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Carlo Maderna

Architect, b. 1556; d. 1629

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Maderna , CARLO (1556-1629), known principally by his extension of St. Peter’s, at the command of the pope, from the form of a Greek to that of a Latin cross. Regard for ecclesiastical tradition and other causes made the long nave preferable, notwithstanding that the effect of the cupola was thus much diminished. Maderna began his task in the year 1605, forty years after the death of Michelangelo. By bringing the columns nearer together, he sought to lessen the unfavorable effect produced, but in so doing obstructed the former unbroken vista in the side aisles. However, notwithstanding the extension, the great basilica has not lost its sublime grandeur.

The new facade was widened. It is an ornamental structure independent of the building itself, and its impressive size does not harmonize with the character of the decorations. The length measures 112 meters (367 ft. 4 in.) and the height 44 meters (144 ft. 4 in.). Eight gigantic columns, 27 meters (88 ft. 61 in.) in height, stand in two divisions, on both sides of which are pillars and imbedded pillars. Above these extends an entablature with balustrades, and an arch surmounts the portals. Upon this entablature stand statues of Christ and the Apostles, 5 to 7 meters (16 to 22 ft.) high. Massive corner-pieces were intended for bell towers, the lack of which at the present day weakens the effect of the facade. In the arrangement of the foreground and background, and in the different effects of intercolumniation, much freedom is used, not without many happy shadow effects. Between the building, which was itself lengthened by 50 meters (164 ft.), and the facade, there is a vestibule 71 meters (nearly 233 ft.) wide, 13 meters (42 ft. 6 in.) deep, and 20 meters (65 ft. 6 in.) high, leading into the five entrances. The interior of this vestibule is the finest work of the master, and it has even been rated one of the most beautiful architectural works of Rome, on account of the lordly proportions, the symmetrical arrangement, and the simple coloring the relief on the ceiling being painted in white and dark yellow.

The two fountains in the open space (piazza) before St. Peter’s are also much admired. The facade of St. Susanna and that of the Incurabili as lesser works, were better suited to the genius of Maderna. He also provided Sta. Francesca Romana with a facade in the Baroque style. In all these works, the want of harmony between the facade and the main body of the church was an inheritance from the Renaissance. But it was partially through the influence of Fontana, his uncle, that Maderna was even then dominated by the freedom of the Baroque style, which, in its later development, broke loose from all restraint. The serious dignity of the facade of the Gesi1 is not interfered with by its charming rhythm, varying shadow effects and rich decoration; and there is no lack of harmony of the whole, or of symmetry. The interior of Sant’ Andrea della Valle, majestic and rich in tone, gives us even now a true idea of the artistic taste of Maderna. He built a part of the Palazzo Mattei (the court, with lofty loggias) and, with Bernini, the Palazzo Barberini (the central building with three orders of columns and an open arcade). He cooperated, besides, in many works at Rome, for example, the Quirinal Gardens. At Ferrara, he designed the fortifications.


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