Filippo Juvarra is believed to have been born on June 16, 1678 in Messina; his father was a silversmith whose approach to applied art and decoration likely influenced his son’s architectural ornamentation.

By Jennifer D. Webb

Filippo Juvarra is believed to have been born on June 16, 1678 in Messina; his father was a silversmith whose approach to applied art and decoration likely influenced his son’s architectural ornamentation.

Over the course of Juvarra’s career he served as architect, theater designer, and urban planner as well as traveled widely. By the end of 1714 he was named the “first architect to the King” in Turin. Over the next 6 years, he visited Portugal where he designed a plan for a palace in Mafia and then, in the year before he died, he also was in London and Paris. Juvarra died on January 31, 1736 in Madrid where he was working for King Philip V.

Juvarra is best known for his contributions to the urban landscape in Turin where he designed 5 churches, 4 royal residences, 4 palaces, as well as several neighborhoods. Wittkower notes that the design elements within each project shift according to what the architect felt was “suitable for the purpose.” (38)

The Basilica of Superga of 1716 fuses together a number of Baroque traditions including Bernini’s decorative style, Michelangelo’s dome, Borromini’s approach to spatial organization, and a mode of connection to the monastic buildings that draws directly from buildings north of the Alps.

References: Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999: 37-46


Image credits:

Agostino Masucci, Filippo Juvarra (ca.1735-1736), San Fernando, Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Wikimedia Commons)

Basilica of the Superga, (Rollopack, Wikimedia Commons)


Further reading: Gianfranco Gritella. Juvarra: L’architettura. Modena: F.C. Panini, 1992; Henry A. Millon, Triumph of the Baroque: Architecture in Europe, 1600-1750. New York: Rizzoli, 1999.

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