dissatisfaction with contemporary social and political ills that results, later in the century, in revolution. With the Enlightenment comes a renewed veneration of antiquity and a Neoclassical movement in the arts; this gives way, at the end of the period, to Romanticism.
1620s Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), a Flemish master whose international renown stretches from Northern Europe and his native Antwerp to Southern Europe and the Italian peninsula, is active at the French court. There he paints a monumental cycle of allegorical scenes from the life of Marie de' Medici for the Luxembourg Palace (now Musée du Louvre, Paris). A companion cycle of scenes from the life of Henry IV is planned but never completed; six of these canvases are in the artist's studio at his death. (An oil sketch for The Triumph of Henry IV is in the Metropolitan Museum; 42.187.) The far-reaching influence of Rubens is felt by the late seventeenth century and extends well into the eighteenth.
• 1622 Armand Jean du Plessis (1585–1642), duc de Richelieu, a cleric in the service of Marie de' Medici, is granted a cardinalate. Thereafter the Cardinal Richelieu rises steadily in power, and as his influence as a public figure increases, so too does his ambition as a patron. In his professional capacities, Richelieu is involved in many royal projects, including the decoration of the Palais du Luxembourg and the summoning of Italian artists to France. He funds numerous projects of his own as well; of particular note is the renovation of buildings at the Sorbonne from the late 1620s into the 1640s. Richelieu amasses a great personal collection, including masterworks from antiquity through his own time (see Caravaggio's Musicians, 52.81).
• 1622–41 Sébastien Stoskopff (1597–1657), a painter from the city of Strasbourg, resides in Paris. Among the first great still-life painters working in France, Stoskopff's virtuosity lies in his ability to render the texture and surface luster of shells, glass, and metal objects with meticulous detail and finish. He paints the Still Life with a Nautilus, Panther Shell, and Chip-Wood Box (2002.68) during his stay in Paris, about 1630.
• 1627 Simon Vouet (1590–1649), a painter active at the time in Rome, is called to court by Louis XIII and later made his chief painter. While he is among the first artists to introduce elements of the Italian Baroque into French painting, the Caravaggesque style he practices in Rome soon gives way to a sensuous, decorative approach that points toward the Rococo. Vouet is briefly displaced in the king's favor by Poussin; the rivalry thus established between the two painters mirrors that which occurs between the conflicting styles—decorative and classicizing, respectively—that they espouse.
• by 1629 The Le Nain family of painters—Antoine (1588?–1648), Louis (1593?–1648), and Mathieu (1607–1677)—are active in Paris. While the brothers often collaborate, each excels in a different aspect of painting. Antoine is a skilled miniaturist, Mathieu a portraitist, and Louis conceives of genre scenes such as the Peasant Family (Louvre) that imbue their subjects, often treated humorously or satirically by other contemporary artists, with a classicizing dignity.
• 1633 Graphic artist and native of Nancy, Jacques Callot (1592–1635) produces Great Miseries of War, two print series depicting the carnage and suffering he witnesses during the Thirty Years' War. Of less emotional intensity but lacking none of the immediacy of this series are works he produces between 1612 and 1621 for the Medici in Florence. Callot's directness and descriptive abilities over a wide range of subject matter—from witty depictions of court festivals and scenes from the Italian commedia dell'arte to frank and often moralizing portrayals of human brutality—influence many Northern artists, including La Tour, Watteau, and Rembrandt.
• 1639 Georges de La Tour (1593–1652) is named painter to the king. Active in his native Lorraine, La Tour is among the finest Northern artists working in a Caravaggesque style. The Fortune Teller (60.30 )and The Penitent Magdalen (1978.517) reflect the influence of Caravaggio in both their genre subjects and their technique of lighting, with a strong contrast of illumination and shadow. These characteristics combine with simple geometry of form and a meditative mood in the pictures for which he is chiefly known, including several compositions of the Magdalen and a canvas of Joseph the Carpenter (Louvre).
• 1640 Louis XIII summons Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) to Paris as his principal painter. Between 1624 and 1640, Poussin is active in Italy; he first travels to Venice and is influenced by the poetic mythological subjects and warm palette of Titian, and later settles in Rome. There, inspired by Raphael and works of classical antiquity, he develops a style of painting that aims through subject matter, clarity of composition, and precision of gesture and detail to convey the nobility of human actions. Dissatisfied with French court life, he returns to Italy by 1643; his work nevertheless sets the tone for a classicism that prevails in French art throughout the century.
• 1643 The five-year-old Louis XIV (1638–1715) succeeds his father as king of France, with his mother, Anne of Austria, serving as regent. Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602–1661), Anne's advisor and successor of the late king's chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, helps to centralize the power of the monarch. He does this mostly through astute diplomacy, as earlier schemes of taxation stir waves of unrest that culminate in a series of uprisings known as the Fronde (1648–53). Louis assumes leadership at Mazarin's death; by this time, the road is well paved for the absolutism associated with his reign, exemplified by a statement attributed to the king: "L'état, c'est moi" ("I am the state"). With his chief advisor Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), he devises elaborate systems of domestic government and court policy designed to exert complete control over his subjects and curtail the power of the nobility. Architecture and the visual arts play a vital role in this plan, as a classicizing style is made "official" and large-scale artistic endeavors have as their sole aim the glorification of the monarch and the preservation of his fame. In 1662, the artist Charles Le Brun (1619–1690) becomes chief painter to the king, but wields even greater power than the title implies. Le Brun, acting as supervisor of all royal artistic projects, overseeing the construction and decoration of the palace at Versailles, and directing the Gobelins workshops and the Royal Academy (founded 1648), virtually controls the artistic output of the country for nearly three decades.
• mid-17th century François Mansart (1598–1666) is one of the most influential architects of his day, particularly for château (country house) and hôtel (townhouse) design. The Château de Maisons (1642–50) near Paris exemplifies Mansart's masterful application of classical form to Baroque structures.
• 1648 The Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture is founded in Paris. In 1663, Charles Le Brun becomes its director, and imposes a strict curriculum of practical and theoretical studies based on the classical style deemed appropriate by the monarch and by Le Brun himself. The Académie establishes history (narrative) painting as the highest of art forms and praises the painters of antiquity, also Raphael—and, among contemporaries, Poussin—as the greatest artists, but regards as inferior still-life painting, the Venetian colorists, and those inspired by them, including Rubens. A rivalry between Poussinistes—those who assert the superiority of drawing—and Rubénistes—who maintain the importance of color—extends into the next century.
• 1656–61 Architect Louis Le Vau (1612–1670) and painter/designer Charles Le Brun build the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte for Louis XIV's superintendent of finances Nicolas Fouquet (1615–1680). André Le Nôtre (1613–1700) provides designs for the gardens, his earliest masterworks. The harmony of style among the three collaborators earns the admiration and envy of Louis, who visits the château in the year of its completion, weeks before Fouquet's arrest and banishment for draining the treasury for personal profit. The king shortly thereafter appoints the three men to posts at court.
• 1662 Louis XIV purchases the Gobelins workshops in Paris, where his minister Colbert gathers artisans to create tapestries and furniture for the king's palaces. Charles Le Brun serves as director and chief designer from 1663 until his death.
• 1664 A competition is begun for a design to complete the Louvre. Rebuilding and expansion of the medieval palace has been in progress, with interruptions, since the reign of Francis I. Henry IV (r. 1589–1610) chooses the Louvre as his residence, and numerous projects for its enlargement, including the construction of the Grande Galerie du Bord de l'Eau, which joins the Louvre to the Palais des Tuileries, are conceived during his rule. In 1665, the great Roman Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) comes to Paris and submits several designs for the palace's remaining structural component: an eastern facade. Louis XIV rejects these designs and entrusts the project to Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun, and Claude Perrault (1613–1688). Completed in 1670, the eastern facade is a triumph of French classicism, with its grand colonnade and center pavilion that recall ancient Roman temple architecture.
• 1666 A branch of the Académie is founded in Rome; eight years later the Prix de Rome is established, awarding a period of study in Rome to gifted painters, sculptors, and (after 1720) architects. These institutions stress the importance of a firm grounding in the classical tradition so integral to the Académie's curriculum and crucial to French art of the period.
• 1669 Louis XIV orders the construction of a royal palace at Versailles, a small town outside of Paris. Work begins under Louis Le Vau, designer of the Garden Front; Le Vau dies in the following year, and Jules Hardouin Mansart (1646–1708) takes over the project. The interior is dominated by the great Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) flanked by the Salon de la Guerre (War) and Salon de la Paix (Peace). The lavish decorative program, executed by Le Brun with stucco reliefs by Antoine Coyzevox (1640–1720), a sculptor with a particular gift for portraiture, reflects Baroque ideals. Equally lavish are the garden designs of André Le Nôtre. Louis moves to Versailles with his court in 1682; removed from the cultural hub of Paris, members of the aristocracy live under the watchful eye of the king, who dictates rules of behavior and fashion that keep the wealth and authority of the nobles in check.
• 1680–91 Jules Hardouin Mansart constructs the Church of the Invalides in Paris; it adjoins the Hôtel des Invalides (1671–76), a veterans' hospital built by Libéral Bruant. Influenced in some aspects by Italian Renaissance structures—particularly in its Greek cross plan, which recalls Michelangelo's plan for Saint Peter's in Rome—the church, with a massive, dramatic facade and tall dome, is chiefly an interpretation of the Roman Baroque. Mansart's town-planning projects include the Place des Victoires (1684–86) and the Place Vendôme of 1699, the year in which he is named chief architect for royal buildings.
• 1682 Pierre Puget (1620–1694) completes his masterpiece, the larger-than-lifesize sculpture Milo of Crotona. This marble group depicts, possibly as a warning against pride, the boastful hero of myth being attacked by a lion. The great tension created by a strong diagonal composition of the figure's limbs and garment drapery, as well as a graphic depiction of physical anguish, embody a Baroque sensibility, greatly influenced by the sculptor's years of study in Italy. The moralizing classical theme undoubtedly appeals to Louis XIV, who accepts the sculpture for display at Versailles (now in the Louvre) and retains Puget in his employ. This happens in concurrence with the death of the statesman Colbert, who in the previous decade criticized the "heated" imagination of Puget, then active in Toulon; it is largely due to opposition from strict classicists such as Colbert that Puget achieves success at court only in the later years of his career.
• 1699–1700 The earliest surviving Parisian silver teapot, now in the Museum's collection (48.187.78), is made. The introduction of tea and coffee into France in the seventeenth century provided an important impetus for the development of new forms in silver. French silver set the artistic standard for court silver throughout Europe, and the Swedes were especially influenced by French designs; it is recorded that a drawing of a teapot very similar to this one was sent to Sweden in 1702.

This period marks a significant turn in the tide of fortunes for the Iberian Peninsula. The English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 is the first of several debilitating blows to Spanish authority suffered by the country in the warfare with which the period is rife. Nevertheless, the artistic life of Spain flourishes, and the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries produce the greatest masters of the Spanish school. Monarchs avidly patronize native artists as well as Flemish and Italian masters, as lavish displays of pomp and splendor are used to assert the glory of the Spanish crown. The Baroque style is brought to the region through contact with Italy; it gives way in the eighteenth century to a severe Neoclassicism. The artistic and architectural styles that take root in Spain in turn appear in the arts of the Spanish colonies of the Americas.
In 1640, Portugal overthrows Spanish authority; by the early eighteenth century, the country experiences a period of great prosperity that enables a surge of artistic production and building activity. After a devastating earthquake in 1755, the city of Lisbon is rebuilt as an elegant and cosmopolitan capital.
1598–1621 Philip III rules Spain, Naples, Sicily, the Southern Netherlands, and (as Philip II) Portugal. Fervently pious but having little interest in matters of state, Philip delegates most of his authority to a royal favorite, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, duque de Lerma (1553–1625). Lerma's administration is marked by a mass expulsion of moriscos (Moors converted to Christianity) from 1609 to 1614, resulting mainly from suspicions that they, in alliance with Henry IV of France, the Dutch, and the Turks, plan to assassinate the king. This expulsion contributes to a further decline in Spain's industry and commerce as it loses an enormous, culturally rich segment of its population, but is seen as a religious and political triumph. Despite financial ills and precarious foreign relations, including an uneasy twelve-year truce with the Dutch (1609–21), the country witnesses a flowering of the liberal and visual arts. Some of the greatest masters of Spanish literature are active at this time, including Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), whose Don Quixote appears in 1605–15, and Félix Lope de Vega Carpio (1562–1635), the foremost and certainly most prolific Spanish dramatist, author of some 1,800 plays.
• first half of 17th century Seville is the artistic center of the Iberian Peninsula, producing some of the period's greatest masters: Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), and Juan de Valdés Leal (1622–1690).
• 1603 Spanish painter Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560–1627) retires to the charterhouse at Granada, where he lives as a Carthusian lay brother until his death. An inventory of his studio made shortly thereafter includes twelve still lifes, among the first painted in Europe; the artist depicts fruits, vegetables, and fowl arranged on a shallow ledge against a dark background, or suspended from threads. Purity of composition, peerless observation of detail, and bright illumination combine to effect an astonishing drama in everyday objects.
• by 1609 Juan Martínez Montañés (1568–1649) is the finest and best-known sculptor in Seville. In this year, he receives two of his most ambitious commissions: one for the design and execution of an altarpiece for the convent of San Isidoro del Campo, Santiponce, Seville, and another for the high altar of San Miguel, Jerez de la Frontera. Montañés works in the medium of polychrome wood, widely popular at this time (he does not apply the polychrome himself but employs skilled masters to do so), and imbues his figures with a naturalism and a mystical grace that contribute to his fame and win him patronage from as far as the Americas.
• by 1611 Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), a painter and printmaker of Valencian birth, is active in Italy, where he remains for the entirety of his career. He is greatly influenced by Caravaggio and his Northern followers in Rome, and several years later settles in Naples, where his patrons include the ruling Spanish viceroys. Though Ribera's style reflects the artistic events of his adopted home, the artist remains aware of his Spanish origins, often signing his works with his place of birth, as in a fine late work, The Holy Family with Saints Anne and Catherine of Alexandria (34.73)
• 1614 Painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco, the greatest Spanish master of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, dies in Toledo. In his portraits and religious subjects, El Greco captures with expressive handling and bold use of color the fervent spirituality of his time.
• 1621 At the death of his father, Philip IV (r. 1621–65) ascends the throne. His reign is largely occupied by war, including renewed participation in the Thirty Years' War. Victories of the early 1620s against the French and Dutch are followed by later losses, including a major concession of territory in Flanders to France by the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659), which, combined with the terms of the Peace of Westphalia (the 1648 treaty that ends the Thirty Years' War), bolsters the steadily growing power of France and marks the steady decline of Spanish authority. Philip also faces mounting economic crises, the secession of Portugal (1640), and Catalan revolt (1640–52). He is aided until the early 1640s by Gaspar de Guzmán, conde-duque de Olivares (1587–1645), a gifted statesman who works toward government reform and a reassertion of Spain's glory and strength as a world power. Despite a shortage of funds, displays of royal splendor are encouraged as a means of propaganda, and both the king and his chief minister are avid patrons. Philip is inspired in his connoisseurship by that of his grandfather, Philip II, who during his reign (1556–98) amassed a collection including works by the greatest Italian masters of the sixteenth century. Philip IV brings many of these works from the Escorial to Madrid, and patronizes many of the great masters of his own time, including Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1651/53); Alonso Cano (1601–1667), the sculptor/architect placed in charge of the construction of a cathedral at Granada; Velázquez; and the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), a friend and advisor to the king, celebrated not only for his peerless artistic merit but also for his skill as a diplomat and ambassador. In 1649, Philip acquires the art collection of the late Charles I of England, making him the rival of connoisseurs across Europe.
• 1623 Painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660) is summoned to Madrid from his native Seville to paint a portrait (now lost) of Philip IV. Pleased with this work, the king names Velázquez his official painter; the artist retains this title, with increasing honors, for the rest of his life. During two trips to Italy (1629–31; 1649–51), he adds a mastery of perspective and a heightened awareness of classical antiquity to his superb natural ability to capture human likenesses—from court jesters and dwarfs to high-ranking officials such as Pope Innocent X (Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome)—with astonishing truth and dignity. The culmination of his talents is represented by the late masterpiece Las Meninas (Prado, Madrid).
• 1630 The palace of Buen Retiro is raised on the outskirts of Madrid. Its lavish decorative program is unmistakably propagandistic, glorifying the monarch, the Church, and Spanish military victory in such monumental works as Velázquez's canvas The Surrender of Breda, as well as his portrait of Philip IV on horseback (1635). The palace also contains the Coliseo, the country's first permanent theater.
• from ca. 1630 Settled in Seville, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664) produces the works of his maturity. The saints, martyrs, and clerics that are his chosen subject matter exhibit solemn dignity, intense piety, and at times even a quiet domesticity; the spirituality of these images is focused by simple composition and strong contrasts of light and shade, often in which the subject is illuminated against a dark background.
• from mid-17th century Tile production flourishes in Portugal. Tiles, or azulejos, often sumptuously decorated with intricate painted designs, are used to adorn furniture and interior walls as well as exterior facades.
• ca. 1645 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682) paints a series of eleven saints for a monastery in his native Seville. The pictures secure immediate renown for the artist and establish him as the foremost painter in the city, a position he retains until his death. Murillo's techniques of composition and lighting bear the influence of Zurbarán as well as the Caravaggists, but stark intensity gives way to warmth and sweetness in many of Murillo's works (see the Virgin and Child, 43.13). Murillo is a skilled portraitist (see A Knight of Alcántara or Calatrava, 54.190; and Don Andrés de Andrade y la Cal, 27.219), and excels at the depiction of children in poignant genre scenes. The gentleness that suffuses Murillo's oeuvre is highlighted in his eleven canvases, depicting acts of Christian charity, for the Hospital de la Caridád in Seville.
• 1674 Gaspar Sanz (1640–1710) publishes the multivolume guitar method Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española. Sanz is an important figure in the popularization of the guitar as well as a gifted composer.
• late 17th century The Churriguera family of artists, led by José Benito de Churriguera (1664–1725), popularizes a style of architecture characterized by extraordinary plasticity, exuberant animation of form, and rich surface ornament. Masterworks of the Churrigueresque style include José Benito's altar for San Esteban in Salamanca (ca. 1700), and his brother Alberto's (1686–1750) designs for the splendid Plaza Mayor in the same city, the family's center of activity. Other influential masters of the period take inspiration from the Churriguera, including Fernando Casas y Nóvoa (1691–1749), who adds a splendid west facade (1738–50), called the Fachada del Obradoiro, to the Romanesque cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. The style is also brought to Spanish colonies in the Americas.
• 1692 Neapolitan painter Luca Giordano (1632–1705), a pupil of Pietro da Cortona and Ribera, enters the service of Charles II (r. 1665–1700), successor to Philip IV, in Madrid; he contributes frescoes to the chapel of San Lorenzo and the Escorial, and executes others in Madrid and Toledo.

This period witnesses a tremendous shift in the tide of social, political, and artistic life in the British Isles. At the end of the Elizabethan age, England is a major economic power, with London as its bustling cultural hub. Shortly after the accession of the first Stuart monarchs, the political and financial strength of the kingdom wavers. The Stuarts' rule by the Divine Right of Kings undermines the authority of subjects represented by Parliament, and their Catholic sympathies stir a new wave of religious unrest. These tensions culminate in the outbreak of civil war in 1642, the trial and execution of King Charles I (r. 1625–49), and a decade of Puritan rule. The eighteenth century is marked by even more far-reaching changes. Revolutions rage against absolute monarchy in France and British rule in America; they manifest a belief in the authority of the individual and the assertion of human reason over doctrine. This philosophy, which takes root throughout Western and Central Europe, influences nearly every aspect of the political and cultural life of the age, known as the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. At the end of the century, emotionalism and the senses take precedence over order and law as the Romantic movement in the arts and literature gains momentum.
While the British Isles are home to many of the great literary minds of the age, visual arts and architecture at the turn of the seventeenth century are dominated by foreign masters, most of Flemish origin. The Puritan-led Commonwealth of 1649–60, an outbreak of plague in 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666 virtually still the artistic production of the region. In the wake of these catastrophic events, however, a generation of native-born artists plants the seeds of a distinctly British school of painting and architecture. Influenced through earlier periods by movements and styles from other countries—such as the Italian Baroque and French Rococo

1603 At the death of Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland (r. 1567–1625) ascends the throne of England as James I, the country's first Stuart monarch. Literature and drama flourish at his court, as the king lends his patronage to such luminaries as playwright Ben Jonson (1572–1637) and the King's Men, a theatrical troupe co-owned by Richard Burbage (1567?–1619) and William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The art and architecture produced during this period are frequently referred to as Jacobean; the term, however, is less stylistic than temporal. Portraiture—particularly of a heraldic or iconic nature—dominates, and easel paintings aspire to the same degree of minute detail and high finish as that achieved by Nicholas Hilliard (1547–1619) and Isaac Oliver (ca. 1560–1617), the preeminent miniaturists of the day. Painters John de Critz (before 1551–1642), Robert Peake the Elder (active by 1576, died 1619), and Daniel Mijtens the Elder (1590–1647/48) excel at this type of representation and enjoy successful careers at the Stuart court. Architecture of the period is markedly inspired by Flemish masters and often bears Northern decorative motifs. Construction of massive country houses for the ruling elite also proliferates; notable examples of this are Audley End (ca. 1603–16), Essex; Hatfield House (1607–12), Herts; and Blickling Hall (designed 1616–17), Norfolk.
• 1619 James I commissions Inigo Jones (1573–1652), architect, leading theatrical designer of the day, and surveyor of the king's works between 1615 and 1643, to construct a banqueting hall at Whitehall Palace in London. Completed in 1622, the structure conforms to the principles set forth in the Quattro libri of Palladio, whose designs he encounters on visits to Italy; it is simple, symmetrical, and ornamented by engaged columns employing the classical orders. Jones's strongly classical designs for this and other major works, including the Queen's House at Greenwich (1616), are an important departure from the highly ornamental and Flemish-inspired structures prevalent at this time. Moreover, they provide an early model of the Palladian principles that are a vital force in the Neoclassical movement of the eighteenth century.
• October 1620 The precociously gifted Antwerp-born painter Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) arrives in London, where he remains until the following February. He is brought to England by Thomas Howard, second earl of Arundel, who first encounters the young artist at work in the studio of his master, the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). His stay, though brief, wins him great acclaim among the English nobility; his return and permanent settlement in 1632 earn him a knighthood and the patronage of King Charles I.
• 1620 Frustrated in their attempts to achieve reform within the Church of England, the Pilgrim Fathers, a group of Puritan separatists, set sail for North America on the Mayflower. They establish Plymouth colony in Massachusetts later that year.
• 1629 Charles I (r. 1625–49) commissions Peter Paul Rubens—then in London engaged in diplomatic affairs—to paint the ceilings of the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall Palace. The decorative program, completed in 1634, glorifies the reign of James I. The commission is a notable example of Charles's extensive patronage of many of the period's great artists. During his reign, Charles also purchases from the dukes of Mantua most of the Gonzaga art collection. This acquisition, consisting of sixteenth-century masterpieces by Titian, Correggio, and Raphael, as well as contemporary works by Domenico Fetti, Guido Reni, and Caravaggio, makes Charles the envy of rival connoisseurs across Europe. While the king's connoisseurship contributes to the cultural richness of the kingdom, it also contributes significantly to the crown's steadily increasing debt.
• mid-17th century Following the deaths of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, the popular tradition of miniature painting is carried on by a generation of artists led by Samuel Cooper (1608?–1672). Trained by his uncle, John Hoskins (active ca. 1615, died 1665), Cooper becomes the most important miniaturist of the Commonwealth and Restoration periods.
• 1632 Anthony van Dyck returns to England where, apart from two brief sojourns on the Continent (1634–35; 1640–41), he remains until his death. While his oeuvre includes religious as well as mythological subjects of great accomplishment, his fame in England rests chiefly on his abilities as a portraitist to render the sitter with sensitivity to character and incomparable elegance. Van Dyck's portraits, including those of James Stuart (1612–1655), Duke of Richmond and Lennox (89.15.16), and Robert Rich (1587–1658), second earl of Warwick (49.7.26), attest to this mastery in their assured handling, remarkable detail, and high finish.
• 1642 Civil war breaks out in England as the culmination of a longstanding rivalry between Charles I and Parliament. Like his father, James I, Charles is a staunch supporter of the Divine Right of Kings, a doctrine by which the monarch is answerable not to man but to God only. Charles twice dissolves Parliament and rules without one for eleven years. After several Royalist victories, the decisive Battle of Naseby (1645) ends in triumph for the Parliamentary army led by Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658). Charles surrenders in the following year, and in 1649 he is tried and executed for treason against his kingdom. England, Scotland, and Ireland are collectively declared a commonwealth, with Cromwell acting as Lord Protector. What follows is a period of strict Puritan rule, during which the arts are suppressed, theaters are closed, and patronage declines.
• by 1650 Dutch painter Peter Lely (1618–1680) settles in Covent Garden, where he wins the patronage of Royalist families who remain in London despite the raging civil war. Among Lely's most important patrons of this period are the Capel family, for whom he paints six half-length portraits and two double portraits. One of these is a canvas depicting Mary Capel (1630–1715), later duchess of Beaufort, and her sister Elizabeth (1633–1678), countess of Carnarvon, (39.65.3), remarkable in the delicacy of its modeling and masterly execution of the gleaming silk drapery of the sitters' gowns. Another portrait from this group represents Sir Henry Capel (1638–1696) (39.65.6). Lely's style is fully mature by the Restoration of 1660 and profoundly influenced by van Dyck, known to Lely from his patrons' collections and through his own activities as a collector and connoisseur. Lely serves as principal painter to Charles II from 1661 until his death.
• 1658 At Oliver Cromwell's death, the English Commonwealth passes into the hands of the Lord Protector's ineffectual son, Richard Cromwell, and soon dissolves. The late monarch's heir is brought out of exile and accedes as Charles II in 1660. The decades following the reestablishment of the monarchy, loosely termed the Restoration, are marked by a new surge of artistic, literary, and dramatic output.
• 1666 Most of London is destroyed in a fire that rages for five days. A committee of six men is established with the aim of rebuilding the city. Foremost among them is Christopher Wren (1632–1723), by this time a lauded architect, though not initially trained as such. Educated as a scientist and mathematician, Wren has a gift for invention, engineering, and problem solving that makes him a worthy candidate for this formidable undertaking. He drafts a plan for the new city within a week of the Great Fire; his role in the rebuilding, however, soon takes greater focus. He is placed in charge of the design and construction of churches, of which about fifty are erected. These are among the principal landmarks of the City of London until the twentieth century; many, however, are destroyed during the blitz of World War II. Wren executes many royal commissions as well, including the Royal Hospital, Chelsea (1682–89) and Hampton Court Palace (1689–ca. 1698), and designs buildings at Oxford and Cambridge. His greatest achievement, a project spanning thirty-five years of his career, is the construction of Saint Paul's Cathedral (1675–1710), London. Its massive structure, dynamic facade, and great dome point to Wren's fluency in the architectural vocabularies of both the Renaissance and Baroque, and the inspiration he takes from contemporaries such as French architect Jules Hardouin Mansart (1646–1708), as well as earlier masters, particularly Donato Bramante (1444–1514).
• 1667 John Milton (1608–1674), author, poet, and supporter of the Commonwealth, publishes the first edition of Paradise Lost, an epic blank verse poem describing the rebellion of the angel Lucifer (Satan), his expulsion from heaven, and the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. With Paradise Lost, Milton aims to "justify the ways of God to Man," and his portrayal of the three central characters is psychologically penetrating and sympathetic.
• 1670s Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723), born Gottfried Kniller in the Baltic port city of Lübeck, arrives in London, where he serves as painter to Charles II, James II, William and Mary, and Queen Anne. His worldliness, gained from studies in Leiden and Amsterdam and later travels in Venice and Rome, prepares him for a life at court as well as with the urban elite in which he immerses himself and which he depicts on canvas with great success. His masterfully refined but realistic likenesses make him the most sought-after portraitist in London after the death of Peter Lely. Kneller popularizes the lifesize, half-length portrait, a format often referred to as the "kit-cat," named after the London gentlemen's club for which Kneller executes about forty such portraits (ca. 1720–21; National Portrait Gallery, London).
• 18th century Enlightenment thought spreads throughout Europe. Fostered in England by scientific innovations and discoveries of the previous century, particularly those made by Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the inductive method professed by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), and the empirical philosophy of John Locke (1632–1704), the Enlightenment asserts the importance of human reason as well as the existence of natural law. Although the movement is centered in Paris, it flourishes in England and gives rise to a generation of notable critics (Joseph Addison, Richard Steele), satirists (Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift), and economists (Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham). Inspired by this flowering of rationalism and order, the focus of the arts turns from the florid Rococo toward a greater simplicity. At the same time, the discovery of the ruins of the ancient cities Herculaneum (1709) and Pompeii (1748) renews interest in the classical world, and revolutions in France and America at mid-century invite comparisons between ancient and modern government. These factors combine to advance the Neoclassical movement in the visual arts and architecture.

Development of the artist's work through the years:

tanti progetti irrealizzati, quelli rimasti incompiuti e quelli vanamente idealizzati, come la realizzazione della volta di San Giovanni in Laterano, la lentezza con la quale progredivano per mancanza di fondi le fabbriche che aveva iniziato, nonché il progressivo distacco mostrato da Alessandro VII verso la sua architettura, costituirono per Borromini fonti di grande dolore, al quale sempre più a fatica riusciva a reagire applicandosi in maniera pressoché maniacale al lavoro. Tuttavia ciò non si rifletteva nell'acquisizione di nuovi committenti, anzi la sua irosa depressione lo allontanava anche dai vecchi, come i Filippini che nel 1657 decisero di non richiamarlo per lavori di completamento dell'Oratorio da lui stesso progettati.
Negli ultimi anni di vita lavora per altri vecchi committenti come i Falconieri, per i quali nella chiesa di San Giovanni dei Fiorentini portò avanti senza terminarla la cappella familiare, realizzò una cappella sotterranea, si interessò dei monumenti presso l'altare maggiore (1664) e trasformò la loro villa a Frascati (1665).
Sono noti inoltre altri progetti tra cui quello per la sistemazione della basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura, riferibile all'ultimo periodo del pontificato Pamphili, quello per la chiesa di Sant'Eustachio e quelli per la tribuna e il deambulatorio della chiesa di San Carlo al Corso. Tra il 1650 e il 1657 Borromini fornì al padre Virgilio Spada disegni per due altari che la sua famiglia faceva costruire in Emilia.. Per chiesa di San Paolo a Bologna, progettò la mensa antistante la monumentale tribuna del Facchetti. Per la chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Angelo, a Faenza, Borromini si limitò ad apportare qualche variazione a un progetto dello stesso Spada. Ancora grazie al patrocinio di quest'ultimo nel 1661 egli presentò ad Alessandro VII un progetto per la Sagrestia Vaticana, che prevedeva la costruzione di un nuovo monumentale edificio a pianta ovale al posto dell'esistente rotonda di Santa Maria della Febbre.
Il 1662, l'anno della morte di Spada, che lo privava di un grande sostegno, coincise con l'incarico di completare il complesso dei Trinitari al quadrivio delle Quattro Fontane con la facciata del convento sulla strada del Quirinale e quella della chiesa che, pur ultimata del tutto dopo la sua morte, emblematicamente chiudeva la parabola della propria carriera iniziata ad alti livelli trent'anni prima con quest'opera. Nello stesso anno, grazie all'intercessione del cardinale Ulderico Carpegna, il vescovo Alessandro Sperelli faceva realizzare, con il suo consenso, una esatta replica dell'interno del San Carlino nella nuova chiesa di Santa Maria del Prato a Gubbio, straordinaria testimonianza della fama raggiunta. Questa fama è riflessa anche nella descrizione delle sue opere contenuta nel manoscritto della "Roma ornata dall'architettura, pittura e scultura", una guida della città scritta dall'amico Fioravante Martinelli - per il quale Borromini aveva realizzato una piccola casa - recante annotazioni e correzioni di sua stessa mano.
L'ultimo periodo di attività di Borromini, anche se meno legata ai cantieri, fu comunque ricchissima sotto l'aspetto creativo sfociando in una gran messe di progetti ideali, non connessi a reali commesse, destinati ad essere incisi e raccolti in una sorta di trattato che forse avrebbe fatto parte della serie di volumi illustrativi della sua opera, iniziata con quelli dedicati al complesso della Sapienza e all'Oratorio dei Filippini (pubblicati postumi dall'editore Sebastiano Giannini con il magniloquente titolo "Opus Architectonicum Equiti Francisci Borromini", rispettivamente, nel 1720 e nel 1725). L'enorme valore che egli attribuiva ai disegni, prefigurandone tutta la potenzialità espressiva, tanto da fargli dire, secondo Baldinucci che "erano i suoi propri figlioli e non voler che egli andassero mendicando la lode per lo mondo, con pericolo di non averla, come talora vedeva a quei degli altri addivenire", rende chiaro come questo tipo di manifestazione creativa assumesse per lui un valore almeno pari rispetto a quella edilizia, perché ci tenesse a fissarli in un trattato, e perché, infine, nella concitazione delle ultime ore di vita abbia preferito darli al fuoco piuttosto che esporli a manomissioni altrui. D'altra parte egli non si era mai curato di trasmettere il suo sapere ad allievi, preferendo avvalersi della collaborazione di semplici esecutori come ad esempio Francesco Righi e Francesco Massari, suo assistente nella fabbrica di San Carlino, nonché ospite della sua casa, mentre le doti del giovane nipote Bernardo Castelli non potevano fargli sperare niente più di una onesta pratica dell'architettura.
La concentrazione ossessiva sul lavoro teorico e l'amara consapevolezza della sua esclusività, dovuta alla progressiva perdita di contatti con l'esterno, accentuò i tratti più oscuri del suo carattere, come narra ancora Baldinucci: "Egli era solito di patir molto di umor malinconico, o, come dicevano alcuni dei suoi medesimi, d'ipocondria, a cagione della quale infermità, congiunta alla continua speculazione nelle cose dell'arte sua, in processo di tempo egli si trovò si sprofondato e fisso in un continuo pensare, che fuggiva al possibile la conversazione degli uomini stando solo in casa, in null'altro occupato che nel continuo giro dei torbidi pensieri".
Questo atteggiamento, al quale non dovette giovare neanche quel viaggio nostalgico in patria ipotizzato da alcuni, fu all'origine nella notte del 2 agosto del "caso stravagante e lacrimevole" - usando le parole del diarista Cartari Febei - di Francesco Borromini che "caduto da alcuni giorni in pieno umore hipocondriaco, con una spada, appoggiata col pomo in terra e con la punta verso il proprio corpo si ammazzò". In realtà la morte non seguì immediatamente l'autoferimento, frutto di una sua spropositata reazione al mancato adempimento di Massari ad un suo ordine di avere luce per scrivere, ma sopraggiunse "alle dieci hore dell'alba" consentendogli di confessarsi e di fare testamento dettando lucidamente a un notaio le circostanze e le ragioni dell'accaduto, beneficiando di gran parte dei suoi averi il nipote Bernardo, e stabilendo infine di farsi seppellire nella tomba dell'amato maestro Carlo Maderno nella chiesa di San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, senza alcuna indicazione del proprio nome.


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