Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Andreas Pozzo

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Italian painter and architect of the Baroque period, b. at Trent, 1642; d. at Vienna, 1709. The greater part of his life was spent at Genoa, Rome, Turin, and Vienna. After his literary studies, he devoted himself to painting, and at twenty-four entered the Society of Jesus as a lay brother. After his death he was commemorated by a memoir and a medal. Pozzo was an unrivalled master of perspective; he used light, colour, and an architectural background as means of creating illusion. In the Baroque period, instead of employing panels ornamented with stucco work, painting was used not only to cover the domes and semi-domes but also the ceiling and vaultings. Michelangelo had painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but Bramante did not follow him in treating the main vaulting of St. Peter's. It had begun to be customary to fill the sunken panels or large cartouches, and finally the entire vault, as, for example, the domes, with perspective paintings in the advanced style of Correggio. Michelangelo's device of painting in architectural framework to divide the different portions of the painting was no longer in vogue, nor even actual architectural members. Pozzo was a master in this new style of painting; he gives full instruction concerning this method in his manual. His frescoes on the ceiling, dome, and apse of the church of San Ignazio at Rome are greatly admired. By the skilful use of linear perspective, light, and shade, he made the great barrel-vault of the nave of the church into an idealized aula from which is seen the reception of St. Ignatius into the opened heavens. About the painting there is a wonderful effect of supernatural majesty, but the whole composition is more a feat of skill than a work of art. Only the Baroque era could regard it as a genuine devotional picture. Pozzo executed a similar work in San Bartolommeo at Modena. In the Abbey of the Cassinese at Arezzo and in the Pinacotheca at Bologna the magical effect is produced by the architectural perspective alone. Importance is laid on the profiles of the ornamental architectural members, not in the life and movement. According to his theory, columns must be twisted; they can even be bent and cracked. Coloured stones and metals must also aid in securing the pictorial effect. An extraordinary increase in bulk, therefore, would be required to obtain the necessary constructive strength. In making the altar for the Jesuit church at Venice, he erected for the plastic work of the centre a temple of ten columns, with twisted entablature. He also constructed the high altar of Gli Scalzi at Venice. The altar of St. Ignatius in the Gesù at Rome is an example of the greatest magnificence. His manual gives directions for making all kinds of church furniture. Pozzo's decorative work, logically systematized, shows his great talent which perfectly suited the characteristic taste of the period and the pomp then customary in religious services.

POZZO, Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (2 vols., Rome, 1693; 1700), text in Italian and Latin and 226 plates; tr. into English, JAMES (London, 1893); LANZI, Storia pittorica dell'Italia (Bassano, 1789); DE QUINCY, Dict. d'architecture.