By Anne Leader

Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra died on 31 January 1736 in Madrid. He began his career working for his father, a silversmith, but switched to architectural design around 1703. He moved to Rome in 1704 where he studied with Carlo Fontana and admired the buildings of Michelangelo, Bernini, and Borromini. He made numerous stage designs for the theater of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni at the Palazzo della Cancelleria as well as the Teatro Capranica, and his theatricality can be seen in the Antamoro Chapel, which he designed for the church of San Girolamo della Carità in Rome.

In 1714, Juvarra moved to Turin to serve Victor-Amadeus II as court architect. His best known work there is the church and monastery at Superga, given by the king as a votive offering. Other Torinese projects include the churches of S. Filippo Neri, S. Carlo, S. Cristina, Santa Croce, and the Carmine. He also worked on residential buildings for the court, including the renovation of Palazzo Madama. It was likely this and similar domestic and urban projects that attracted the attention of King Philip V of Spain, who brought him to Madrid in 1735 to design a new royal residence. Though he made designs and a large model, Juvarra died suddenly in 1736, and the building as realized by his assistant Giovanni Battista Sacchetti was greatly reduced in scale.

Reference: Martha Pollak. “Juvarra, Filippo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. article/grove/art/T045397>.

The Courtyard of a Palace: Project for a Stage, 1713, pen and brown ink, gray and brown wash, over black chalk. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Antamoro Chapel, S. Girolamo, Rome

Palazzo Madama, Turin

Caricature of Filippo Juvarra by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674-1755)

Portrait of Filippo Juvarra by Atostino Masucci, c. 1707, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Basilica of Superga, outside Turin

S. Maria del Carmine, Turin

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