December 2, 2014

Andrea Pozzo 1650 Mural: This Ceiling Is Flat

Andrea Pozzo The St Ignatius' Church

His masterpiece, the illusory perspectives in frescoes [1] of the dome, the apse and the ceiling of Rome's Jesuit church of Sant'Ignazio (illustrations right and below) were painted between 1685–1694 and are emblematic of the dramatic conceits of High Roman Baroque. For several generations, they set the standard for the decoration of Late Baroque ceiling frescos throughhout Catholic Europe. Compare this work to Gaulli's masterpiece in the other major Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.
The church of Sant'Ignazio remained unfinished with bare ceilings even after its consecration in 1642. Disputes with the original donors, the Ludovisi, prevented the completion of the planned dome. Pozzo expediently proposed to make an illusionistic dome, when viewed from inside, by painting on canvas. It was impressive to viewers, but controversial; some feared the canvas would soon darken.
On the flat ceiling he painted an allegory of the Apotheosis of S. Ignatius, in breathtaking perspective. The painting, 17 m in diameter, is devised to make an observer, looking from a spot marked by a brass disc set into the floor of the nave, seem to see a lofty vaulted roof decorated by statues, while in fact the ceiling is flat.
".... And it's deep too."


Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 2, 2014 9:06 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Single point perspective, the most tricky to the human eye. I did a very large one that hung in the conference room of my office. It was of the front entry porch of a very nice estate home I designed. It was done in such a way that the viewer felt like he was in the middle of the entry porch as it wrapped around him. I had one client that said it made her sort of dizzy, like she was inside the picture.

Multiple point perspectives do not do this because they more realistically "capture" the moment, where as single points "create" a moment the brain is not used to seeing. Trompe l'oeil is almost always single point, or forced, perspective.

Posted by: ghostsniper at December 2, 2014 9:59 AM

Man! Who knew that a cop was able to travel back in time; and pose - leaning over the railing with his hat on and his sleeves rolled-up - long enough for Fra Andrea to capture him?
(Between the top right-side windows, above the "Africa" detail.)
I have to say, I'd never noticed him before now!

Posted by: Mal at December 2, 2014 4:12 PM

Oh my..... good eye. Another anonymous time traveler.

Posted by: Van der Leun at December 2, 2014 4:21 PM

Well, he certainly earned his money with that one. The only painter we had in my family was Uncle Letsgo, and all he painted were chicken coops. They had flat roofs as I recall.

Posted by: chasmatic at December 3, 2014 5:51 AM

"They had flat roofs as I recall."

You mean they *looked* flat after he was done. I suspect there was more to Uncle Letsgo than we realize.

Posted by: SteveS at December 3, 2014 1:12 PM

Uncle Letsgo did not talk much about his service during WWII. We know that he was away a lot and couldn't write letters.
"I do some tings for Army, dat's all" is the most he would say about it.

Years later I came across some of his things in an old footlocker he had in his attic. There was a folder with a scratchy label almost obscured by time and I could barely make out the words "Chicken Talker". The pages had been torn out, likely burned by him.
One scrap of paper remained and I could read "... one day the wind stopped blowing and all the chickens fell over ..."

Posted by: chasmatic at December 3, 2014 10:14 PM the cows that were raised on hilly terrain, when they went to the slaughterhouse they all fell over.....

Posted by: ghostsniper at December 4, 2014 9:15 AM