Revolutionary genius with a tireless and concrete mind, and Father of the Neoclassical Architecture. He was admired by everyone, and envied by many.
Auth: Salvatore Scarfone
Luigi Vanvitelli (Naples, 1700 - Caserta, 1773) was an architect, engineer, scenographer and italian painter. Born from by famous landscape artist Gaspar van Wittel, he soon became popular due to his outstanding artistic talents, so as to immediately receive the praises by Filippo Juvarra, one of the main baroque architects.
He deeply renewed the architecture, he had many students, imitators and followers, so many that in time his style spread so much in Italy and Europe, to create a new style: the neoclassical architecture.
He created and restored many buildings throughout Italy. His remarkable abilities made him become the main architect of the Pope, but this attracted jealousies and dislikes. In Rome, among many works, there was also the securing of the dome of St. Peter.
The new king of Naples, Charles of Bourbon , to create the new nerve centre of his reign, asked to Vanvitelli to design the new city of Caserta, including the Royal Palace as its centerpiece. Its project, immediately printed and distributed across Europe, obtained great admiration by the sovereigns, and this admiration atttracted to him dislikes and even bullying.
After his death in 1773, the works of the Royal Palace were keeped on by his son Carlo.
Luigi Vanvitelli, a personality that is difficult to be limited within a specific style or artistic current, as it is no more fully Baroque, but at the same time a forerunner of the following style, the Neoclassical one.
So he was a transitional figure, in an era of profound social changes and thought, living the transition from the absolute monarchy, to the enlightened one. Vanvitelli fully reflect these contradictions, summarizing and integrating them into his personality.
Luigi Vanvitelli was born Lodewijk van Wittel ( Naples , 12 May 1700 - Caserta , 1 March 1773 ), was a painter and an italian architect.
Born from a family of artists originally from Amersfoort ( Netherlands ), his original surname (van Wittel) was Italianate in Vanvitelli from his father Gaspard van Wittel ( Gaspare Vanvitelli ), who emigrated to Rome in 1674 , you played as a painter until 1736, becoming the initiator of landscape painting.
Luigi Vanvitelli began his career as a painter, following the example of his father, and later dedicated to architecture and become one of the most important Italian architects of the period between Baroque and Neoclassicism.
Student of the little-known Antonio Valeri , Vanvitelli was inspired by the work of some great architects of the Baroque , as Gian Lorenzo Bernini , Francesco Borromini , Carlo Fontana , Filippo Juvarra and studied thoroughly treated and the works of the architects of antiquity and the Renaissance . In the years of education formed a lasting friendship and collaboration with Nicola Salvi and was affiliated to the Academy of Arcadia .
It is pointed out as an architect participating in the competitions for the main facade of San Giovanni in Laterano and the Trevi Fountain , contests that would mark the rebirth of the art state of the Church under the enlightened rule of Pope Clement XII ; projects Vanvitelli, who went to meet the new trends in neoclassical, were highly prized in the most educated, but the jury saw fit to reward projects which supported the Baroque style in Rome yet fully dominant.
The opinion about Versailles
While working in Ancona, Vanvitelli often returned to Rome worried about his father's health, who had already completely lost one eye in an attempt to remove a cataract. On September 13, 1736, at the age of eighty-three, Gaspar died. Three months later, on December 16, his wife followed him to the grave. The following year, in 1737, Luigi married Olimpia Starich, daughter of an accountant from the S. Pietro factory. From their marriage were born:
- Carlo in 1739. He became an architect, and continued the works of the Royal Palace after the death of his father;
- Pietro in 1741; Francesco in 1745. They became military architects, and followed King Charles of Bourbon, when he moved to Spain to become King in place of his half-brother Ferdinand VI who died in 1759.
- Gaspar in 1743. He became a magistrate in Naples;
- Thomas in 1744; died one month old;
- Anna Maria in 1747, who died at the age of 5;
- Maria Cecilia in 1748. In 1764 she married the architect Francesco Sabatini, a pupil of her father;
- Maria Palmira in 1750. In 1767 she married Giacomo Vetromile, a lawyer and Knight of the Constantinian Order.
The first important work was the one in 1728 at Urbino, with the restoration of the Albani Palace at Urbino, and the built of the chapel into the church of St. Francesco Albani.
Works in Rome
In Rome he became the architect of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican , which he held throughout his life. His is also the redesign (1750) of the church of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs , built by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the Baths of Diocletian . In 1911 the facade was demolished vanvitellian, but the inside is still the one designed by Vanvitelli. In addition, he participated unsuccessfully in the competition for the facade of San Giovanni in Laterano .
I suoi progetti, però, colpirono talmente gli esaminatori, tanto che a lui vennero affidate le opere da realizzare in Ancona: il Lazzaretto ed il Porto. Il progetto del Lazzaretto è del 1734. I lavori cominciarono subito ma si protrassero a lungo per varie difficoltà soprattutto di carattere politico locale.
Dopo molte polemiche i lavori di Ancona vennero sospesi nel 1740 per essere ripresi solo nel 1754, sul finire del pontificato di Benedetto XIV, ma affidati a Carlo Marchionni. Luigi Vanvitelli rimase molto amareggiato per non essere stato chiamato a completare l’opera, che, tuttavia, fu ultimata secondo i suoi disegni. In Ancona, intanto, aveva compiuto anche altri lavori: la Cappella delle Reliquie nella Cattedrale di S. Ciriaco nel 1739; la chiesa del Gesù nel 1743, in cui compare per la prima volta, come elemento decorativo, la conchiglia, che poi diventerà tipico del suo stile; la chiesa di S. Agostino, ormai trasformata in dormitorio della Marina, il Palazzo Bourbon del Monte, oggi Jona, ed altre fabbriche di cui s’è persa notizia.
Back to Rome
From Rome to Naples
The Royal Palace of Caserta
In 1750 the King of Naples, Charles of Bourbon took Vanvitelli in the design of a new royal palace that was designed for the city of Caserta , easily accessible from the capital , but differs from it, as it was Versailles from Paris . The palace, which was to be built near a new city (which was later made in later times, in a chaotic way, without taking into account the ideas of Vanvitelli), was supplied with water from the monumental Carolino Aqueduct , designed by Vanvitelli on the model of hydraulic works of ancient Rome .
The Reggia di Caserta , defined as the last great creation of the Italian Baroque, is surely his most important work. Curatissima in detail and covers four monumental courtyards, the building is fronted by a spectacular park that takes advantage of the natural slope of the land to be articulated in a gigantic man-made waterfall, punctuated by a series of fountains and marble statues. The most scenic parts are the whole atrium and the monumental staircase and the chapel. Remarkable is the court theater, the room where a horseshoe is rounded rather solemn made by ' giant order of columns, which conceals the typical frail wooden structure with boxes. Devoid of the four corner towers and central dome, which should have movimentarne the mole, the palace is a kind of synthesis between the original Palace of Versailles and ' Escorial .
After his death the work at the palace was continued by his son Carlo ( Naples , 1739 - 1821 ).
Prestige and bullying at the Court
Biographers remembers the works made in Macerata for Gualtiero Marefoschi; in Pesaro, where he left the construction management to his disciple Antonio Rinaldi, who after became famous at the russian court of the Tsars; in Loreto, where he completed the loggia of the Apostolic Palace, made by Bramante, and added to the monumental bell tower. Maybe he only designed the St. Vitus Church in Recanati, the Franciscan Convent in Fano, and more. While working in Ancona, in 1739 Luigi Vanvitelli was called to Perugia to build the church and convent of the Olivetan. The project, of which there are some drawings in Caserta, was later made by Murena in 1762. The restoration of the Romanesque cathedral of Foligno is the last work in Umbria. Still in Siena, however, it documents the activities for the project of the St. Augustine Church. The many commitments in the Marches, Umbria and Tuscany, however, didn't reduced his works and relations in Rome, where he was the main architect of St. Peter's. After the aqueduct of Vermicino, the most important work of which he was in charge was, in 1741, the restoration of the Jesuit Villa Tuscolana in Frascati, also called "Rufinella" from the name of Rufino Cardinal who had owned. Two years later in Civitavecchia he erected the foutain at the harbor.
Pupils and followers of the time
These were the main pupils and followers of Luigi Vanvitelli, who drew inspiration from his teaching. Those who were inspired by them and by Vanvitelli, increasing over time came get to a new architectural standard: the Neoclassical.
Marche (italian region): :
Southern Italy (except Naples and Caserta):
- Marcello Fonton
- Francesco Sabatini
- Pietro e Francesco Vanvitelli
- Laurent Benoit Dewez
Examples of works inspired by the Palace of Caserta
Observing all architectures built or modified after the publication of the Declaration of Drawings of the Royal Palace of Caserta, you can often recognize its influence. For example, the Staircase of Honour of the Royal Palace, was taken as a model for the construction of the world's most beautiful staircases. It is easy to find its style (central staircase thta splits into two lateral staircases ending in a large tripartite wall) also via a simple image search via web.