The 17th century and its artistic wonders had Rome at its centre and the baroque style represents Rome’s last stint as the world’s culture capital. The aesthetic and the language forged in the Eternal City in this epoch had a universal appeal and extended far beyond the borders of Italy: they reached most of western Europe and Latin America.
Not only sculpture and architecture reached dizzying hights of creativity in Rome but also painting and urban planning achieved extraordinary levels of excellence in this period.
Everyone can admire Rome’s baroque wonders on his own: from Piazza Navona to the countless downtown churches, from St. Peter’s square to the Borghese Gallery masterpieces.
But Rome now presents an unrepeatable occasion to look into this unique time of its history and art with four exhibitions about different aspects of the Baroque age and many guided tours that shed light on the main figures and sides of this fascinating time in Rome.
The first leg of this journey is at the very ambitious exhibition in Palazzo Cipolla by the Fondazione Roma Museo. “Baroque in Rome. The Wonder of Arts” is the ideal starting point to have a very comprehensive view of this artistic movement. Lots of painting (a crucial part of the Baroque artistic production which in general is not appreciated enough) sculptures and decorative objects that you may not notice in the middle of the incredible amount of artworks that overwhelm visitors nearly anywhere in this city. In depth captions and finely crafted exhibition set ups help you navigate the Baroque world between the year 1600 and 1680.
The main player of the transformation of Rome into a Baroque city is Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Many art and architecture works from him are in Rome, but the National Gallery of Ancient Art now features an exhibition (until May 24) of his sketches, drawings and scale models that will help you complete your knowledge of this absolute genius of art, comparable to Michelangelo. You can also compare them with Borromini’s ones, made with the pencil (the first to use it for professional works) and extremely detailed.
Right at the end of the square that embodies the Baroque tenets at its best, Piazza Navona, stands the Museum of Rome. Its halls host an exhibit of etchings of Baroque feasts in Rome. Celebrations, cerimonies and feasts were a key element of the Baroque century and here you can have a very interesting vision of what they were like, how long they lasted and how many they were. You’ll b surprised to realize that these events were a marking feature of Rome in the 17th century.
If Bernini was the #1 artist in Baroque Rome, Francesco Borromini was indisputably #2. And the Alessandrina Library in the downtown State Archive, right behind Piazza Navona, hosts from April 29 an exhibition about the Eternal City’s university “La Sapienza” as it was designed by Borromini.
GUIDED TOURS AND ITINERARIES
The “Baroque in Rome” exhibition also entails many satellite events that will help you to grasp the intellectual atmosphere of the time. Here are the 7 guided tours and itineraries that we found most interesting for our readers.
The Barberini Palace, designed by Bernini and residence of Pope Urban VIII, currently hosts the National Galery of Ancient Art with paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. An itinerary has been created to expressly highlight its Baroque masterpieces.
S. Ivo alla Sapienza not only hosts the above mentioned exhibition, but also a guided tour about Borromini’s architectural complex whose artistic, technical and symbolic values make it one of the most representative sites of Baroque Rome.
Another thematic tour unfolds in the nearby Filippini Oratory, one of Borromini’s architectural masterpieces. You will discover its rooms and the Borromini hall.
Not far from the Spanish Steps, the Kings’ Chapel in the Propaganda Fide’s Palace is where Borromini outdid his great rival Bernini building completely anew the site at the expense of Bernini’s project completely destroyed. Guided tour.
Even the Vatican Museums are part of this big project. You can book the exclusive itinerary dedicated to Bernini’s work in the Vatican, including his terracotta angels, and sites normally closed to the public like Sala Ducale and the Sala Regia.
The Doria Pamphilj painting gallery features a thematic tour about Pope Innocent X (one of the driving figures of the Baroque movement) and his city palace.
Last leg at the Capitoline Museums where an itinerary takes you through a selection of Baroque masterpieces: statues and frescoes in particular.