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Francesco Borromini 

     
     
Francesco Borromini (September 25, 1599 – August 3, 1667 in Rome) was a prominent and influential Baroque architect, and active in Rome and contemporary with the prolific papal architect and often rival, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Borromini (anonymous youth portrait).

Early life and first works
Son of stone mason Giovanni Domenico Castelli, Borromini began his career as a stone mason himself, and soon moved to Milan to study and practice this activity. He was also called "Bissone", by the place in which he was born (near Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland). When in Rome (1619) he changed his name (from Castelli to Borromini) and started working for Carlo Maderno, his distant relative, at St. Peter's. When Maderno died in 1629, he joined the group under Gian Lorenzo Bernini, completing the facade and expansions of Maderno's Palazzo Barberini.

Independent works
In 1634, his first individual commission was the reconstruction of the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (also called San Carlino). The church is named after San Carlo Borromeo, and may have prompted his name change. The small church is considered by many an iconic masterpiece of Roman baroque. Borromini avoided linear classicism and eschews a simple circular shape in favor of a corrugated oval. The church is small, complex convex-concave rhythms that disrupt the oval of the nave[1]; he "designed the walls to weave in and out as if they were formed not of stone but of pliant substance set in motion by an energetic space, carrying with them the deep entablatures, the cornices, moldings and pediments." (Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p346-7 as quoted in [2]). It is far bolder in geometric intricacy and less encrusted with figurative decorations than Bernini's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, which lies just down the street. That latter church has a sculptural drama embedded into the architecture, as a form of bel composto. In San Carlino, the drama is geometric. The undulating elements in the façade (completed late in his life), are also masterful [3].

For Sant'Agnese in Agone, he reverted the original plan of Girolamo Rainaldi (and his son Carlo Rainaldi), which previously had its main entrance on Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima. The façade was expanded to include parts of the bordering Pamphilij palace, gaining space for the two bell towers (each of which has a clock, as in St. Peter's, one for Roman time, the other for tempo ultramontano, European time).

Borromini lost this commission before completion due to the death of the Pope Innocent X in 1655. The new Pope, Alexander VII, and Prince Camillo Pamphilj recalled Rainaldi, but this one didn't change very much and the church is mainly considered a notable expression of Borromini's concepts.

Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, courtyard and façade.

Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, courtyard and façade.

From 1640-1650, he worked on the design of the church of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza and its courtyard, near University of Rome La Sapienza palace. The site, like many in cramped Rome, is challenged for external perspectives. The dome and cochlear steeple are peculiar, and reflect the idiosyncratic architectural motifs that distinguish Borromini from contemporaries. Inside, the nave has an unusual centralized plan circled by alternating concave and convex cornices, leading to a dome decorated with linear arrays of stars and putti. The fusion of feverish baroque excesses with a rationalistic geometry is an excellent match for a church in a papal institution of higher learning. He is purported to be a strong influence on the Turin architect, Camillo-Guarino Guarini.

Death and epitaph
In the summer of 1667, Borromini, suffering from nervous disorders and depression, committed suicide after the completion of the Falconieri chapel (the main chapel) in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, where he was buried [4]. The primary inscription on Borromini's tomb, in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, reads:

FRANCISCVS BORROMINI TICINENSIS
EQVES CHRISTI
QVI
IMPERITVRAE MEMORIAE ARCHITECTVS
DIVINAM ARTIS SVAE VIM
AD ROMAM MAGNIFICIS AEDIFICIIS EXORNANDAM VERTIT
IN QVIBUS
ORATORIVM PHILLIPINVM S. IVO S. AGNES IN AGONE
INSTAVRATA LATERANENSIS ARCHIBASILICA
S. ANDREAS DELLE FRATTE NVNCVPATUM
S. CAROLVS IN QVIRINALI
AEDES DE PROPADANDA FIDE
HOC AVTEM IPSVM TEMPLVM
ARA MAXIMA DECORAVIT
NON LONGE AB HOC LAPIDE
PROPE MORTALES CAROLI MADERNI EXUVVIAS
PROPINQVI MVNICIPIS ET AEMVLI SVI
IN PACE DOMINI QVIESCIT

Francesco Borromini was featured on the 100 Swiss Franc banknote current in the 1980s.

Main works
Borromini's works include:

Façade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

Façade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

Palazzo Spada, architectural trompe-l'oeil

Palazzo Spada, architectural trompe-l'oeil
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (nave, dome, and convent) 
Sant'Agnese in Agone 
Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza 
Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano 
Cappella Spada, San Girolamo della Carità (uncertain attribution) 
Palazzo Spada (trick perspective) 
Palazzo Barberini (upper-level windows and oval staircase) 
Santi Apostoli in Naples - Filamarino Altar 
Sant'Andrea delle Fratte 
Oratorio dei Filippini 
Collegio de Propaganda Fide [5] 
Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori 
San Giovanni in Oleo (restoration) 
Palazzo Giustiniani (with Carlo Fontana) 
Palazzo Falconieri 
Santa Lucia in Selci (restoration) 
Saint Peter's Basilica (gates to Blessed Sacrament Chapel and possibly parts of the baldacchino)

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