Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Giacomo della Porta

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From volume 12 of the work.

Architect and sculptor, b. at Porlizza on Lake Lugano 1541; d. 1604. He was a pupil of Michelangelo and succeeded Vignola as architect of St. Peter's. Here he removed the temporary choir built by Bramante and with the aid of Domenico Fontana finished the dome and lantern by 1590 or 1592. He completed the plan of Il Gesu, the ground-plan and other chief architectural features of which are the work of Vignola, departing somewhat from his predecessor. Della Porta's façade was, in connection with Vignola's work, an authoritative model for large numbers of buildings in the Baroque style. The façade, fairly simple in design, is built in two stories, is topped by a gable, and is divided by half-pillars and pilasters, panels and niches. It can hardly be said to possess a clearly defined ecclesiastical character; the windows and entrances recall rather the style of a palace. In Santa Maria ai monti, he followed the ground-plan of the church of Il Gesu. He made the façade of San Luigi de' francesi a piece of decorative work entirely independent of the body of the structure, a method much copied later. Another architectural work is Santa Catarina de' funari at Roma. With Carlo Maderna he built the church of San Giovanni de' Fiorentini from the designs of Sansovino. Sometimes the Sapienza at Rome is ascribed to Michelangelo; however, della Porta had charge of the erection and work on the interior of the building although he did not complete it. In constructing an addition to Maria Maggiore he altered the plans of Michelangelo. He had something of the spirit of this great master, although he had neither the ability nor the desire to follow him in everything; yet he did not fall into the uncouth exaggerations of the later period. In the Palazzo Farnese his work is associated with that of Sangallo and Michelangelo. The Villa Aldobrandini with its superb gardens shows what beautiful work della Porta could construct when free to follow his own ideas. At Genoa he built the Annuziata, not with pilasters, a method much admired in the Baroque style, but as a columned basilica, without, however, infringing on the spacious width customary in this style. This is one of the most beautiful churches of the period. This is one of the most beautiful churches of the period. As a sculptor della Porta worked on the Certosa of Pavia. He has left some fine groups for fountains, especially the fountains at the Capitol and on the Piazza Mattei. In sculpture his teacher was il Gobbo.

Becker, Kunst u. Kunstler d. 16., 17. U. 18. Jahrh. (Leipzig, 1863-65); Burckhardt, Cicerone, 7th ed., Bode (Leipzig, 1898); Quatremere de Quincy, Hist. des architectes (Paris, 1830); Gurlitt, Gesch. D. Barockstils in Italien (Stuttgart, 1887).