Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola

by Gerhard Gietmann


A theoretical and practical architect of the Transition Period between the Renaissance and Baroque styles; b. at Vignola in 1507; d. in 1573. He was the pupil and successor of Michelangelo. His two books, "Regole delle cinque ordini d'architettura" (1563) and the posthumous "Due regole della prospettiva pratica", had great influence for centuries. This is partly because he presents with skill the rigid sequence and the beautiful relation of parts in ancient architecture, and partly because his writings present a standard for work easily grasped by amateurs and persons of small ability. These writings place him in the same class with Serlio and Palladio. He built near the Piazza Navona a small palace in strict accordance with his own rules. The lowest story was embellished with Doric columns beneath a vigorous Doric frieze; the middle story with Ionic columns; while above the top story was a cornice with brackets, the whole forming a simple and graceful façade. The most celebrated of his secular buildings was the Farnese castle at Viterbo, which shows the impressions made upon him during a visit to France: the exterior is a pentagonal fortress; within is a fine circular court in the Renaissance style. The first Jesuit church at Rome, the famous Gesu, built by him, although itself restrained in manner, prepared the way for the Baroque style. Here Vignola connected the dome with a nave, giving he latter such breadth and height, in contrast with the very narrow aisles, that the central space produces a preponderating effect, the aisles showing as mere rows of chapels. Appropriately furnished and decorated, such a structure is well adapted to the services of the Church. The plan has been frequently repeated both in Jesuit and other churches. The porch of the Gesu was built by Giacomo dela Porta; its uniting volutes between the stories and the ornamentation around the doorway also became models for the succeeding period. Maderna was one of the first who, in the completion of St. Peter's, was strongly influenced by Vignola. From 1564 Vignola carried on Michangelo's work at St. Peter's and constructed the two subordinate domes according to Michelangelo's plans, yet with a successful independence. Besides buildings erected at an earlier date at Bologna and Montepulciano, mention should be made of his work in the Villa Giulio for Pope Julius II, the Church of the Angels at Assisi, and lastly the much-admired little Church of Sant' Andrea at Rome on the Pontemolle road, a square structure with a cupola.

WILLICH, Monographie (Strasburg, 1906). See also the well-known works of VASARI and QUATREMERE DE QUINCY.

G. GIETMANN