The Openwork Dome As Sacred Theater: Illumination And Illusion In The Centrally Planned Churches Of Bernardo Antonio Vittone Volume I
Bernardo Antonio Vittone (1704-70), an architect and engineer who practiced in the Italian Piedmont, is best known for his centrally planned churches with openwork domes. Comprised of multiple, superimposed, and perforated shells, concealed windows, and light chambers, these domes display an illusionistic and scenographic quality suggestive of contemporary ephemeral and scenographic decorations. This dissertation examines Vittone's openwork domes and interprets them as a type of sacred theater, a theatrum sacrum perpetuum, in which the shells and concealed windows are understood to function like the wings and hidden lamps of a stage set. In conceiving the openwork dome as sacred theater Vittone integrated various strands of Italian Baroque architecture -- the conventional and the unorthodox, the academic and the bizarre -- to achieve a synthesis of the highest order. Chapter One discusses Vittone's taste for illusionism as it was formed during his architectural apprenticeship in Piedmont and his years of study at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, where he copied drawings of ephemeral decorations and scenographic caprices by Carlo Fontana, Johann Bernhard Fisher von Erlach, Filippo Juvarra, Andrea Pozzo, and other masters. Chapter Two examines the prominence given by Vittone in his architectural theory to considerations of illumination and illusionism in which, above all, the 'voluptuous genius' of the eye is to be delighted and satisfied. Chapter Three investigates Vittone's designs for ephemeral and scenographic decorations, including catafalques, fireworks machines, and temporary apparati for the sacred theater of the Quarantfiore Devotion, and their translation into permanent architecture. Chapter Four examines Vittone's designs for openwork domes and pendentives, those with interlaced ribs and those with perforated shells, relating them to designs by Guarino Guarini and Guarini's followers in Piedmont, including Gian Giacomo Plantery, Filippo Giovanni Battista Nicolis di Robilant, Giuseppe Gerolamo Buniva, and Mario Ludovico Quarini, as well as to designs by Fontana, Fischer von Erlach, Juvarra, and other academicians. Chapter Five relates Vittone's openwork domes to quadratura painting, itself a form of sacred theater that relies on perspectival foreshortening and other optical devices. It considers also the Neo-Platonic and hermetic strains of Vittone's architectural thought and the debt it owed to the ideas of Emanuele Tesauro, Paolo Segneri, Daniello Bartoli, and other Jesuits, as well as to the hagiographies and writings of various medieval saints, including St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Clare of Assisi.
dissertation or thesis