Francesco Borromini was radical in his architect career, and his "madness" would lead to his demise in his later years. The Italian innovator was born in Bissone, Lugano in 1599. Borromini would change his last name from Castelli in the 1620's. A young Borromini found a passion for art in learning stonecutting from his father. The young talent was sent to Milan to hone this skill.
Renowned Roman architect Carlo Maderno would influence Borromini next. The fast-learning Borromini worked on a major project at St. Peter's, enhancing his craftsman and stonecutting skills. Borromini began to develop his own style. The fresh talent spawned a unique design approach, geometric figures. Contemporary designers stuck with traditional use of human body proportions as their guide.
Beautifying the Palazzo Barberini was on deck. Maderno died in 1629. With nearly a decade of teachings from his mentor, Borromini would be forever grateful to Maderno. Borromini continued collaborations before branching off on his own. Prominent architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini headed the Palazzo Barberini project. Borromini abandoned the project under the advice of the third designer Pietro da Cortona. They simply did not work well together. Borromini and Bernini reunited and completed a canopy for St. Peter's. The bronze baldachin captures Borromini's unique style: a massive bronze S-shape with four corkscrew columns.
Francesco Borromini unprecedented artistry was controversial. Some liked his unconventional architecture. On the other hand, critics deemed his work as radical and obtrusive. Borromini's architecture involved lighting effects and over-the-top weaving patterns. With no other love of his life, Borromini became a madman. Entrenched in his masterpieces, he began to fall apart. He suffered chronic depression and hallucinations. Borromini committed suicide by falling on a sword in his home. The infamous Italian architect died in Rome in 1667, but Borromini's iconic style is very much alive in contemporary designs today.
Interview: Jake Morrissey discusses the rivalry between architects Borromini and Bernini in the building of St. Peter's Basilica
Apr 13, 2005; MADELEINE BRAND NPR Special 04-13-2005 Interview: Jake Morrissey discusses the rivalry between architects borromini and...