By Martina Tanga

Neoclassical architect and designer Giuseppe Valadier was born on this day, April 14, in 1762. Born and based in Rome, he rose up the ranks to be named the architetto cameraleof the Papal States by Pope Pius VI in 1786. His most prominent commission was the Clock adoring the right side of the front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Unfortunately many of his grand designs for the Pope never rose from the page due to lack of funds and other complications. He did complete, however, a number of private commissions, which reveal Valadier’s investment in clean geometric lines and classical forms. Villa Torlonia is one such project, began in 1806 for the banker Giovanni Torlonia(1756–1829).

Valadier taught architecture  at the Accademia di San Luca and was also interested in archaeology. He led a number of restoration projects on monuments, such as the Milvian Bridge (1805), the Arch of Titus in Rome, (1819–21), and Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola’s neglected Church of Sant’Andrea in Via Flaminia. One of Valadier’s greatest successes was the urban reorganization of Piazza del Popolo. The plan, which took into consideration modern traffic needs and enjoyment of nature, was approved in 1816 and realized in 1822. Valadier also designed the focal point of the Piazza, the fountain that looks up towards the park of Villa Borghese. These are just a few of the wide-ranging project Valadier brought to completion. In the regal years of Neoclassical Rome, Valadier was a major force in the shifting Papal topography, and left his mark on the eternal city in more ways than just architectural design. 

Clocks with mosaic faces on top of the façade bell towers, Basilica of Saint Peter, 1786–90

Gouache drawing of a design for the Triumphal Arch for Pio VI, 1800

Façade of Casino Nobile, Villa Torlonia, Rome, Lazio, Italy, 1802-1806

Fountain in Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Italy, completed 1822

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