Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

Home Forums Ireland reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches


Another masterful Architect-painter whom I much admire was Andrea Pozzo.

The St Ignatius’ Church
His masterpiece, the illusory perspectives in frescoes of the dome, the apse and the ceiling of Rome’s Jesuit church of Sant’Ignazio (illustrations right and below) were painted between 1685 – 1694 and are a remarkable and emblematic creation of High Roman Baroque. For several generations, they set the standard for the decoration of Late Baroque ceiling frescos throughhout Catholic Europe. Compare this work to Gaulli’s masterpiece in the other major Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.

The project had not started upon the church’s completion; Sant’Ignazio remained unfinished even after its consecration in 1642. Disputes with the original donors, the Ludovisi, had stopped construction of the planned dome. Pozzo expediently proposed to make an illusionistic dome, when viewed from inside, by painting on canvas. It was impressive to viewers, but controversial; some feared the canvas would soon darken.

On the flat ceiling he painted an allegory of the Apotheosis of S. Ignatius, in breathtaking perspective. The painting, 17 m in diameter, is devised to make an observer, looking from a spot marked by a brass disc set into the floor of the nave, seem to see a lofty vaulted roof decorated by statues, while in fact the ceiling is flat. The painting celebrates the missionary spirit of two centuries of adventurous apostolic spirit of Jesuit explorers and missionaries. To modern sensitivity, this would appear to incentivate the expansion of Roman Catholicism, along with the overseas enterprises of the day, to other continents. It was also a combative Catholicism. For example, in the pendentives rather than placing the usual evangelists or scholarly pillars of doctrine, he depicted the victorious warriors of the old testament: Judith and Holofernes; David and Goliath; Jael and Sisera; and Samson and the Philistines. It is said that when completed, some said (sic)”Sant’Ignazio was a good place to buy meat, since four new butchers are now there.”

In the nave fresco, Light comes from God the Father to the Son who transmits it to St. Ignatius, whence it breaks into four rays leading to the four continents. Pozzo explained that he illustrated the words of Christ in Luke: I am come to send fire on the earth, and the words of Ignatius: Go and set everything aflame. A further ray illuminates the name of Jesus (2). With its perspective, space-enlarging illusory architecture and with the apparition of the heavenly assembly whirling above, the ensemble offered an example which was copied in several Italian, Austrian and German churches of the Jesuit order.

The illustionistic perspective of Pozzo’s brilliant trompe-l’oeil dome at Sant’Ignazio (1685) is revealed by viewing it from the opposite endThe architecture of the trompe-l’oeil dome (illustration, left) seems to erase and raise the ceiling with such a realistic impression that it is difficult to distinguish what is real or not. Andrea Pozzo painted this ceiling and trompe-l’oeil dome on a canvas, 17 m wide. The paintings in the apse depict scenes from the life of St. Ignatius, St Francis Xavier and St Francis Borgia.

I scanned these from his book entitled ‘Perspective in Architecture & Painting’.
Good to see they had a sense of humour about these things back in 1685: 😀

Latest News