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Week 3 – Santa Susanna Facade

February 7, 2011



Santa Susanna Facade

Carlo Maderno 1597-1603.


Just a few feet from Domenico Fontana’s Moses Fountain, Santa Susanna proudly stands as the American Catholic Church.  Carlo Maderno was hired as the architect of this church, though not to build it from scratch, but to remodel the façade.  This along with his commission as architect of St. Peter’s shows Rome as the center of art and patronage once more.  This church’s saint signifies an interest in early Christian martyrs, particularly Roman ones.

The façade of Santa Susanna is very similar to the façade of Il Gesù. It is a vertically planned building front with some horizontal elements.  It possesses features of both tabernacle façade and aedicular façade.  This building is covered in vertically aligned aedicules, or niches.  Many niches house sculpture and are bordered by other architectural elements such as pediments and pilasters.

The main door is inside a niche.  The entrance is surrounded by Corinthian columns that protrude from the rest of the façade.  These columns have been built up to the center by other attached columns and pilasters.  Maderno created a dynamic increase toward the center with his use of pilaster-column combinations.  He also created depth by bringing the columns closest to the center away from the building.

Maderno seems to have mastered the way we look at his buildings.  This is most evident in the materials used.  The main façade of Santa Susanna is built from a marble like stone, to signify it is the most important element to look at.  Surrounding the main church are monasteries made of brick.  Even most photos I have come across only focus on the center of this structure, as if to say the rest is not worthy of viewing.


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