Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza--page 2 (of three pages)

Borromini
1642-50; decoration continued until 1660





The interior is justly famous and totally unique, with a plan based on two interpenetrating triangles--a sort of star/hexagon shape. See here for plan of the interior. In Rudolf Wittkower's Art and Architecture in Italy, there is a complicated explanation of this plan.

The altar--one point of a star, but rounded


 

The entrance--also a point of a star which is truncated and the slice across the point made convex

 

A view of the side

The applied plaster decoration as well as the capitals of the fluted pilasters allude both to the Popes who reigned during the construction of this church and to other important Christian concepts. Below, for example, palm leaves refer to martyrdom while the flaming crown is a symbol of charity. "The oak wreathe is both a traditional symbol of glory and wisdom and a symbol of Pope Alexander VII..."(quoted from an email from Roberto Piperno, whose site on Rome as well as Christian symbolism is very helpful).
 
The dome caps the church without any transitional structure and continues the star plan of the church. Even the pilasters of the lower wall are continued in the dome. The verticality of the dome is emphasized even though there is a wide entablature separating the wall of the church from its dome.
 
The six mounds/mountains and star are on the papal coat of arms for Alexander VII. Stars proliferate--as linear stripes on the dome and even on the capitals. See also the three-dimensional version on the exterior.


Continue to page 3.

See also San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Borromini.

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© 2006 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.