By Anne Leader and Alexis Culotta

Baroque architect Francesco Borromini committed suicide on 3 August 1667. He was born on 25 September 1599 in a town near Lugano, and arrived in Rome in 1619, where he would grow into renown for his inventive architectural design and for his longstanding rivalry with Gianlorenzo Bernini.

After having arrived in Rome, Borromini trained under Carlo Maderno, who cultivated in the young apprentice a unique approach to the Baroque era. Following Maderno’s death in 1629, Borromini embarked on some of his most significant commissions. Indeed, the 1630s saw his work on both San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and the Oratory of S. Filippo Neri, both of which epitomize the High Baroque with their spectacular, theatrical, and organic designs.

Such projects, along with the Lateran Basilica, the Palazzo Barberini, and Sant’Agnese in Agone (after 1652) opposite Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain (1651) in Piazza Navona, ushered Borromini into the upper echelon of architects of the era, but his accelerated production came to a tragic standstill when he became ill and killed himself in 1667.

For more on Borromini:

Peter Stein. “Borromini, Francesco.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.

Nino Carboneri. “Borromini, Francesco.” Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Enciclopedia Treccani.

Further reading:
Borromini by Anthony Blunt (1979)

The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome by Jake Morrissey (2006)

Sant’Ivo, Rome, exterior.

Portrait of Borromini by an unknown artist.

Sant’Ivo, Rome, interior of cupola.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, exterior and interior dome.

Sant’Agnese, Rome.

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