Francesco Borromini

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Francesco Castelli
BirthplaceBissone, Ticino, Old Swiss Confederacy

Borromini, Francesco

(fränchā`skō bōr-rōmē`nē), 1599–1677, major Italian baroque architect. His first independent commission (begun 1634) was San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, one of the masterpieces of the Roman baroque. The church is noted for its undulating rhythm of architectural elements within a basically geometric plan. In 1642 he began the designs for Sant' Ivo della Sapienza, Rome, a dynamic hexagonal structure. He was also entrusted with the reconstruction of St. John the Lateran, as well as the completion of Sant' Agnese in the Piazza Navona and Sant' Andrea della Fratte. Borromini's innovations in palace as well as church design had a tremendous influence in Italy and northern Europe.


See studies by A. Blunt (1979) and Connors (1980).

Borromini, Francesco

Italian Baroque architect who designed San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane (Illus), in Rome, in 1638 to 1671, a church in which convex and concave wall surfaces are juxtaposed both on the facade and on the interior.

Borromini, Francesco


(or F. Borromino, pseudonym of F. Castelli). Born Sept. 25, 1599, in Bissone, Switzerland; died Aug. 3, 1667, in Rome. Italian architect.

Borromini went to school in Milan. His architecture was an expressive realization and original resolution of the principles of the Baroque period (above all, a concept of the dominance of irrational forces, typical of the Baroque Weltanschauung). Borromini’s works are distinguished by spatial mobility and the restless dynamics of elastic forms, which at times deprive the buildings of plastic wholeness. Borromini made free use of the classic order; typical of his constructions are curvilinear outlining of volumes, curved walls, varied combinations of convex and concave forms, and sharpened silhouettes of the crowning parts. With unrestrained imagination, Borromini created new decorative details and complicated construction plans. He designed the churches of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1634–67), San Ivo alla Sapienza (1642–60), and Sant’Andrea delle Fratte (1656; facade, 1816); the facade of the Church of Santa Ag-nese in the Piazza Navona (1653–55); the Oratorio dei Filippine (1637–62); the Falconieri Palace (1639–41) and the Barberini Palace (1625–63; jointly with C. Maderna and L. Bernini); and other buildings in Rome. He enlarged Villa Falconieri in Frascati.


Portoghesi, P. Borromini nella cultura europea. Rome, 1964.
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If instructors choose to use this text in an undergraduate course, they might consider providing the following images for additional support: 1) a map illustrating the locations of the tribes/peoples who Iived in Italy before the Roman expansion (the so-called substrata languages) to accompany the discussion on page 5; 2) an image of the inscription of the Basilica di San Clemente, which can be found in Marazzini's La lingua italiana: Profilo storico (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2002: 178), to accompany the discussion on page 23; 3) images of the artistic manifestations of the Baroque style that are mentioned in chapter 7: the churches and palaces of Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini and the frescos of Pietro da Cortona.
In the series of rooms set atop its fortified perimeter they could enjoy a smorgasboard of 17th-century artefacts ranging from architectural drawings by Francesco Borromini to the splendid Barberini harp, commissioned in 1624.
For too long, the architectural accomplishments of Pietro Berrettini da Cortona (1597-1669), widely acknowledged as a leading painter and decorator in Rome (and Florence) from the 1630s-60s, have been eclipsed by the more spectacular achievements of his contemporaries, Gianlorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini.
The exhibition focuses on the works of Mario Botta, one of the most famous contemporary Swiss architects and Francesco Borromini, one of the most famous architects of the Italian baroque style.
Building of Palazzo Barberini began late in 1628 to designs by Carlo Maderno, but his death two months later left the execution in the hands of Bernini and his assistant, Francesco Borromini.