By Anne Leader
Architect Alessandro Galilei was born on 25 August 1691 in Florence. A descendant of the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei (d. 1642), Alessandro served as engineer to the court of the Tuscan Grand Dukes Cosimo III (d. 1723) and Gian Gastone de’Medici (d. 1737). Galilei also drew attention from English travelers to Italy who invited him to London from 1714 to 1719 where he designed the facade and main block of Castletown House near Dublin (built by Edward Lovett Pearce after 1722). Among Galilei’s most prestigious projects were the Cappella Corsini (1732) and facade for St. John Lateran in Rome (1733-35) and the facade for S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini (1734) in the same city. Galilei was one of the most important early 18th-century architects and was a key player in the spread of Neoclassicism in Europe. He is honored with a wall monument at Santa Croce, Florence.
Reference: Elisabeth Kieven. “Galilei, Alessandro.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
Further reading: 18th Century Italy by Christopher Storrs (2013).
Façade of St John Lateran, 1733–35, Rome
Façade of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, 1734, Rome
Girolamo Ticciati, wall monument to Alessandro Galilei, 1737, Santa Croce, Florence. Photo credit: Courtauld Institute of Art.