San Pietro in Montorio, the Tempietto, and the Villa Farnesina

These three main sights formed the game plan for our first set of sight visits. And if it seems like a lot to get done in 3 ½ hours then you’d certainly be right!  A lot of people were on the fence about which classes to take, but I simply can’t see after having seen these sights how any of them decided to drop the course!

We could easily have devoted the entire day to any of the three sites.  With this in mind, I was very impressed with our professor on the trip. He was able to give interesting information in a way that made it easy to listen to him, view the work, and take notes all at the same time.

Here’s the outer façade of the Basilica della San Pietro in Montorio. I won’t go into that much detail to bore everyone, but I thought it was pretty sweet. If I had just gone to look I would have thought: simple, bright, that’s nice and moved on. But with all the background information and the detailed looks we gave the structure, I actually became really impressed with the church (which is funny because I didn’t think I was that into Early Ren.).

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Inside we focused on this nice by Sebastiano which showed ridiculously good proportions/ use of light.  If you opened the church door, the sun shining through would create the shadows that he had included in the work.  Shivers!  This guy also made up his own technique using oils on top of plaster that no one else could ever figure out. What a bad ass.

Image(Not my picture, it was impossible to take one in the church because the fresco is so glossy)

In the courtyard of the church is what is called the Tempietto (Little Temple), but our professor made a compelling case on why it should instead be called a Matyrium in honor of Saint Peter’s martyrdom.  The columns were actual ancient ones which were mad hard to find in matching sets when Bramante built it in the very early 16th century.  Apparently, Bramante may have been inspired to create a Roman version of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  He wouldn’t have seen the original, but the Dome of the Rock was often misidentified on ‘maps’  as the H.S.. So a mosque probably inspired the design of a Christian martyrium-I like that.

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Thirdly, we walked to the Villa Farnesina.  The excessively wealthy banker (seriously, he basically bought his way into the pope adopting him into his family because he had the most money of anyone, anywhere) Chigi commissioned Peruzzi to create the country villa pretty much contemporary with the Tempietto’s inception (around 1505ish? It’s hard to date).  Although it’s now in the middle of the city, back in the day Trastevere used to be in the wilds outside of Rome.  Pope Julius II made a road way out there and asked his friends to buy up the surrounding property. Chigi was like sure, I could use some otium in my life.

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Chigi, clever businessman that he was, hired competing artists in order to get them to really make the best products possible. Sebastiano and Raphael’s mutual hatred led to this stunning fresco which depicts Galatea rushing away from the Cyclops Polyphemus.  I won’t geek out about it, but I just have to mention her gaze.  Many people claim that she’s supposedly looked back at Polyphemus, but that does not make any sense when you actually look at her. Instead, she’s looking above at an Eros in the clouds.  Chigi had the scene painted when he believed himself about to be married.  The gaze between Galatea and the eros is supposed to speak of divine love-the joining of two souls-as opposed to the carnal love going on around him.  Awwww. This shows Raphael trying to show off as an artist, not just as artisan (as painters had been viewed throughout history pretty much til then).

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The ceiling of this room (the garden loggia) was covered with myths from the constellations in the night sky on the night at the time Chigi was born. I particularly liked the main piece:

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This Friday our class is going to the Vatican! More then!