Mannerism in the Mid to Late 16th Century

Mannerism is a fairly modern term developed to describe a period between Renaissance and Baroque (around 1520-1600). It marks a change in attitudes toward proportion, balance, artifice, and shapes in spaces. For example, the use of ovals instead of circles introduces ideas of dynamic versus static. A sense of movement is created, and this goes back to the focus on humans and emotion. We begin to see a departure from the orderly reign of Renaissance rules. Mannerism, or at least the term, is about creating a surreal environment of emotional unrest. This may have been in response to the turmoil of the times, which included the Sack of Rome and the plague. Week 8 will explore concepts of Mannerism in Rome, Florence, and Northern Italy.

Palazzo Massimi alle Colonne, 1535

Located in Rome and built by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1556), Palazzo Massimi features several Mannerist innovations.
-curving facade, remarking on the dynamism in oval shapes
-unequal distribution of space in the entrance portico
-pilasters paired with columns
-inventive frames
-lack of horizontal and vertical divisions
The Palazzo Massimi ascends from the plastic lower levels to flatter upper stories, with a sucessful sense of animation. It is presented within the rippling facade.

Villa Giulia, 1551-55

Built for Pope Julius III, Giulia exemplifies the liminality between city and country. The villa, located just outside Rome, was meant to serve as a respite from the heat of summer. Jacopo da Vignola (1507-1573) headed the design, while Bartolomeo Ammanti and Giorgio Vasari contributed. Villa Giulia is similar to Bramante's Belvedere courtyard for Pope Julius II. Here we have a playful inner courtyard with karotids and maze like pathways.

Farnese Palace

Commissioned by Cardinal Farnese, this Palace was renovated by Jacopo da Vignola (started in 1530, continuing through 1553-56). Located in Caprarola, in the midst of a verdant landscape, Farnese Palace is an example of the integration of architecture with nature. It has two formal gardens one for winter and one for summer; and as it first designed by Peruzzi and Sangallo the Younger, it features a pentagonal plan used earlier as a fortress.

This design shares similarities with Bramante's Belvedere courtyard and House of Raphael. Note the following:

-grand stair case at entrance, innovative and useful in accomodating coaches
-more elaborate fenestration on the facade
-increase in ornamentation
-circular, colonnaded courtyard
-rusticated base
-ionic orders above a story with no columns
-bays and niches
-paired columns in the courtyard
-complex layering
-contrast between complex lower story and flat upper story

With the design of Farnese Palace, Vignola succeeds in classicizing Mannerism.

Via Pia, Michelangelo

Constructed in Rome, 1590, Porta Pia served as the gateway in and out of the city of Rome. As a commission by Pope Paul IV for civic improvement, it was natural that questions arose as to how something of this nature should be represented. Michelangelo seems to have decided on coded meanings and metaphors. He has created a piece using a variety of architectural tools. Certainly Mannerism is well represented here with:
-broken pediments and lintels
-pedimented windows in brackets
-short pilasters
-rusticated piers with pilasters
Michelangelo was influenced by the theatrical genres of the time; he chose to portray this gate as more dramatic than functional.

Casino Pius IV, 1560-63

Commissioned by Pius IV, the Casino was built by Pirro Ligoria (1515-1583). This structure is something of an anomaly, since it is only meant to exist as a small house for leisure it does not extend to the great size of other buildings we've seen. It also belies several things, one-the number of stories, while it may seem that there are three or more there are only two. Also, while the exterior is sumptuously decorated, the inside is rather simple. What I believe to be the main interest here is the archaelogical approach to decoration, with the detail of relief. You can see that the surface is treated differently than other buildings, there is a sensitivity to the depiction of museum like findings and the 3 dimensional sculpture. Located in Rome, these two structures are facing each other on opposite sides of the oval courtyard. This layout makes an ideal setting in which to take advantage of cool breezes and the sounds of nature.

Pitti Palace and Boboli garden, Florence

In 1558, Cosimo de Medici asked Bartolomeo Ammanati to improve upon his purchased Pitti Palace. Construction would last through 1570, and several important ideas came into fruition. Ammananti was by trade a sculptor and an architect, we have seen his work in the Laurentian Library and the Villa Giulia. With Pitta Palace, Ammanati expanded the block with arms in the rear toward the garden, making a stronger imposition. The garden itself is laid axially on the slope of a steep hill. It has taken on a more formal design, while also incorporating some of the native wilderness in the area. By putting these elements together, Ammanati has moved forward in the direction of a park environment.
The facade is typical of other Palazzo's we've seen, there are no orders, rusticated throughout, and it maintains certain Renaissance rules. The courtyard facade, however, is entirely different and unexpected. First of all, the courtyard has a sense of being sunk in while the hulking arms tower over. This sets the stage for the usual Mannerist playfulness. In the back there are now orders, but they are quite surreal. Ammanati gives us superimposition, his own version. There are three different orders, and the capitals are clearly representative. However, the columns themselves are sculptural, with a feeling of rippling under the surface and projecting out 3 dimensionally. The stories are heavily rusticated, this works in two ways, it offers plasticity and also contrasts the columns in a gesture of anti-classicization. Also notable here, the articulation of voussoirs. The entablature is serving two functions simultaneously, creating a sculptural sense of animation.

Palazzo del Te, 1526-34

Designed by Giulio Romano in Mantua for his patron, Federigo Gonzaga. The Palazzo del Te is a square building with 4 wings.On the textured facade, there are pilasters reaching from top to bottom.

In the entrance vestibule, Romano is making a reference to the origins of architecture via the rustic columns developed out of the unrefined materials of nature. Notice the contrast of the rough columns and the more polished coffering.
The entablature of the courtyard shows Giulio's less conventional way of looking at antiquities. He has used a doric triglyph pattern, but every so often one set is dropped, extended through the entablature. This might seem to be an arbitrary choice, but in fact it shows that the architect was looking at models which may not have been as well known. It is another example of the exploration common in Mannerist architecture.


Week 6/7: St. Peter's and Michelangelo

St. Peter's was briefly touched upon in the Bramante overview, as he was the original designer of the "New St. Peter's". This week we will discuss the contributions of Antonio da Sangallo and Michelangelo in the ongoing process of design and construction. The evolution of St. Peter's in Rome, under Pope Paul III Farnese, and Michelangelo's role and other works will be explored here. Starting off in Rome, we will also revisit San Lorenzo in Florence where Michelangelo was ordered to design a facade as well as the Medici funerary chapel. Pictured above is a projection of Michelangelo's final design on the still bare exterior of San Lorenzo.

Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, St. Peter's

Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1484-1546), was a Florentine and a pupil of Bramante's. We have seen some of his work on the Villa Madama.
Antonio da Sangallo was invited to work on the ongoing project of St. Peter's in the Vatican City. In 1520 he was appointed architect to the Fabbrica di San Pieto by Pope Paul III Farnese (1468-1449).
The reconstruction, designed by Bramante, of St. Peter's was started in 1506; there were to be many architects involved during the 120 years before it was consecrated. Sangallo created this large scale wood model in 1539. You will notice the differences in Sangallo's design and Michelangelo's. One is that the tall campanile have been edited out, also Sangallo had created an internal ambulatory which was destroyed during Michelangelo's time, apparently because it was blocking sunlight. The overall design is cluttered and lacks the cohesiveness that Michelangelo successfully created.

Michelangelo (1475-1564)

Michelangelo Buonarotti was born in Caprese (Tuscany) and died in Rome. He was an accomplished sculptor, painter, and architect who represented High Roman Renaissance and the concept of disegno. He apprenticed as a painter, taught himself to sculpt, and later studied anatomy by dissection. Early on he was favored by Lorenzo the Magnificent, and he would continue to have a demanding work relationship with the Medici family. When Lorenzo died, Michelangelo travelled on to Venice, Bologna, and Rome where he would work for various Popes and create some of his most memorable work, such as the Sistine Chapel (Creation of Adam detail above), the Last Judgement, David, and St. Peter's. While Michelangelo never formally learned architecture, he perceived it as an extension of sculpture. Buildings were, to Michelangelo, dynamic sculptures.

Model for St. Peter's

This is a drawing by Michelangelo detailing the reconstruction of St. Peter's basilica, originally built by Constantine in 323 A.D.
Notice that Michelangelo implemented an ovoid shaped dome and it is slightly, but definitely larger that Brunelleschi's, with a height of 448 feet.

Michelangelo used Brunelleschi's dome as a starting point, you can see that the dome for St. Peter's has a similar structure, using two brick shells and 16 stone ribs. The inner shell is more hemispherical while the outer is vertical. Like Brunelleschi's it is held together with a lantern topper.

St. Peter's, the finished product!

As Michelangelo worked diligently to stay true to Bramante's original plans, he was not the last to work on St. Peter's. Michelangelo had reverted back to the Greek cross plan, devised 5 cupolas, redesigned the dome; he was sucessful in strengthening and unifying the whole structure. In 1626, Carlo Maderno brought the design back again to a Latin cross plan and went on to create the facade. Using monumental orders and imbueing the basilica with a sense of plasticity and force, St. Peter's stood out as a sign of power and success.

Brunelleschi's San Lorenzo (1421-1470) Michelangelo's facade

Back in Florence, remember San Lorenzo? The plain exterior was the result of a common problem plaguing Renaissance churches: how to get a Classical temple front on a Christian church. Here we have an interesting image of Michelangelo's design superimposed as a virtual reproduction on the actual and still bare exterior of San Lorenzo. While working for Julius II in Rome, Michelangelo was called in to take on the project. Leo X was made Pope in 1513 and being a Medici, he wanted Michelangelo working on San Lorenzo. He later decided the New Sacristy in the Medici chapel was more important and Michelangelo was sent to design the funerary chapel.

You can see he might have been looking at Sangallo's original concept, which merged the stories to create a palace like facade with a rectangular shape. This design features
-paired columns and pilasters (Brunelleschian influence)
-niches between columns (Bramantean influence)
-complex rhthym
-no iconography or surface decoration, with the possible exception of the circles (may have depicted St. Lawrence)

The New Sacristy, Medici Chapel

 Commissioned by Pope Leo X, Michelangelo worked on the New Sacristry from 1519 to 1534. He faced the challenge of having four tombs to build and only two available walls (with a square plan, one wall for an entrance and one for an altar). Michelangelo took advantage of this situation, he devised an elaborate yet clearly articulated Mannerist environment.

-vertical divisions
-side bays with blank niches and large segmented pediments
-closely framed recessed statue with paired columns, but no pediment
-blind tabernacles over doors, the pediments here are uncomfortably oversized dynamically oppressing the pilasters

Michelangelo had reinterpreted the elements of Classical architecture, eschewing order and rule. He created a plastic environment of original ideas, merging sculpture and architecture to present a strong example of Mannerism.

A closer look at the tombs, which feature:
-tension between projecting and recessing elements
-white marble, intensifying the contrast between pietra serena and stucco
-semi circular pediment

Laurentian Library, San Lorenzo

Commissioned by Medici Pope Leo X, Michelangelo worked on the Laurentian Library in 1525. While the New Sacristy was a transitional project in Michelangelo's architectural career, the Laurentian Library could be seen as a more successful venture into Mannerism. Michelangelo had consciously moved away from the proportional rules of Vitruvian theories; his motivation was not in perfecting old traditions, but in exploring new ones. His architecture is based on anatomy and the concept of living organisms, a radical departure from static to dynamic and plastic. The vestibule features
-recessed columns impossibly supported on brackets
-columns and brackets are not located on the same plane
-pilaster frames on tabernacles taper at the bottom and are topped with capitals that are too narrow
-sense of organic unity and 3 dimensionality
-expressive, cascading stairs which seem to flow and spread on their descent

The stairway leads you up into the library, situated on higher ground to protect the collection from dampness and provide natural lighting. In the reading room, the ceiling is seemingly supported by wall pilasters and the windows are recessed with just a touch of flourish. Michelangelo contrasts the reading room (with its linearity, grace, and lightness) with the more sculptural staircase and vestibule. He is very interested in themes of compression and tension, the vestibule is animated, with remarks on the relationships between weight and support, while the reading room is a great relief of open space.
Although neither the New Sacristy or the Laurentian Library were completed by Michelangelo, they remain important milestones in architectural history.