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Bernini and the bell towers : architecture and politics at the Vatican /
Sarah McPhee.
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2002.
xi, 353 p. : ill. (some col.), plans, facsims. ; 29 cm.
0300089821 (alk. paper)
More Details
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2002.
0300089821 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 333-345) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Sarah McPhee is associate professor of art history at Emory University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-04-01:
Perhaps best known for his design of the Piazza di San Pietro (1656-67), with its elliptical space and converging colonnades, Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) left a body of theatrical architecture in Rome that epitomized the Baroque and its relation to the reassertion of the Vatican by the Counter-Reformation. In 1638, he began the design and construction of twin bell towers for St. Peter's basilica. When the first tower caused structural damage in the part of the building supporting it, Bernini's reputation suffered, and the tower was removed. Using the present tense, the author relates the architectural history and political struggles of the story with dramatic flair. The final chapter, "Twin Towers," is an insightful set of observations on the pervasive influence in Rome of Bernini's prototype: matching towers used in conjunction with a central, ribbed dome. Despite a tendency toward redundancy within paragraphs and the occasional absence of a floor plan, this first book by McPhee (art history, Emory Univ.), which boasts ample documentation and handsome illustrations, is suitable for larger architecture collections with strengths in Baroque art and architecture.-Paul Glassman, New York Sch. of Interior Design (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2004-04-01:
This superb study of the complicated history of the great architect Gianlorenzo Bernini's ill-fated bell towers atop St. Peter's basilica in Rome is a triumph even if the towers were not. McPhee (Emory Univ.) describes the whole undertaking in detail including the entire history of the new basilica's building in the 16th and early 17th centuries by Michelangelo and Maderna. Admirably documented at every stage, the account includes both familiar and lesser-known illustrations in black and white and in color. Naturally, McPhee focuses on the towers and their design and the varied reasons for their failure, including limitations of rural architects, financial and political constraints of the building committee, ambitions of the pope, and geology of the site and the complex history of the basilica's design by various architects. For the first time the history of the towers is told in detail and their failure is assigned not to Bernini but to the Vatican's concern with liturgical and political imperatives. This complete and wide-ranging work includes every aspect of the towers including their influence on later buildings throughout Europe. An outstanding study. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. T. J. McCormick emeritus, Wheaton College (MA)
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, April 2003
Choice, April 2004
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Bowker Data Service Summary
In 1638, Gianlorenzo Bernini began the ambitious architectural project of designing and constructing massive twin bell towers atop St. Peter's basilica. But the project failed spectacularly. This volume tells the story of the bell towers, presenting both visual and documentary evidence.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. IX
Abbreviationsp. XI
Introductionp. I
Paul V, Carlo Maderno, and the Bell Towers of St. Peter'sp. 5
Bernini's Bell Towerp. 36
Innocent X, Virgilio Spada, and the Cardinals of the Congregationp. 82
Virgilio Spada, Francesco Borromini, and the Foundations of St. Peter'sp. 95
The Fabbrica of St. Peter's: Families, Function, Politicsp. 121
Competition or Consultation? The Real Contenders and the Evolution of the Designp. 136
Truth and Timep. 165
Twin Towersp. 190
Documentsp. 213
Catalogue of Drawingsp. 263
Notesp. 295
Works Citedp. 333
Indexp. 347
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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