Baroque and Beyond C. 1600–1850

Baroque Italy and France

What is the Church of II Gesù?

Built in the late sixteenth century by Giacomo della Porta, the Church of Il Gesù has what is considered to be the first baroque façade in architecture. The church was built in Rome for the Order of the Jesuits. Its plan was similar to the traditional cruciform basilica-plan, with a long nave and aisles. It was topped with a cupola, a small dome. More shocking at the time was the church’s exterior. The fagade is divided into two stories and blends Roman, Greek, and Renaissance architectural motifs such as doubled pilasters, engaged columns, arched pediments, triangular pediments, niches, windows, Corinthian capitals, and large, scrolling volutes. Despite the many disparate elements, the church fagade is not overwhelming or chaotic. Patterns emerge to create a rich, unified space. The ornamental fagade of the Church of Il Gesù greatly inspired the elaborate architecture of the baroque period.


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