Domenico Fontana

Domenico Fontana

Overview
Domenico Fontana was a Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

-born Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 of the late Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.





He was born at Melide
Melide, Switzerland
Melide is a municipality in the district of Lugano in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. The village lies very close to the mountain Monte San Salvatore and is directly on the Lake of Lugano...

, Ticino, Switzerland on the Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano is a glacial lake in the south-east of Switzerland, at the border between Switzerland and Italy. The lake, named after the city of Lugano, is situated between Lake Como and Lago Maggiore...

 and died at Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

. He went to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 before the death of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

. He won the confidence of Cardinal Montalto, later Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V , born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.-Early life:The chronicler Andrija Zmajević states that Felice's family originated from modern-day Montenegro...

, who entrusted him in 1584 with the erection of the Cappella del Presepio (Chapel of the Manger) in Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major , known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy.There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the...

, a powerful domical building over a Greek cross.
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Encyclopedia
Domenico Fontana was a Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

-born Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 of the late Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

Biography





He was born at Melide
Melide, Switzerland
Melide is a municipality in the district of Lugano in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. The village lies very close to the mountain Monte San Salvatore and is directly on the Lake of Lugano...

, Ticino, Switzerland on the Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano is a glacial lake in the south-east of Switzerland, at the border between Switzerland and Italy. The lake, named after the city of Lugano, is situated between Lake Como and Lago Maggiore...

 and died at Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

. He went to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 before the death of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

. He won the confidence of Cardinal Montalto, later Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V , born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.-Early life:The chronicler Andrija Zmajević states that Felice's family originated from modern-day Montenegro...

, who entrusted him in 1584 with the erection of the Cappella del Presepio (Chapel of the Manger) in Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major , known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy.There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the...

, a powerful domical building over a Greek cross. It is a marvellously well-balanced structure, notwithstanding the profusion of detail and overloading of rich ornamentation, which in no way interferes with the main architectural scheme. It is crowned by a dome in the early style of S. Mario at Montepulciano
Montepulciano
Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town and comune in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany, in Italy. Montepulciano, with an elevation of 605 m, sits on a high limestone ridge. By car it is 13 km E of Pienza; 70 km SE of Siena, 124 km SE of Florence, and...

.

For the same patron, he constructed the Palazzo Montalto near Santa Maria Maggiore, with its skilful distribution of masses and tied decorative scheme of reliefs and festoons, impressive because of the dexterity with which the artist adapted the plan to the site at his disposal. After his accession as Sixtus V, he appointed Fontana architect of St. Peter's
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, bestowing upon him, among other distinctions, the title of Knight of the Golden Spur. He added the lantern to the dome of St. Peter's and proposed the prolongation of the interior in a well-defined nave.

Of more importance were the alterations he made in Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (c. 1586), where he introduced into the loggia of the north facade an imposing double arcade of wide span and ample sweep, and probably added the two-story portico the Scala Santa. This predilection for arcades as essential features of an architectural scheme was brought out in the fountains designed by Domenico and his brother Giovanni, e.g. the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola
Fontana dell'Acqua Paola
The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola also known as Il Fontanone is a monumental fountain located on the Janiculum Hill, near the church of San Pietro in Montorio, in Rome, Italy. It was built in 1610-12 to mark the end of the Acqua Paola acqueduct, restored by Pope Paul V, and took its name from him...

, or the Fontana di Termini planned along the same lines.

Among profane buildings his strong restrained style, with its suggestion from Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, is best exemplified in the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

 (begun in 1586), in which the vigorous application of sound structural principles and a power of co-ordination are undeniable, but also the utter lack of imagination and barren monotony of style. It was characteristic of him to remain satisfied with a single solution to an architectural problem, as shown in the fact that he reapplied the motif of the Lateran Palace in the later part of the Vatican containing the present papal residence, and in the additions to the Quirinal Palace
Quirinal Palace
The Quirinal Palace is a historical building in Rome, Italy, the current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. It is located on the Quirinal Hill, the tallest of the seven hills of Rome...

.

Fontana also designed the transverse arms separating the courts of the Vatican. In 1586 he erected the 327 ton obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

 in the Square of St. Peter's. This feat of engineering took the concerted effort of 900 men, 75 horses and countless pulleys and meters of rope.

He gives a detailed account of it in Della transportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano e delle fabriche di Sisto V (Rome, 1590) http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?parent_id=350916&word= http://purl.pt/6256/1/index.html. The astronomer Ignazio Danti
Ignazio Danti
Ignazio Danti , born Pellegrino Rainaldi Danti, was an Italian priest, mathematician, astronomer, and cosmographer.-Biography:Danti was born in Perugia to a family rich in artists and scientists...

 is known to have assisted Fontana in this work.

Fontana also used his knowledge of statics
Statics
Statics is the branch of mechanics concerned with the analysis of loads on physical systems in static equilibrium, that is, in a state where the relative positions of subsystems do not vary over time, or where components and structures are at a constant velocity...

, which aroused universal astonishment at the time, in the erection of three other ancient obelisks
Obelisks in Rome
The city of Rome harbours the most obelisks in the world. There are eight ancient Egyptian and five ancient Roman obelisks in Rome, together with a number of more modern obelisks; there was also formerly an ancient Ethiopian obelisk in Rome....

 on the Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore, and Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano.

After his patron's death, he continued for some time in the service of his successor, Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

. Soon, however, dissatisfaction with his style, envy, and the charge that he had misappropriated public moneys, drove him to Naples where, in addition to designing canals, he erected the Palazzo Reale.

He died in 1607, and was buried in the church of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi
Sant'Anna dei Lombardi
Sant'Anna dei Lombardi is a church and monastic complex in Naples, southern Italy. It was originally named S. Maria di Monteoliveto and was founded in 1411 under king Ladislaus of Durazzo...

.

Domenico's brother Giovanni Fontana
Giovanni Fontana (Dominican)
Giovanni Fontana was a Dominican friar and late-Mannerist architect, as well as brother of Domenico Fontana.-External links:*...

 was also an architect.

Works

  • Domenico Fontana. Della transportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano e delle fabriche di Sisto V. Rome 1590.
    • Online edition, from New York Public Library
      New York Public Library
      The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

      .
    • Online edition, from Rare Book Room
      Rare Book Room
      Rare Book Room is an educational website for the repository of digitally scanned rare books made freely available to the public.Starting around 1996 the California based company Octavo began scanning rare and important books from libraries around the world. These scans were done at extremely high...

      .