A new artwork attributed to Borromini in Siena

A new study reveals that the Crocefisso Chapel in the Church of San Martino in Siena was designed by Baroque architect Francesco Borromini. The research, led by professor Joseph Connors of the Harvard University and by professor Machtelt Brüggen Israëls of the University of Amsterdam, will appear on the upcoming issue of The Burlington Magazine.

This discovery reshapes the 17th century artistic scene of Siena. During that century the city was dominated by the Chigi family, whose members were very close to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Borromini’s greatest rival. In Siena, Bernini designed the family chapel in the Duomo (also known as the Madonna del Voto chapel), while in Rome he worked for the pope Alexander VII Chigi (1655-1667). 

The Church of San Martino, where the Crocefisso chapel is located, dates back to the Middle Ages, but its façade was built only in the 17th century, by the architect Giovanni Fontana (brother of the more famous Domenico). During that century many important artworks embellished the decoration of the church: Beccafumi’s Nativity, Reni’s Circumcision of Jesus, Guercino’s Martrydom of Saint Bartholomew. The commission of a new architectonical project to Borromini most certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the Chigi, who might have provided the inspiration for it.

Source: Artribune

Further reading: J. Connors – M. Brüggen Israëls, Borromini in Siena, in The Burlington Magazine – September 2016 issue

Cappella del Crocefisso, Church of San Martino, Siena

Portrait of Francesco Borromini in San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome

Church of San Martino, Siena

Posted by Martina Bollini

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