The vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome: 5 things to know

 Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

Vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME AND THE TRIUMPH OF ILLUSIONISTIC PAINTING: 5 THINGS TO KNOW

In 1685 Andrea Pozzo, an artist and Jesuit scholar, was commissioned to decorate the vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome.
His optical illusion effects give birth to a decoration that still today leave people speechless, and in this post you’ll find 5 things to know about the vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius made by Andrea Pozzo.

5 things to know about the vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome

Detail of the fresco of the Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

1. WHEN THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME WAS MADE

When in 1685 the artist and Jesuit scholar Andrea Pozzo was commissioned to create the decoration of the vault of Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, he made one of the most important frescoes of Baroque.
The artist, in fact, was able to create a space that doesn’t actually exist, inside which a series of figures revolve around the figure of Saint Ignatius.

2. DESCRIPTION OF THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME

In the centre of the vault we see the meeting between Saint Ignatius and Christ, in a very distant point from the observer, and in a space that seems to go beyond the sky.
From the Saint, in addition, rays of light which are reflected by mirrors go down, so that they can light the fire on the Earth.
All around a multitude of figures sat on the architectural frame and allegorical representation of all four continents where the Society of Jesus carried out its mission: Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

3. THE GEOMETRIC CONSTRUCTION OF THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME

The composition of the vault of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Rome is designed according to geometry. According to documents, we know, in fact, that at night the painter projected a series of lines on the wall to be frescoed, by using threads that were lit on purpose so that their shadows were visible on the vault.
In this way Pozzo was able to create the illusion that the ceiling is broken down and spectators seem to look at a supernatural scene.
This work has reached the peak of the great Baroque art!

Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

Detail of the fresco of the Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

4. IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU CAN OBSERVE THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME FROM?

Inside the Church, in fact, there’s a point marked by a golden disk which marks the ideal spot from which observers can admire the whole vault and an imaginary architecture consisting of columns, arches and trabeations, standing out against the sky.
But there’s also another marker on the floor, towards the altar, from which you can admire the fake dome created by Andrea Pozzo through an optical illusion effect.

5. MEANING OF THE VAULT OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT IGNATIUS IN ROME

The central point of Andrea Pozzo’s work is Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, from whom originate the rays intended to bring the fire of the Word of the Lord, that Ignatius wanted the Jesuits spread throughout the world.
The vault, in fact, is inspired by the Gospel of Luke you can read on the walls:

“Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur?” (I have come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled!) – Lk 12,49.

Andrea Pozzo | dome

Dome of the Church of Saint Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo

READ ALSO – Art in the 17th century between Baroque and Classicism

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