A planted avenue of arched ilex shrubs famously frames a view to the cupola of

A planted avenue of arched ilex shrubs famously

This preview shows page 55 - 57 out of 280 pages.

adjoining villa structures were embellished.A planted avenue of arched ilex shrubs famously frames a view to the cupola of Saint Peter’s all the way across the city, spied today by tourists who peek through the gate’s keyhole. Besides this long, purely visual connection, the site and access to the church itself are particularly eccentric.There is no clear approach up the steep slope of the hill, nor any comprehensive view of the complex once arrived. Piranesi’s project was conceived in a series of discrete events starting with an introductory piazza and culminating in an apotheosis at the altar of the church interior.The Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta is not a normal piazza in the urban sense, like Vanvitelli’s Foro Carolino, because its perimeter is defined not by buildings or colonnades but by a low boundary wall that only loosely delimits the void on three sides. Here, Piranesi invites us to meditate on the brotherhood of knights.At this site outside the city limits returning ancient soldiers consigned their arms for purification and safekeeping. Piranesi relives that memory imaginatively in connection to the valorous warriors’ return to Rome. Reliefs on the boundary wall and entrance screen to the gardens feature ornaments inspired by those on the base of the Column of Trajan. Pairs of obelisks, used in Piranesi’s Venice to honor the success of naval leaders, here with prows and rudders, specify the knights’ campaigns defending the seas. Emblems regarding the patron, the Rezzonico double-headed eagle and towers, are also woven in among a plethora of lyres, cameos, birds’ wings, and pan pipes, drawn from Piranesi’s own recherché collection. Each symbol pertains to more than one of four themes: antique or martial, the patron or the artist.The wreathed eagle is at once the Rezzonico seal and an ancient symbol of glory from imperial monuments, and also included in 55 the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900
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Piranesi’s synoptic table of exemplary Etruscan decorative inventions published in Diverse maniere . Simultaneous saturated readings of these motifs communicate the site’s ancient history and the history of the knights; they eulogize the order’s heroic past while introducing a funeral note, acknowledge the Grand Prior patron, and all the while advance the artist’s own polemical agenda on contemporary creativity. Piranesi shored up the foundations of the chapel, its facade, and its vault, often embedding ancient materials found on the site. He applied to the reconfigured facade a series of compounded motifs molded in inexpensive white stucco reprising the themes announced at the piazza. Sheathed swords are hung high on the pilasters as quiet trophies of battle. Beside the door, weightless strings of symbols hung as garlands bring together a deceptively nonlinear sequence of motifs again combining the Maltese and martial, Rezzonico and Piranesian.The Ionic capitals are carved with figures of sphinxes flanking Rezzonico towers elaborated, Piranesi informs us, from examples in the Villa Borghese antiquities collection and illustrated in his
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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