Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/446

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
414
Part II.
ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE.

Externally this basilica, like all those of its age, must have been singularly deficient in beauty or in architectural design. The sides were of plain unplastered brick, the windows were plain arch-headed openings. The front alone was ornamented, and this only with two ranges of windows somewhat larger than those at the sides, three in each tier, into which tracery was inserted at some later period, and between and above these, various figures and emblems were painted in fresco on stucco laid on the brickwork. The whole was surmounted by that singular coved cornice which seems to have been universal in Roman basilicas, though not found anywhere else that I am aware of.

The two most interesting adjuncts to this cathedral were the two tombs standing to the northward. According to the mediæval tradition the one was the tomb of Honorius and his wives, the other the church of St. Andrew. Their position, however, carefully centred on the spine of the circus of Nero, where the great apostle suffered martyrdom, seems to point to a holier and more important origin. My own conviction is that they were erected to mark the places where the apostle and his companions suffered. It is besides extremely improbable that after the erection of the basilica an emperor should choose the centre of a circus for the burying-place of himself and his family, or that he should be permitted to choose so hallowed a spot. They are of exactly the usual tomb-form of the age of Constantine, and of the largest size, being each 100 ft. in diameter.

The first was destroyed by Michael Angelo, as it stood on the site required fur his northern tribune, the second by Pius VI., in 1776, to make way for the present sacristy, and Rome thus lost, through pure carelessness, the two oldest and most sacred edifices of the Christian period which she possessed.

The most eastern had been so altered and overlaid, having been long used as a sacristy,[1] that it might have been difficult to restore it; but its position and its antiquity certainly entitled it to a better fate.


St. Paul's.

The church of San Paolo fuori le Mura was almost an exact counterpart of St. Peter's both in design and dimensions. The only important variations were that the transept was made of the same width as the central nave, or about 80 ft., and that the pillars separating the nave from the side aisles were joined by arches instead of by a horizontal architrave. Both these were undoubted improvements, the first giving space and dignity to the bema, the latter not only adding height to the order, but giving it, together with lightness,

  1. "Il Vasicano discritto da Pistolesi," vol. ii. pls. xxiv. xxv.