The ideas of the baroque organization of large spaces were associated with the creation of ensembles of squares with fountains, obelisks, perspectives of streets, alleys, gardens and parks, decorated with cascades of fountains, reservoirs and statues. Until that time, integral architectural ensembles were formed in stages – new ones were gradually added to existing buildings.
The newest features of Baroque architecture were most fully manifested in the monuments of the “eternal city” of Rome, in terms of the scale of construction with which no city in Italy could then compete. Here strict Antiquity and luxurious Baroque intertwined in the most incredible way. The famous art historian P. P. Muratov wrote about this in the book “Images of Italy”:
“Baroque predominates in Rome. The palaces and churches built in this style constitute an unchanging and typical feature of the city. It is necessary to look for Rome antique, Christian, medieval, Renaissance Rome. But there is nothing to look for in Baroque Rome – it is still the Rome that each of us recognizes first of all. Everything that determines the character of the city – its most notable buildings, main squares, lively streets – all this is created here in the Baroque style, and everything faithfully preserves its stamp. “
The characteristic features of the Italian Baroque found their most striking embodiment in the work of Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), who personifies an entire era in the development of architecture. “After Michelangelo, there was no other such gigantic figure and bright talented individual as Lorenzo Bernini in Italian art history,” wrote P. P. Muratov. He became famous not only as a talented architect and sculptor, but also as a painter, comedian, director of enchanting performances, actor, creator of the most complex theatrical scenery. At the age of 25, he already became a celebrity, worked on the formation of the architectural appearance of Rome, carried out countless orders from the Vatican. Contemporaries were amazed by the grandiosity of the plans and the boldness of their implementation, the extraordinary capacity for work and the delicate artistic taste of the great master, rightfully called the “genius of the baroque”The architect’s creative manner was distinguished by elegance combined with precise mathematical calculations, masterful work with the texture of stone, and the use of optical effects.
The main architectural creation of Lorenzo Bernini was the decoration of the square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. The architect had to solve several problems at once: to create a solemn approach to the main church of the Catholic world, to achieve the impression of the unity of the square and the cathedral, which had been built over two centuries by different architects. The square was supposed to express the main idea of the Catholic Church: to embrace the city and the whole world. In addition, it had to be easily transformed into a colossal stage for ceremonies. The architect Bernini masterfully managed to cope with the tasks.
He turned the space in front of the temple into a single ensemble of two squares. The first is in the form of a trapezoid, decorated with galleries extending directly from the walls of the cathedral. The second is made in the favorite baroque form – the oval. It faces the city and is framed by a magnificent colonnade. “Like outstretched wings,” as Bernini himself said, she easily and gracefully covered the area, imperceptibly involving spectators into her space. The majestic facade of the cathedral appeared before the viewer gradually, revealing to him its solemn and noble outlines.
In the center of the huge square (its depth is 280 m), an obelisk has been erected, on both sides of which there are two fountains fixing its transverse axis. In the construction of the colonnade, Bernini fully showed his talent as an architect: accurate mathematical calculations, an impeccable sense of scale, and the ability to organize space. The monumental columns of the Tuscan order (19 m high) are arranged in four rows.
All of them are united by a curving balustrade ribbon, on which there are 96 statues of saints. Lorenzo Bernini also worked hard on creating the internal architectural appearance of St. Peter’s Cathedral.