Mellini Chapel (Santa Maria del Popolo)
The Mellini or Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Chapel is the third chapel on the left-hand side of the nave in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. The chapel contains several funeral monuments of the members of the Mellini family among them the works of Alessandro Algardi and Pierre-Étienne Monnot; the first patron of the chapel was a celebrated jurist, Pietro Mellini who belonged to a noble and ancient Roman family. The chapel, dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, is one of the original 15th-century hexagonal side chapels of the basilica, it has been the funeral place of the Mellini family for centuries. It had two monumental Renaissance tombs facing each other, made for Cardinal Giovanni Battista Mellini and his brother, Pietro around 1478-83. A similar arrangement is still visible in other side chapels of the basilica; the appearance of the chapel was fundamentally changed when it was rebuilt by Cardinal Giovanni Garzia Mellini in the 1620s in Baroque style. The whole interior was covered with white and gold stuccos, the vault was decorated with frescos depicting scenes from the life of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino by a Florentine artist, Giovanni da San Giovanni, paid 130 scudi "as the rest and final installment of payment for the several works done" on 27 October 1627.
The main altar was consecrated in 1628. The previous Renaissance tombs were dismantled to make way for the monumental Baroque sepulchres of Cardinal Giovanni Garzia Mellini in the 1630s and Cardinal Savio Mellini in the 1690s. In the middle of the 18th century the chapel was restored again and the main altarpiece was replaced by a similar painting of Agostino Masucci; the frescos of the vault were covered with a new cycle of paintings. These were removed in 1992-1993 when the original frescos of Giovanni da San Giovanni were revealed and restored by Bruno Zanardi except one scene where the 18th-century layer was retained; the interior of the chapel is covered with a rich white and gold stucco decoration which extends over the outer surface of the entrance arch. The original Renaissance half-columns were embellished with Ionic stucco capitals with festoons and angel heads; the keystone of the arch is an escutcheon with crossed branches of lilies, a star and bread rolls, flanked by two stucco half-figures holding garlands of fruit.
The soffit of the entrance arch is decorated with angel heads, the dove of the Holy Ghost and decorative relief panels. The main altarpiece shows The Virgin with Saint Nicholas of Tolentino; the huge Baroque painting is a late work of Agostino Masucci, a successful follower of Carlo Maratta, from around 1750. It replaced a previous painting by Giovanni da San Giovanni depicting the same subject, mentioned by Giovanni Baglione in his 1642 biography of Italian artists; the young Saint Nicholas of Tolentino is dressed as an Agustinian friar in black habit, kneeling before an altar with hands clasped in prayer. He is presented to the Virgin by Saint Agustine wearing a mitre; the Virgin has descended from heaven on a throne of clouds poised above the altar, she is accompanied by a retinue of putti, one of them holding a branch of lilies, the traditional attribute of Saint Nicholas. The older female saint behind the Virgin could be identified as Agustine's mother. "The style with which the artist expresses himself in the realization of this work is noble and solemn.
The figures are exalted by the monumentality of the upwards perspective and the wide gestures", wrote Maria Grazia Branchetti. The altarpiece is framed by a sumptuous gold and white stucco aedicule with fluted Corinthian columns and a segmented, broken pediment, crowned by the symbol of the Holy Spirit, a shell with garlands of fruit and two putti; the frieze has a decoration of acanthus tendrils and two winged mythological figurines flanking a six-pointed star. The antependium of the altar is a modern stone slab with a bronze relief of Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio made by Goffredo Verginelli; the frescos on the vault display The Story of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino painted by Giovanni da San Giovanni in 1623-27. The scenes are set in a richly detailed white and gold stucco frame and the eight panels are crowned with angel heads and ribbons; the central octagonal panel illusionistically opens toward the sky like an oculus. The original frescos of Giovanni da San Giovanni were hidden under the coarse 18th-century repainting until 1993.
Although they were brought to light, the paintings remain in a precarious state and many of the finer details and the original colours were irretrievably lost. The 7 scenes are as follows: 1) Episode from the life of Saint Nicholas 2) Death of Saint Nicholas 3) Saint Nicholas revives two roasted pigeons 4) Temptation of Saint Nicholas 5) Saint Nicholas distributes bread rolls to the sick 6) Saint Nicholas transforms the bread into roses 7) A miracle of Saint Nicholas The frescos depict two of the gentle miracles that made the Augustinian saint so beloved through the ages. Once when he was ill, the prior insisted that he should eat some meat although Nicholas was a vegetarian, he obeyed and touched the roast pigeons on the plate but the birds came to life and flew away. Another time he was caught by the prior taking too much food to the poor, but the bread hidden in his sleeves turned into
Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It is located 50km south of Madrid in the town of Aranjuez, it was established around the time. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government. Thereafter, the court wintered in Madrid. Several international treaties were signed there and several members of the royal family died there, including: 1568 Elizabeth of Valois queen consort of Philip II 1758 Barbara of Portugal queen consort of Ferdinand VI 1766 Elisabeth Farnese the widow of Philip V 1806 Maria Antonia of Naples first wife of Ferdinand VII the Felon 1818 Maria Isabel of Portugal second wife of Ferdinand VII 1828 Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony third wife of Ferdinand VIIIn 1931, during the Second Spanish Republic, the area was declared an Artistic Historical Monument and opened to the public; the palace and associated buildings are part of the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Cultural Organization in 2001. It is open to the public as one of several Spanish royal sites in the Community of Spain.
Management is entrusted to the Spanish Patrimonio Nacional, which does not allow private photography of its interior for security reasons. However, licenses may be available for specific purposes upon application; the area around Aranjuez enjoys a mild climate, a verdant and varied landscape with excellent game hunting and has long been inhabited. In the 12th century the Order of Santiago created an exclusive hunting reserve alongside the river Tagus near its junction with the river Jarama, its history as a royal site began in the 16th century, when the order's grandmaster Lorenzo I Suárez de Figueroa directed the construction of a grand hunting lodge designed for the recreation of members of the order and their royal and noble patrons, known as the Raso de Estrella The site today is an open festival park. In 1523 Charles I of Spain took possession of the area, designated Real Bosque y Casa de Aranjuez, in order to entertain his guests during the springtime hunting season. In 1551, he established a botanical garden to catalog the newly catalogueed species of plants brought from the Americas.
Due to distractions elsewhere, this mission was not successful. Philip II became aware of the fertile meadows of Aranjuez, designated that a portion of land to the north of the river Tagus should be devoted to pottager and general agriculture in 1561. In an adjacent plot to the south of the river, the King began construction of the first palace, on the same site as the existing building. Philip engaged the services of architect Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera, they ere responsible for the palace of The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo. After Philip's death in 1598, the works were still in progress with only the royal apartments, the chapel, the south tower and part of the western facade completed. An economic and political crisis and the fall of the royal house of Habsburg resulted in the project being abandoned. In 1700, the first Bourbon king of Spain, Philip V, decided to resume the work, intending to make Aranjuez a rival to the grand palace of Versailles. Subsequently, this imposing style would be applied to La Granja de San Ildefonso.
Philip V added a new north tower, completed the west facade and defined the structure that would shape the current palace. Little used, in the palace was destroyed by fire in 1748. Ferdinand VI rebuilt the palace. Although still respecting the original foundations, the new structure was to reflect the prevailing late baroque style and 18th century aesthetic, of an imposing and ostentatious exterior accommodating a series of sumptuously furnished spaces within; the building is due to Charles III in his reforming work for the capital city and modernization of the Spanish state. The architect of the modern palace was the Italian Francesco Sabatini, he designed the two west wings, which provide the main building enclosing the courtyard, thus defining three sides of the cour d'honneur square that faces the original entrance. It is near the Raso de Estrella at the confluence of the two rivers. At one end of this complex was the chapel and opposite was designated as a theater, although it was never completed.
The decoration was enriched in the 19th centuries with paintings by various artists. Many of these unique pieces adorn the halls and spaces; the Salón de Porcelana was the favorite retreat of Charles III. Charles III took refuge there from Spanish politics for some time following the Esquilache Riots, he chose Aranjuez to be his spring and summer residence at a period of history when the Royal Court used to move from Madrid in the spring and did not return to the capital until October. The King embraced physiocracy. Charles, who enjoyed the palace and its rural environment, established the Cortijo de San Isidro as an experimental farm and divided the palace gardens into the intimate Jardín del Parterre and the wider Jardín de la Isla, he held lavish parties and sometimes sailed along stretches of the Tagus in rich artistically decorated and golden painted Falúas. Charles' son, Charles IV and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma erected a pavilion known as the Casa del Labrador, which
Attila called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns and Alans among others, in Central and Eastern Europe. During his reign, he was one of the most feared enemies of the Eastern Roman Empires, he plundered the Balkans, but was unable to take Constantinople. His unsuccessful campaign in Persia was followed in 441 by an invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire, the success of which emboldened Attila to invade the West, he attempted to conquer Roman Gaul, crossing the Rhine in 451 and marching as far as Aurelianum before being defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. He subsequently was unable to take Rome, he planned for further campaigns against the Romans, but died in 453. After Attila's death, his close adviser, Ardaric of the Gepids, led a Germanic revolt against Hunnic rule, after which the Hunnic Empire collapsed. There is no surviving first-hand account of Attila's appearance, but there is a possible second-hand source provided by Jordanes, who cites a description given by Priscus.
He was a man born into the world to shake the nations, the scourge of all lands, who in some way terrified all mankind by the dreadful rumors noised abroad concerning him. He was haughty in his walk, rolling his eyes hither and thither, so that the power of his proud spirit appeared in the movement of his body, he was indeed a lover of war, yet restrained in action, mighty in counsel, gracious to suppliants and lenient to those who were once received into his protection. Short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head. Many scholars have argued. Omeljan Pritsak considered Ἀττίλα a composite title-name which derived from Turkic *es, *t il, the suffix /a/.:444 The stressed back syllabic til assimilated the front member es, so it became *as.:444 It is a nominative, in form of attíl- with the meaning "the oceanic, universal ruler".:444 J. J. Mikkola connected it with Turkic āt.:216 As another Turkic possibility, H. Althof considered it was related to Turkish atli, or Turkish at and dil.:216 Maenchen-Helfen argues that Pritsak's derivation is "ingenious but for many reasons unacceptable",:387 while dismissing Mikkola's as "too farfetched to be taken seriously".:390 M. Snædal notes that none of these proposals has achieved wide acceptance.:215-216 Criticizing the proposals of finding Turkic or other etymologies for Attila, Doerfer notes that King George VI of England had a name of Greek origin, Süleyman the Magnificent had a name of Arabic origin, yet that does not make them Greeks or Arabs: it is therefore plausible that Attila would have a name not of Hunnic origin.:31-32 Historian Hyun Jin Kim, has argued that the Turkic etymology is "more probable".:30M.
Snædal, in a paper that rejects the Germanic derivation but notes the problems with the existing proposed Turkic etymologies, argues that Attila's name could have originated from Turkic-Mongolian at, adyy/agta and Turkish atli, meaning "possessor of geldings, provider of warhorses".:216-217 The historiography of Attila is faced with a major challenge, in that the only complete sources are written in Greek and Latin by the enemies of the Huns. Attila's contemporaries left many testimonials of his life, but only fragments of these remain.:25 Priscus was a Byzantine diplomat and historian who wrote in Greek, he was both a witness to and an actor in the story of Attila, as a member of the embassy of Theodosius II at the Hunnic court in 449. He was biased by his political position, but his writing is a major source for information on the life of Attila, he is the only person known to have recorded a physical description of him, he wrote a history of the late Roman Empire in eight books covering the period from 430 to 476.
Today we have only fragments of Priscus' work, but it was cited extensively by 6th-century historians Procopius and Jordanes,:413 in Jordanes' The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. It contains numerous references to Priscus's history, it is an important source of information about the Hunnic empire and its neighbors, he describes the Hunnic people for a century after Attila's death. Marcellinus Comes, a chancellor of Justinian during the same era describes the relations between the Huns and the Eastern Roman Empire.:30Numerous ecclesiastical writings contain useful but scattered information, sometimes difficult to authenticate or disto
Francesco Borromini, byname of Francesco Castelli, was an Italian architect born in today's Ticino who, with his contemporaries Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona, was a leading figure in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture. A keen student of the architecture of Michelangelo and the ruins of Antiquity, Borromini developed an inventive and distinctive, if somewhat idiosyncratic, architecture employing manipulations of Classical architectural forms, geometrical rationales in his plans and symbolic meanings in his buildings, he seems to have had a sound understanding of structures, which Bernini and Cortona, who were principally trained in other areas of the visual arts, lacked. His soft lead drawings are distinctive, he appears amassing a large library by the end of his life. His career was constrained by his personality. Unlike Bernini who adopted the mantle of the charming courtier in his pursuit of important commissions, Borromini was both melancholic and quick in temper which resulted in him withdrawing from certain jobs, his death was by suicide.
Because his work was idiosyncratic, his subsequent influence was not widespread but is apparent in the Piedmontese works of Camillo-Guarino Guarini and, as a fusion with the architectural modes of Bernini and Cortona, in the late Baroque architecture of Northern Europe. Critics of the Baroque, such as Francesco Milizia and the English architect Sir John Soane, were critical of Borromini's work. From the late nineteenth century onwards, interest has revived in the works of Borromini and his architecture has become appreciated for its inventiveness. Borromini was born at Bissone, near Lugano in the Ticino, at the time a bailiwick of the Swiss Confederacy, he began his career as a stonemason himself. He soon went to Milan to practice his craft, he moved to Rome in 1619 and started working for Carlo Maderno, his distant relative, at St. Peter's and also at the Palazzo Barberini; when Maderno died in 1629, he and Pietro da Cortona continued to work on the palace under the direction of Bernini. Once he had become established in Rome, he changed his name from Castelli to Borromini, a name deriving from his mother's family and also out of regard for St Charles Borromeo.
In 1634, Borromini received his first major independent commission to design the church and monastic buildings of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Situated on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, the complex was designed for the Spanish Trinitarians, a religious order; the monastic buildings and the cloister were completed first after which construction of the church took place during the period 1638-1641 and in 1646 it was dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo. The church is considered by many to be an exemplary masterpiece of Roman Baroque architecture. San Carlino is remarkably small given its significance to Baroque architecture; the site was not an easy one. Borromini positioned the church on the corner of two intersecting roads. Although the idea for the serpentine facade must have been conceived early on in the mid-1630s, it was only constructed towards the end of Borromini's life and the upper part was not completed until after the architect's death. Borromini devised the complex ground plan of the church from interlocking geometrical configurations, a typical Borromini device for constructing plans.
The resulting effect is that the interior lower walls appear to weave in and out alluding to a cross form to a hexagonal form and to an oval form. The area of the pendentives marks the transition from the lower wall order to the oval opening of the dome. Illuminated by windows hidden from a viewer below, interlocking octagons and hexagons diminish in size as the dome rises to a lantern with the symbol of the Trinity. In the late sixteenth century, the Congregation of the Filippini rebuilt the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella in central Rome. In the 1620s, on a site adjacent to the church, the Fathers commissioned designs for their own residence and for an oratory in which to hold their spiritual exercises; these exercises combined preaching and music in a form which became immensely popular and influential on the development of the musical oratorio. The architect Paolo Maruscelli drew up plans for the site and the sacristy was begun in 1629 and was in use by 1635. After a substantial benefaction in January 1637, Borromini was appointed as architect.
By 1640, the oratory was in use, a taller and richer clock tower was accepted, by 1643, the relocated library was complete. The striking brick curved facade adjacent to the church entrance has an unusual pediment and does not correspond to the oratory room behind it; the white oratory interior has a ribbed vault and a complex wall arrangement of engaged pilasters along with freestanding columns supporting first level balconies. The altar wall was reworked at a date. Borromini’s relations with the Oratorians were fraught. By 1650, the situation came to a head and in 1652 the Oratorians appointed another architect. However, with the help of his Oratorian friend and provost Virgilio Spada, Borromini documented his own account of the building of the oratory and the residence and an illustrated vers
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2, it is the country's most populated comune, it is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber; the Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been defined as capital of two states. Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe; the city's early population originated from a mix of Latins and Sabines.
The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, is regarded by some as the first metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, the expression was taken up by Ovid and Livy. Rome is called the "Caput Mundi". After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome fell under the political control of the Papacy, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance all the popes since Nicholas V pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city.
In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city. In 2016, Rome ranked as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, the most popular tourist attraction in Italy, its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The famous Vatican Museums are among the world's most visited museums while the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in world with 7.4 million visitors in 2018. Host city for the 1960 Summer Olympics, Rome is the seat of several specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the city hosts the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean as well as the headquarters of many international business companies such as Eni, Enel, TIM, Leonardo S.p. A. and national and international banks such as Unicredit and BNL.
Its business district, called EUR, is the base of many companies involved in the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, financial services. Rome is an important fashion and design centre thanks to renowned international brands centered in the city. Rome's Cinecittà Studios have been the set of many Academy Award–winning movies. According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name Roma is believed to have come from the city's founder and first king, Romulus. However, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was derived from Rome itself; as early as the 4th century, there have been alternative theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. Several hypotheses have been advanced focusing on its linguistic roots which however remain uncertain: from Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow". There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites.
Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. Between the end of the bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age, each hill between the sea and the Capitol was topped by a village. However, none of them had yet an urban quality. Nowadays, there is a wide consensus that the city developed through the aggregation of several villages around the largest one, placed above the Palatine; this aggregation was facilitated by the increase of agricultural productivity above the subsistence level, which allowed the establishment of secondary and tertiary activities. These in turn boosted the development of trade with the Greek colonies of southern Italy; these developments, which according to archaeological ev
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or St. Peter's Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines, it has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus's Apostles and the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period, there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter's Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626. St. Peter's is famous for its liturgical functions; the Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists Michelangelo; as a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. St. Peter's is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral. St. Peter's is a church built in the Renaissance style located in the Vatican City west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian's Mausoleum, its central dome dominates the skyline of Rome.
The basilica is approached via St. Peter's Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades; the first space is the second trapezoid. The façade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres statues of the 1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul. The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture; the central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees; the interior is of vast dimensions. One author wrote: "Only does it dawn upon us – as we watch people draw near to this or that monument, strangely they appear to shrink.
This in its turn overwhelms us."The nave which leads to the central dome is in three bays, with piers supporting a barrel-vault, the highest of any church. The nave is framed by wide aisles. There are chapels surrounding the dome. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are: The Baptistery, the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin, the larger Choir Chapel, the altar of the Transfiguration, the Clementine Chapel with the altar of Saint Gregory, the Sacristy Entrance, the Altar of the Lie, the left transept with altars to the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas, the altar of the Sacred Heart, the Chapel of the Madonna of Column, the altar of Saint Peter and the Paralytic, the apse with the Chair of Saint Peter, the altar of Saint Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of St. Petronilla, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella, the right transept with altars of Saint Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, Saint Wenceslas, the altar of St. Jerome, the altar of Saint Basil, the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour, the larger Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Chapel of Saint Sebastian and the Chapel of the Pietà.
At the heart of the basilica, beneath the high altar, is the Confessio or Chapel of the Confession, in reference to the confession of faith by St. Peter, which led to his martyrdom. Two curving marble staircases lead to this underground chapel at the level of the Constantinian church and above the purported burial place of Saint Peter; the entire interior of St. Peter's is lavishly decorated with marble, architectural sculpture and gilding; the basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo's Pietà; the central feature is a baldachin, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The apse culminates in a sculptural ensemble by Bernini, containing the symbolic Chair of Saint Peter. One observer wrote: "St Peter's Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at the
Ercole Ferrata was an Italian sculptor of the Roman Baroque. A native of Pellio Inferiore, near Como, Ferrata apprenticed with Alessandro Algardi, became one of his prime assistants; when his mentor died and another pupil, Domenico Guidi, completed Algardi's unfinished Vision of Saint Nicholas at San Nicola da Tolentino. While Ferrata's initial work still owes much to Algardi, Ferrata distanced himself from the classical serenity found in the work of his mentor and Francois Duquesnoy, moved towards the expressive emotionalism of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, he is best known for two works in Sant'Agnese in Agone in Rome, the Bernini-inspired The Death of St. Agnes as well as the marble relief Stoning of St Emerenziana; the latter has a restraint influenced by his mentor, although the superior half was completed by one of his pupils, Leonardo Retti in 1689-1709. Under the leadership of Bernini, he sculpted the Angel with a Cross for the Ponte Sant'Angelo and completed the elephant statue holding the obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
Early in his career he worked with Giuliano Finelli in Naples. He made the statue of Saint Catherine of Siena for the Chigi Chapel in the Duomo di Siena. With Francesco Aprile he sculpted Sant'Anastasia in Santa Anastasia in Rome, another statue resembling Bernini's famous dying Beata Ludovica Albertoni. In 1673, when Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany established an informal academy in the Villa Madama in Rome, to give promising students an opportunity to study from antiquities, he placed it under the direction of Ercole Ferrata and the painter Ciro Ferri, collaborating with Pietro da Cortona in frescoes for Palazzo Pitti. In 1677, when the Grand Duke arranged to get his antique sculptures released from Rome, Ercole Ferrata was recalled to Florence to unpack and see to them. "A rather colourless, plodding sculptor whose gifts were best displayed in executing or imitating the conceptions of more imaginative artists, Ferrata nonetheless enjoyed a deserved reputation as an authority on the antique".
When a headless torso had been discovered a few years during the opening of a new road to the Santa Maria in Vallicella, the order of the Oratorians who owned the torso sent it to be "restored" by Ercole Ferrata, who created the Faun Carrying a Kid, which after purchase by Queen Christina, was sold in 1724 to Philip V of Spain. Ferrata is less known for the documented fact that he provided the elegant arms for the Venus de' Medici. "He showed remarkable flair in making just the kind of attractive additions to a mutilated statue which most appealed to connoisseurs", according to Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny. He worked along with Bernini creating a much admired fountain for the gardens palace of the Count of Ericeira in Lisbon - lost along with the palace, great library and art collection due to the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Of the generation after Bernini and Algardi, which included Domenico Guidi and Antonio Raggi, Ferrata led the most successful studio for training sculptors.
Ferrata's pupils included the Florentine Foggini as well as Caffà, who acted as Ercole's studio assistant. In addition he trained Leonardo Retti, Francesco Aprile, Michele Maglia, Filippo Carcani, Giuseppe Mazzuoli, Lorenzo Ottoni, Giuseppe Rusnati. Among his last pupils was Camillo Rusconi, who moved to Rome in 1686 to work in Ferrata's studio. Ercole Ferrata died at Rome in 1686. Haskell, Francis. Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Ancient Sculpture 1500-1900. Yale University Press. Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture Italy, 1600-1750. Penguin Books. Page at Web Gallery of Art Page at Artcyclopedia