Raphael - Architecture

Architecture

After Bramante's death in 1514, Raphael was named architect of the new St Peter's. Most of his work there was altered or demolished after his death and the acceptance of Michelangelo's design, but a few drawings have survived. It appears his designs would have made the church a good deal gloomier than the final design, with massive piers all the way down the nave, "like an alley" according to a critical posthumous analysis by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. It would perhaps have resembled the temple in the background of The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.

He designed several other buildings, and for a short time was the most important architect in Rome, working for a small circle around the Papacy. Julius had made changes to the street plan of Rome, creating several new thoroughfares, and he wanted them filled with splendid palaces.

An important building, the Palazzo Aquila for Leo's Papal Chamberlain Giovanni Battista Branconio, was completely destroyed to make way for Bernini's piazza for St. Peter's, but drawings of the facade and courtyard remain. The facade was an unusually richly decorated one for the period, including both painted panels on the top story (of three), and much sculpture on the middle one.

The main designs for the Villa Farnesina were not by Raphael, but he did design, and paint, the Chigi Chapel for the same patron, Agostino Chigi, the Papal Treasurer. Another building, for Pope Leo's doctor, the Palazzo di Jacobo da Brescia, was moved in the 1930s but survives; this was designed to complement a palace on the same street by Bramante, where Raphael himself lived for a time.

The Villa Madama, a lavish hillside retreat for Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, later Pope Clement VII, was never finished, and his full plans have to be reconstructed speculatively. He produced a design from which the final construction plans were completed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Even incomplete, it was the most sophisticated villa design yet seen in Italy, and greatly influenced the later development of the genre; it appears to be the only modern building in Rome of which Palladio made a measured drawing.

Only some floor-plans remain for a large palace planned for himself on the new via Giulia in the rione of Regola, for which he was accumulating the land in his last years. It was on an irregular island block near the river Tiber. It seems all facades were to have a giant order of pilasters rising at least two storeys to the full height of the piano nobile, "a gandiloquent feature unprecedented in private palace design".

In 1515 he was given powers as "Prefect" over all antiquities unearthed entrusted within the city, or a mile outside. Raphael wrote a letter to Pope Leo suggesting ways of halting the destruction of ancient monuments, and proposed a visual survey of the city to record all antiquities in an organised fashion. The Pope's concerns were not exactly the same; he intended to continue to re-use ancient masonry in the building of St Peter's, but wanted to ensure that all ancient inscriptions were recorded, and sculpture preserved, before allowing the stones to be reused.

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