December 15, 1999 > February 21, 2000

15 December 1999 - 21 February 2000

Four hundred years from the birth of Francesco Borromini, the great architect is celebrated in Rome, the city that was the setting for his rigorous work. This broad retrospective examined the genial yet tormented personality of the artist, his life, training and works, documenting at the same time the brilliant and historically informative context in which he worked.
About six hundred works were exhibited, including drawings and models, views and town plans, paintings and prints, medals, portraits of clients and marble busts, artistic and applied art objects, and tools of various kinds, accompanied by a well-developed educational support system using multimedia technology.
The main core of the works on display consisted of the architect's valuable drawings, mainly stored in the Albertina in Vienna, which enabled visitors to perceive Borromini's creativity, conceptual immediacy and keenness of thought in a direct way.

The exhibition itinerary developed along a route investigating twenty-four topics: Personality and destiny (Personalità e destino), with anonymous portraits of the architect, including those kept at the Convento dei Padri Trinitari Scalzi at San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome; Wonders and knowledge (Meraviglie e sapere) with objects and instruments from the period, testifying to the architect's refined culture, such as the armillary sphere or the spiral thermometer from the Institute and Museum of History of Science in Florence; The Lombard legacy (L'eredità lombarda) with works by Bernardino Bassiani and Giovan Pietro Bianchi among others; The Roman environment and the papal court (L'ambiente romano e la corte papale), with Lievin Cruyl's views of Rome and the works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi among others; The beginnings - Maderno and Bernini (Gli esordi tra Maderno e Bernini), San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Interpretation of the orders (Interpretazione degli ordini), the Fathers of the Oratory (Oratorio dei Filippini), Ancient prototypes for the architectural poetry of Borromini (Prototipi antichi per la poetica architettonica di Borromini), The Pamphilj Forum and Piazza Navona (Il foro Pamphilj e Piazza Navona), Palazzi, San Giovanni in Laterano, The incomplete basilica and the start of Borrominism (La basilica incompiuta e la nascita del borromismo), Work on architectural enhancement (Interventi di valorizzazione architettonica), Sant'Ivo and Palazzo della Sapienza, The subject of the domes (Il tema delle cupole), Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, Propaganda Fide, Oblique architecture (Architettura obliqua), Twin doorways (Portali binati), Spatial morphology (Morfologia spaziale), From the planning to the building site (Dall'ideazione al cantiere), Opus Architectonicum, Borrominism in the late Baroque period (Borromismo nel tardo Barocco). The last section contained designs by Alessandro Specchi, Filippo Vasconi, Leopold Bauer, Nicodemus Tessin il Giovane, Bernardo Castelli-Boromini, Paolo Posi, Pietro Paolo Coccetti, Johann Conrad Schlaun and others.

Exhibition designed and planned by Richard Bösel.
Mounted by Francesco Cellini and Carlo Severati.
Catalogue edited by Richard Bösel and Christoph L. Frommel, published by Electa, Milan 2000