HSAR 252: Roman Architecture
|Transcript||Audio||Low Bandwidth Video||High Bandwidth Video|
HSAR 252 - Lecture 19 - Baroque Extravaganzas: Rock Tombs, Fountains, and Sanctuaries in Jordan, Lebanon, and Libya
Chapter 1. Baroque Architecture in the Roman Empire [00:00:00]
Professor Diana E.E. Kleiner: Good morning everybody. Today I am going to–well actually let me step back for a second. I have been mentioning to you, in the last several weeks I’ve been mentioning to you, more than once, the fact that we are–we have been beginning to see what I’ve described as the baroque element in Roman architecture, the baroque element in Roman architecture. And I want to concentrate on that particular aspect of Roman architecture today, which is why I’ve called the lecture “Baroque Extravaganzas.” I want to make–at the beginning, at the outset, I want to make a few points.
I want to highlight what I see as the three major features of baroque architecture in the Roman period. The first of these is that those buildings that are baroque, or at least the architects and patrons who designed buildings that we think of today as Baroque, or we might define as Baroque buildings, they used the traditional vocabulary of architecture; they used the traditional vocabulary of architecture. And by that I mean the traditional vocabulary of Greek and Etruscan architecture, for the most part. I’m speaking now of columns, I’m speaking of pediments, and I’m also speaking of lintels and entablatures and the like. They use all of that traditional vocabulary, but they use it in a very different way. That’s number one.
Number two is that ancient Roman baroque buildings tend to be decorated in a very ornate fashion – almost too ornate. In fact, we’ll see that these buildings are covered with decoration, so much so that they seem to dematerialize some of the architectural elements, including those ones that make up that traditional vocabulary of architecture. The third, and in some respects the most important, is the fact that they use these traditional elements of architecture to–they use them in a way to enliven the surface, to create motion, to create a sense of undulation. And that in and out, the in-and-out projection and recession that I’ve mentioned on a few occasions, we see that interjected into these works of architecture of the so-called baroque style. So keep those three characteristics in mind, as we look at a host of buildings today.
I also want to mention that we’ll focus primarily today on the eastern part of the Empire, where we see a particularly large number of these baroque buildings, in large part because there was a strong tradition in that part of the world for using that traditional vocabulary of architecture, because of the very strong impact of Greece and of Greek architecture, and of access to high quality marble, from that part of the world, which of course is needed for columns and the like. So we’ll focus on the eastern part of the Empire.
I also want to make the point that when one thinks about Baroque architecture, in general, one thinks not of Roman antiquity, but rather of the seventeenth century in Italy. One thinks, in particular, of two master architects, two great architectural giants, who were on the world stage at that particular time. And that is Bernini, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and also Francesco Borromini, Francesco Borromini; Bernini and Borromini, who were themselves rivals, architectural rivals; put up buildings in fact that are often in dialogue with one another. I think in particular of the Piazza Navona, where we have Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain, and Borromini’s Church of Sant’Agnese there in Agone, and the way in which they were set up to speak to one another.
I don’t know if any of you–I’m sure many of you know the Four Rivers Fountain, where one of the rivers has his hand up, like this, to protect himself. And the implication is he needs to protect himself; he’s facing Bernini’s building, he’s facing–excuse me, he’s facing Borromini’s church, and he needs to protect himself; that is, Bernini’s river needs to protect himself from Borromini’s church, the implication being that if he doesn’t–he needs to hold up his hand because Borromini’s church is going to collapse, because it’s so poorly executed. So this very interesting dialogue between the two men. And again we think of that primarily when we think of Baroque.
And just a couple of examples. I show here–and I’ll show you a number of them in the course of the lecture today, especially Borromini’s work–but I wanted to focus right at the moment on St. Peter’s, San Pietro. You see it here, St. Peter’s as designed–the dome is designed, as we’ve discussed before, by Michelangelo. The façade design by Carlo Maderno, also a seventeenth-century architect. But most interesting are the embracing oval arms of Bernini’s colonnade. And you can see that so well in the view on the upper left, the embracing arms of that colonnade, and all the motion and the in-and-out movement that we find both on the façade and in the embracing arms is characteristic of seventeenth-century Baroque architecture.
But I want to maintain today, as I’ve maintained in the course of the semester, that the Romans, there wasn’t anything that the Romans didn’t do first, and that it is Roman baroque architecture, as we’re going to define it today, that had a huge impact on architects like Borromini and Bernini. And I remind you of a couple of instances of that. Think back; the whole idea of using hemicycles, curves in architecture is begun by the Romans, of course, in such buildings as the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Palestrina, where you see one of the hemicycles up there. And you’ll remember that from our discussion of the paper topics, that in Gerasa there was an oval piazza or oval forum, well before the oval colonnade of Bernini. So again, what I’m going to try to demonstrate today is how important this baroque architecture in Roman antiquity is, not only in its own right, but also as a model and a spur to the architects of the seventeenth century in Italy.
We have touched upon the beginnings of Roman baroque architecture–incipient, we might call it incipient Roman baroque architecture–in a few instances. And I just want to remind you of those today. Think back to Second Style Roman wall painting. I remind you of the Room of the Masks in the House of Augustus, where you see this theatrical façade, done in paint, that represents columns with projecting elements or lintels on either side, and then a kind of a pediment up above. We saw our first explorations of this kind of thing in painting, already in 60 to 50 B.C., and then in this case in the ’30s to 20 B.C. And we maintained at that point that there was probably a direct relationship between theatrical architecture and these kinds of paintings. But we don’t have much in the way of preserved, built architecture at that time that partakes of some of these characteristics. But we think it’s possible that there may have been, as I mentioned then, some wooden, some scaenae frons, with these kinds of effects done in wood, that no longer survive today.
You’ll remember also that we looked at the Forum Transitorium in Rome: the forum first of Domitian and then completed by Nerva. And I show you a detail of that again. And this is when we really begin to see, in built architecture, this move toward what we’re defining today as the baroque in Roman architecture. And you can see that what we have here are the traditional, the traditional vocabulary of architecture: columns, in this case Corinthian columns, with projecting entablatures on top, creating a system of receding and progressing bays across the surface, which created a kind of undulating movement across the sides of the forum. And then you’ll remember also, if you look at the frieze, that the frieze continues along the sides of the columns as well, and then in a relief of Minerva, up on top. It’s not quite–I wouldn’t call it overly ornate quite yet, but it is ornate. And you’ll remember that during the Flavian period, for example, there was a lot of interest in ornate decoration. So we’re beginning to see some exploration of this kind of thing.
And then it comes full-blown, in the early third century A.D., the Septizodium, the façade that was designed for Septimius Severus to add to the Palatine Palace, that had been built by Domitian; this incredible façade that is more show than anything else. We think it may also have served as a fountain, as I mentioned, very much looking like a theater set, with three very large niches, columns on the curve, and then a series of columns, placed in three tiers, with wings on either side, and we have a sense that this too was quite decorative. So all of those elements: the use of the traditional language of architecture, columns, lintels and so on; an interest in a very decorative surface; and then above all this interjection of motion into the structure–projecting bay, receding bay, projecting bay, receding bay–all using the traditional language of architecture, the traditional vocabulary of architecture, namely columns and the like.
Then I also showed you the tomb, the second-century Tomb of the Caetennii, under the Vatican in Rome. And we looked at this axonometric view in Ward-Perkins showing the brick-faced concrete façade, with the exposed brick that was popular at that time. But we focused in on the interior of the structure, where I mentioned that through architectonic means the architects had embellished this surface and created interesting motion in that surface. And you see here this same idea of split–as we see in the paintings of the Second Style, a triangular pediment has been split apart to reveal another triangular pediment inside, with a niche, as you can see, and the rest of the wall embellished with columns. So once again this sense of in-and-out movement, across the sides of that wall–walls. And here you see a view of it as it looks today. The columns and so on are no longer there, but you can reconstruct them in your mind’s eye, underneath these capitals, and get a very good sense of this articulation; what we might call a kind of baroque articulation of the walls.
Chapter 2. Exploring Baroque Elements in Italy [00:11:51]
I mentioned already that most of our best examples of Roman, ancient Roman baroque architecture can be found in the eastern part of the Empire. And I’d like to concentrate on those today; although we’ll look–we won’t look at those exclusively. I do have a couple of examples from the West as well. I’m going to actually start in the West, at a place called Santa Maria Capua Vetere. And I show it to you on the map here. It is close to all the sites in Campania that we’ve been talking about this semester. You see Pompeii and Herculaneum and Oplontis and Baia, for example, and Benevento. And over here Naples. And you can see the proximity of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, to all of those that we’ve already covered.
And in Santa Maria Capua Vetere has been found an extremely well-preserved Roman tomb, and you see it here in the center of the screen – a Roman tomb that dates to the late first century A.D. It is very clear that it is made of concrete construction, and that it is faced with opus incertum work, which you can see here very clearly. But you can also see that some brick has been used, around the niches, and as a molding, both for these cylinders and for the tholos above. This has confused scholars. They don’t know when to date this; also because of these so-called baroque characteristics where you see this undulating façade, with the use of–well they’re not really columns, they’re more like cylinders, and in that sense similar to the cylinders that we saw in the Tomb of the Baker, these cylinders.
But the undulating façade, the use of architectural elements, the interest in decoration, and the cylinders, have confused scholars, as I said, and they have been betwixt and between when to date this thing. And some have said that it dates at the time of such buildings as the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Palestrina, because of the opus incertum. Others have said because of the use of brick here–which we actually think in this case was stuccoed over–that it might be later second century A.D. But this is actually more like the tile brick that we saw in Pompeii, rather than the kind of brick that we see in Ostia. So I favor the first-century date, late first-century A.D. date. But we have to think of it as very prescient of what is to come, experimenting, as did some of those other buildings that I just showed you–the Forum Transitorium, for example–with the sort of thing that is going to become particularly popular in the second and third centuries A.D.
Now I juxtapose this tomb–and by the way, this tomb, the nickname of this tomb, as you can see from your Monument List, is “La Conocchia.” La Conocchia means “the distaff,” and a distaff is used in spinning and weaving, a spinning thread primarily. And it looks like an ancient distaff. So that’s how it got its nickname, La Conocchia. Whether that means that that was intended by the designers, and that this was a tomb of perhaps a woman who was–or a man working in a factory who spun thread. I think that’s very far-fetched, I think it’s highly unlikely, but I just throw it out there. But that is what its nickname is. But you can see by the juxtaposition of it with the Tomb of the Baker on the right, and with the Monument of the Julii in Saint Rémy, in the south of France–which we haven’t looked at, but which we will look at in a lecture next week on Roman architecture in the south of France, primarily–you will see that it makes reference to both of these.
Both of these are earlier. This is, as you know, Augustan; the one on the left is from the late–the time of Julius Caesar. And you can see that it takes elements–I’m not saying it looked at these in particular, but just that these kinds of elements were already in the air when this building was built, in the late first century A.D. The great cylinders of the Tomb of Eurysaces. But it is more similar actually to this one, because the Julii Monument, and also La Conocchia, are examples of what we call the tower-tomb type. The tower-tomb type is taller than it is wide. It has a series of stories, in this case a plain story, then a central story, with the cylinders, and then the tholos at the top. And we see the same sort of thing in the Julii Monument: stepped base, socle here with sculptural decoration, a quadrifrons, and then a tholos at the very apex.
But it’s interesting to see the differences between the two, because what we see in this monument again is much more what we would call baroque, in the sense that we have the undulating façade, we have the use of what looked like, in a general way, the traditional vocabulary of architecture, with these cylinders, with the niches, with the pediments. But look at the way the tholos is treated. When you look at the tholos in the Julii Monument, you see that it really does look like a shrine, and it has statues inside, like a shrine would. This one has blind windows, as you can see. You can’t see into it; there’s nothing inside. So they’re treating the tholos more as a decorative motif than they are treating it as something that has the purpose of holding some either religious items or statues or honorific statues, as it does in this particular case.
Another view of La Conocchia, a detail which I think shows you what I mean about motion being introduced into monuments like this. In this case we are dealing with concrete, and that is somewhat different, the use of concrete to create undulation, than the use of the traditional vocabulary of architecture. But here we see a combination: the concrete wall, faced with the opus incertum, the great cylinders on the edge, and then the aedicula here, with the pediment and the niche below. And you can also see very well the cylinders that are located between the blind windows, as well as this combination of opus incertum work, and also the tile brick that is used to represent the moldings and the like.
I want to compare the central zone of La Conocchia with a seventeenth-century Baroque building in Rome. This is Francesco Borromini’s Sant’Ivo in Rome, taken from an angle that accentuates the curvature of the façade, and the contrast between the concavity of that curvature and the convexity of the outside of the dome, that you see up above – the same sort of thing here. So once again architects of the seventeenth century very much inspired by these kinds of motifs that survived from Roman antiquity.
On the left-hand side of the screen–you’ll all remember this; this is the elliptical fountain from the Palace of Domitian on the Palatine Hill that was located–that he could see, through his window, out of the triclinium, when he dined. And you’ll remember here also in this case made out of concrete construction, designed by Rabirius. You see the elliptical wall and the convexity of that elliptical wall; the central element also convex, but with these interesting concavities, scallops, that Rabirius has created, through concrete faced with brick around the structure. So in that case–all I’m trying to do here is show you that you can create similar effects, either in concrete or through columnar architecture. But what separates revolutionary concrete architecture, as we’ve discussed it today, and baroque architecture, as I’m going to define it this morning, is that in baroque architecture they’re relying on the traditional–not on concrete–but on the traditional vocabulary of architecture–namely, of course, columns, pediments and the like–to create their effects.
A place where it all comes together you’ll recall is at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. We’re looking here at the Piazza d’Oro, a plan of the Piazza d’ Oro: the octagonal vestibule, the great open rectangular space that you can see here, and then the aula or the audience hall on the far right. And you’ll remember the aula had these wonderful undulating walls. But what separated the aula from other undulating walls that we had seen earlier is that it was not done with concrete, but was done with columns. You’ll remember the columns were placed in such a way that they followed the curved shape, and then they supported a concrete dome. So this wonderful combination of the use of traditional language of architecture, along an undulating form, and then with concrete at the top. So we can see already in the Hadrianic period further exploration of this kind of thing.
I also want to show you a very interesting painting, painted room, and this is in the House of the Labyrinth at Pompeii. It’s early in date; it dates to 50 B.C. But it’s an extraordinary room. It’s the atrium of the house. And we talked about several different kinds of atria. We talked about the atrium that had no columns at all, and we talked about the tetrastyle atrium which had four columns around the central basin. What you see here are a host of columns surrounding that central basin. And when you have a number of columns like this, more than four, we call it a Corinthian atrium – a Corinthian atrium with lots of columns.
And what you can see the artist and patron have done here is to orchestrate the relationship of those real columns with the fictive architecture that is painted on the wall, and to play them up in such a way that as you’re standing in the room you are looking through the real columns to see this view that lies behind of a tholos which you can view through the broken triangular pediments. I show it to you for a couple of reasons: one, just to remind you that we saw this kind of thing in painting very early on: this is again 50 B.C., in the Republic still. As we see, the architects taking the traditional vocabulary of architecture and playing with it, breaking it up, opening it and revealing something that lies behind, in this case the tholos.
But look also at the way in which the tholos looks like it’s in the distance. You get the sense that you are looking through an opening in the wall, a window in which you can see that tholos. It seems to lie behind the broken triangular pediment. The pediment has been broken open to allow you to see a vista that lies behind, and you get the sense, as you look at this painting, that the tholos is surrounded by a peristyle, and that there’s also some greenery and so on out there. And then to accentuate this idea of the view through the wall, they have then added the columns here, so that you’re looking through real columns, to fictive columns, to broken triangular pediment, to the tholos that lies behind. You’ll see the relevance of this when we look at some additional monuments.
Chapter 3. Baroque Facadism at Petra [00:23:41]
I want to move–I want to now go now east to look at some of the most spectacular examples that survive of what we are calling baroque architecture in Roman antiquity today. And I want to begin in a site that is in modern Jordan. I’m showing you a map of the Eastern Roman Empire, and we see the site in question, Petra, or some say Petra: you can call it either one, Petra or Petra. You see Petra over here, which is in Jordan today. And you can see its relationship to the Red Sea, to Egypt, to Alexandria, to Judaea, modern Israel, and to some of these other sites – one, in fact, a couple of others that we’ll look at, Baalbek, today, and the site of Gerasa, which is where that oval pizza or forum comes from. Here’s another map of Petra, just to show you where it is located today, within Jordan, its relationship to Amman, and to the ancient site of Gerasa – as you can see up at the bottom, fairly close to the Israeli border, as you can see, as well as to Aqaba down below.
Just to get you in the mood for Petra, we are walking here. There are incredible cliffs here, as well as desert, incredible cliffs, and we’re walking here through what is known as the Siq in Petra. And I want to mention that this is one of those interesting provinces where in order to understand the architecture that was built during the Roman period, you have to have a sense of the local customs, of what happened here before, the buildings that were built prior to the Roman period. And we know that the so-called Nabataeans–n-a-b-a-t, nabat, n-a-b-a-t, Nabataeans, a-e-a-n-s, Nabataeans–lived here, inhabited this part of the world, before the Romans got there. And we know that the Nabataeans built architecture, and that they built architecture primarily out of the stone of the cliffs, and also out of mud.
And one can imagine the kinds of things that you see here, the rock-cut tombs, already begun during the Nabataean period. And it’s interesting, if you look very closely at some of the detailed decoration here, you can see something that any of you who wrote your paper on the Temple of Bel at Palmyra remember, the sort of stepped, the stepped motif decoration. We see the same sort of thing here. But just important for you to know that the Nabataeans were building with stone and with mud before the Roman period, and so when the Romans came in and began to build their own architecture, obviously the impact of what had been built there earlier had made an impression on them.
They too decided to build their tombs out of the living rock of Petra, and they are among the most spectacular and unusual tombs that survive from the Roman period. And I want to show two of them to you today: the so-called Deir, D-e-i-r, and the so-called Khazne, K-h-a-z-n-e. We will look at both of them, with the Deir first. And if you look at the Deir, and the way in which it has been created by carving it out of the living rock, you should not only be impressed, but you should say to yourself, “Wow, this is Roman facadism at its greatest,” at its most obvious as well. This is really Roman facadism, because all there is is the façade, there’s nothing else. The tomb itself is located inside the rock. The tomb chambers are inside the rock. They didn’t do anything to them except hollow them out – nothing much else there. They’ve concentrated all of their efforts on the façade, which seems to grow out of the rock, almost as if by nature.
And if you look at this tomb, the Deir, you should also be struck immediately by the way in which what the Romans have created here is a version in built architecture of what we saw already in 60 to 50 B.C. in Second Style Roman wall painting. It is exactly the same kind of thing: this idea of breaking a triangular pediment open to reveal a tholos that lies inside, in this case on a second story. We see all of the elements that I’ve already mentioned, or most of the other elements that I’ve already mentioned. We see here, in this façade, the use of the traditional vocabulary of architecture: the columns, the entablature above, and pediments and so on down here, triangular pediments down here. We see all of those, but used in a way that the Greeks would never have done. And we see less in this one. I’ll show you better examples of this interest in over ornamentation.
There is ornamentation here, but it’s actually fairly simple. So this one doesn’t partake of that, as much as others that I can show you. But it does definitely, by using the traditional vocabulary of architecture; the surface is enlivened by creating elements that project. Look at these columns on either side, with their projecting entablatures, standing alone–or more pilasters than columns in this case–standing alone, projecting–a receding bay, a projecting bay, a receding bay, a projecting bay–instilling motion across this surface, by means of the traditional vocabulary of architecture, again in this case on two levels.
Here’s another view of the façade of the Deir, on the left-hand side of the screen, and you can see the material used is obviously the rock itself. This has been literally carved out of the living rock, so that it’s obviously the same stone and the same color as the rock that still serves as its backdrop. And then over here, the House of the Labyrinth again, just to show you again the close resemblance of this sort of thing in the mid-second century A.D., in what is now Jordan, to Second Style Roman wall painting. And I show you again the tholos within the broken triangular pediment. But the main difference between the two–and here is where we do get into this whole concept of decoration and even over decoration–the main difference between the two is when you’re standing again in the House of the Labyrinth, looking through the actual columns, toward the painting, and you see that the triangular pediment has been broken to reveal the tholos, as I mentioned before, you still have a sense of space and you still have a sense of reality.
Even though the pediment has been broken, you seem to be–you are looking at a tholos, and you’re meant to think that that tholos lies inside a peristyle court, or a garden, that is outside the house, that you’re seeing through a window. So you read the tholos, or at least I read the tholos, as further back than the broken triangular pediment. That is entirely different here. Yes, there’s a tholos; yes, there’s a broken triangular pediment. But the tholos has been turned into a decorative motif, among many. It is a tholos, yes, but it doesn’t look like a working tholos, so to speak. You can see that it has a niche in the center of it, just like the other bays have niches that probably held a statue. But you don’t have a sense that there is any space in there. It is a decoration on the surface, on the façade, of this structure, just like all the other decorations. And that is a major difference between the way in which the tholos is used in the Deir and the tholos is used in typical Second Style Roman wall painting.
You may also have noticed some of the decoration; and I’m going to show you some details now, so that we can look at those together. Here you get a very good sense of the color of the stone, of the rocks, of Petra. But you also see here a capital that is unlike any capital that we have seen before. And this is where we see the influence of the Nabataeans. The Nabataeans were building buildings that had capitals that looked this, sort of interesting undulating capitals, but very plain: plain with a concave side and then a kind of knob in the center, as you can see here. These are Nabataean capitals, and in this mid-second century A.D. tomb you can see that they are looking, they’re clearly looking at models from Rome. They are clearly looking at the kinds of paintings that I have already reminded you of, but at the same time–or let’s say drawings made from those paintings that are circulated, or the architects may have access to. But they are combined with local elements, in this case the Nabataean capitals.
And then if you look at this detail over here, you will see that they’ve used a kind of triglyph and metope system, with the panels and then the triple striated bands that we saw was characteristic of Greek Doric architecture; that’s used here. But look at what’s in the metope. We don’t see anything like this in Greek or Roman architecture; the metopes, in fact, in Greek architecture are usually filled with figural scenes, figural panels. But here we see these large disks, and a disk in each one of these square panels. These are Nabataean disks. They are used in earlier Nabataean architecture. So once again this very interesting and very fruitful coming together of Nabataean elements and of Roman elements in this extraordinary tomb of the mid-second century.
And then I show you, on the left-hand side of the screen, the finial that caps the tholos. And a fellow sitting over here, at the base of the finial, is very helpful to us because he gives us a sense of human scale. This is this man; he’s small compared to the finial. So you can imagine how small he is in relationship to the tomb as a whole. So once again bigger is better reigns supreme in Jordan, as it did in Rome, where we can see that the Romans are building very large in the second century. If we look at this finial here, this decoration at the apex, we see that they have used one of these Nabataean capitals again here, and that that supports a kind of fat vase on the top, with a top on it. And that, you see that sort of thing in Roman art; you see it sometimes in Second Style Roman wall paintings. It’s probably a Greco-Roman motif that has been combined with the Nabataean capital here. And you can also see, from looking at this, as well as the tomb as a whole, that the architect is really treating these buildings almost more as sculpture than as architecture, molding them in a way that a sculptor might. And that’s not so different from what we saw Rabirius, for example, doing in his octagonal room and in the fountain at the Palace on the Palatine Hill.
Here again Borromini, Francesco Borromini’s Sant’Ivo, the uppermost part of that, just to show you again the kind–these are by no means exact; there’s no exact relationship between these two at all, and this one has different features than that. But just to show you that it’s this kind of thing that unquestionably inspires architects like Borromini in the seventeenth century in Italy to create the kind of lanterns and so on that they do for the churches that they design. Here’s another interesting comparison. This is a wonderful view of the Deir in Petra, which shows you I guess best of all the way in which it is carved out of and still embedded into the rock of Petra itself; magnificent. And I compare it here too to another Borromini church. This is the famous Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, better known as San Carlino, the Little San Carlo, San Carlino, as you see here.
And you see what Borromini has done. He has the undulating façade–he’s using the traditional vocabulary of architecture, just like these architects are, these nameless architects are: the columns and the entablatures and the pediments, and so on and so forth. He’s using all of those here. He even has a tholos in the second–in the upper story, right there. And he is also very taken with the whole idea of an actual undulating wall, as you can see also in this view. But he is doing the same sort of thing that we see architects doing here, and I don’t think there’s any question that the sort of building that we see on the right, the Deir, had impact on architects in the seventeenth century. We know that some of them traveled to this part of the world. We know that drawings were made, that books were made, that these were brought back, these were seen by people in Rome in the seventeenth century–and of course they had local things to see as well in Italy–and that they were influenced by what they saw.
The other rock-cut tomb, the other very impressive–there are many of them in Petra; I’m only showing you two out of a fairly nice variety. But I want to show you the other most famous one, the Khazne in Petra. It also dates to the mid-second century A.D. Once again carved out of the living rock. Once again pure facadism; this is nothing more than a façade. You can see how in this case–once again two-storied–a very similar scheme to what we saw at the Deir–two-storied, with a temple front down below and a tholos above, that is revealed by the splitting of the triangular pediment, as you can see well. Once again the tholos definitely treated as a decorative motif. Yes, in this case it has a statue on a base, but a statue on a base that is not a real statue on a base, but a statue on a base that is carved onto the stone. So once again we get a sense that this is a decorative motif rather than an actual statue standing in the tholos, and the same for the items on the bases on either side. You can see the triangular pediment very well. You can see the way it has been split aside to reveal the tholos. You can see down below a real temple front, in this case.
This one is much closer to its Roman prototypes, in the sense that even the decorative motifs are Roman. Unlike in the Deir, where we saw the Nabataean capitals and the disks, here we see actual versions of the Corinthian order used; the Corinthian order used here. This looks very much like a real temple front, with an actual pediment; sculptural decoration, a frieze as well. We’re beginning to see, in this one, not only the use of the traditional vocabulary of architecture, and not only the enlivening of the surface using that traditional vocabulary of architecture through these–in such a way that it creates motion–projection, recession, projection, recession–but we also are seeing here, in a way that we did not in the Deir, this interest in excess ornamentation: ornamenting every surface that you possibly can, with sculptural friezes, with pedimental sculpture, with statuary carved into the stone in all of the niches. But then again, a much closer relationship to earlier Roman precedence by the temple front, by the use of the Corinthian order. But this one too, a very similar finial at the top of the tholos, but using a kind of Corinthian capital, with one of those vases on top; vases, by the way, that we often see in Second Style Roman wall painting.
Once again, one could come up with a lot of comparisons for the Khazne with monuments, with seventeenth-century Baroque buildings in Rome. This may not be the best, but it’s one of my favorites and I decided to show it in this context. But it’s the Church of Santa Maria–it’s right near the Piazza Navona–Santa Maria della Pace, designed by Pietro da Cortona. Same sort of idea; you know, the temple front down below. Yes, this is a different kind of temple front, because it’s a round temple and not one with a pediment. But the same general idea of having a temple front below, and then a second story above, all of this enlivened with traditional vocabulary of architecture–columns, columns, pilasters, a window in the niche, right up there a very interesting segmental pediment inside a triangular pediment. Just to show you that this kind of experimentation that we see in seventeenth-century Baroque architecture, mostly in church building but also in palaces, is so clearly inspired, let’s say, by the baroque architecture of Roman antiquity. A couple more details here. Here’s a wonderful view from down below showing you the tholos of the Khazne at Petra, and comparing it to, once again, some of the confections of Baroque architects in Rome, of the seventeenth century, namely Sant’Ivo again, with its curved façade and wonderful eight-sided dome, and some of the interior decoration also of Sant’Ivo above.
Chapter 4. The Baroque in Ancient Asia Minor [00:41:39]
Staying on the–staying in the Eastern Empire, I want to go now to ancient Asia Minor, to two sites on the coast, on the western coast of what is now Turkey, Ephesus and Miletus, Ephesus and Miletus. And I want to begin in Ephesus, to show you one building there of considerable interest I think, in terms of its relationships to Rome. It is the Temple of Hadrian, so called, that dates to around 120 to 130 A.D. in Ephesus. We know Hadrian visited Ephesus. We know that those who lived there wanted to honor him by building a temple to him. It is actually more a shrine than a temple. This is not a bigger is better; this is actually a fairly small structure, as I said, more a shrine than it is a temple. It’s a kind of street side temple. You’re walking along the street and then there, all of a sudden, it is.
But what’s interesting about it is the fact that it makes use of the arcuated lintel, as you can see here, straight and curved, just as we saw it used at the Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa. So a motif that we see in Italy, being used also in Asia Minor for another Hadrianic building – so it’s becoming associated, in the minds of designers, with Hadrian himself. So traditional vocabulary of architecture, but used in a different way, by using the straight and arcuated lintel together.
This is a very good example of this interest in over-ornamentation. Every single square inch is used by the architects to decorate: as you can see, the architrave and also the lintel in the back and the pilasters in the back, all of them decorated to the point where the decoration almost dematerializes the architectural members. Another detail where I think you can see that particularly well, here on the right, this dematerialization of the architectural members through sculpture.
And you’ll remember this same approach in the Severan Basilica in Leptis Magna. This is a detail of the piers that we believe were added during the time of Caracalla – so around 216 A.D. Obviously much later in date, but we see already here this interest in this sort of thing, that’s going to culminate at places like Leptis. And also just to make the point that this same use of the straight and arcuated lintel, that we see in Hadrianic architecture, turns up also in seventeenth-century Baroque Rome. I show you the interior of San Carlino here, where you can see again the straight and arcuated lintels combined. So clearly seventeenth-century Baroque architects looking back at Roman examples.
I want to show you briefly a gate at Miletus, also, as you saw, in ancient Asia Minor. It’s the gate to the South Agora or marketplace of Miletus, and it dates to around A.D. 160. It is no longer in Miletus. It was moved some years ago, as antiquities sometimes are, from its country of origin to Germany. It now can be seen in the museum in Berlin. They also have a great model in Berlin that shows you the relationship of the gate to the rest of the Roman city; and you can see the gate way up there. An incredible showpiece for the city, this gate that allowed one to enter into the South Agora.
I show it to you as reconstructed in the museum in Berlin. It is quite an impressive piece. You can see here, it is that, it is a gate, and it shows that you could apply these baroque façades to just about any kind of architecture. You see that the gate has a triple opening down below, three blind windows on top. It is made entirely out of stone. It uses the traditional vocabulary of architecture: columns and capitals. You can see the capitals in this case are–seem to be composite capitals.
And it is very much the theater, the theater scaenae frons idea, with a series of projecting elements on top of two columns, with wings on either side, also projecting. Down below, the lintels are straight, but up above they have combined full triangular pediments in the wings, with a broken triangular pediment in the center. And the broken triangular pediment in the center is particularly interesting, because you can see the two sides, left and right, up above. But you can also see that they’ve included the center of the pediment, but in a plane that is further back. So you get this kind of zigzag motif, where you begin–the pediment begins in the front zone and then zigzags to the back zone, which injects even further, even a greater motion, into the overall scheme. Once again we see the projection, the recession, projection, recession, all using the traditional vocabulary of architecture.
It’s interesting to compare this to a much earlier gate in Greece. I show you the Propylaia, the gateway to the Athenian Acropolis, fifth century B.C., where you can see it’s all function. They’ve used the Doric order here, and the columns support the roof above; triglyphs and metopes. The whole idea–it’s very beautiful–but the whole idea is to use these columns functionally. Very different in this gate in Miletus, in the second century A.D., where you can see that the columns are no longer used for structural purposes, but mainly to decorate and to enliven and to add motion to the structure in a way that is entirely out of keeping with these important Greek precedents. Here you see a detail: some tourists looking at this and other things, in the museum in Berlin, which gives you again a sense of the colossal scale of this structure. Here you can see also very well the composite capitals, as well as once again this interest in an almost overly decorative surface that is so characteristic of baroque architecture.
A number of you embarked on the Library of Celsus as your paper topic; so I’m sure you know everything there is to know about that. But I want to show it to you quickly, in the context of this lecture, because it’s an important monument for all of you to be aware of. Lest you think that it has always looked the way it looks now, I show you a view that was taken, well by now twenty-five years ago or so, before the building was re-erected, which it has been since then. The building–this is what the Library of Celsus looked like twenty-five or so years ago. But fortunately, even though everything had fallen down, it was all there, as you can see. There were fragments strewn everywhere: hundreds and hundreds of fragments strewn around the site, and enough fragments so that basically the building was there. And what they eventually decided to do was use those fragments to re-erect it, which took a number of years. And the results have been truly spectacular.
I show you a view of Ephesus as it looks today, looking back toward the re-erected Library of Celsus, and then a better view here, where you can see what all of those pieces, the giant jigsaw puzzle that all of those pieces ultimately made. You can see here this incredible façade of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. And you can see the scheme is the same as I’ve just showed you in the South Agora Market Gate at Miletus, in this case two tiers. The bottom tier is very similar to what we saw there, just two columns supporting a straight entablature above. And then in the second story, the addition of more decorative elements, with segmental, two segmental pediments flanking a rectangular one in the center, with separate individual columns at either end, like we saw in the Deir, with supporting projecting entablature.
Once again using the traditional vocabulary of architecture to create motion across the surface: projection, recession, projection, recession. But here, one very interesting feature is that if you look at the second story and the placement of those second story elements on top of those below, you can see that the ones at the top are not directly above the ones at the bottom, as we saw in the market gate, but they straddle the space below, which is very interesting. So instead of having the two columns, with a pediment above, right above this, you can see the columns with the pediment above are right above the space, so they’re straddling the spaces. Which, if you look at it for awhile, you’ll see adds an additional sense of motion to the surface of this structure. I think you can also see from this general view the interest in ornamentation. You can see that perhaps much better here, in these details.
Here’s a detail of one of the niches. Some of the statues are still preserved, with the names of the figures in Greek down below. You can see the way in which they have essentially dematerialized the piers by decorating them so extensively. And this wonderful view up, where you can see the variegated marble that is used here. You can see the coffered ceiling. You can see the deep undercutting of the capitals, and the entablature, and how overly ornamental it actually is. And you can also see that in the uppermost part actually what they’ve created here, in this particular building, is something that looks very much, I think, like the architectural cages at the upper tier of the Fourth Style. And I remind you of a detail of one of those, from that fragment from Herculaneum that shows the same sort of coffered ceiling and elements, as well as the split triangular pediment, that we see also in built architecture in the second century A.D. in Ephesus.
The inside of the structure looked like this. This is from Ward-Perkins, showing you one main niche; a couple of other tiers with columns, much simpler inside, as you can see. The niches had shelves, and this is where the scrolls were kept, in the library. And here a niche, beneath which was a place for the last resting place of Celsus. I mentioned this to you when we talked about the paper topics, that Celsus wanted–he built this library as a benefaction to his city, to benefit the citizenry obviously of the city, as well as to have a building to put his name on. But he liked it so much, and it meant so much to him, that he decided to make it his own tomb. He was buried in his library, beneath that central niche; you see it in plan here, the location of that central niche–so as he could be in the midst of this extraordinary building that he built, in perpetuity.
Another showpiece done in this same ancient Roman baroque style is the one that you see here, in a restored view, from the Ward-Perkins textbook. It dates to the early second century A.D. It’s a nymphaeum, or a fountain, located at Miletus in Turkey. We see it here. And it was also an extraordinary structure. It was much more ostentatious than it needed to be; it could get the job done with a lot less. Its purpose was to serve as a fountain. You’ve got the basin down below. You could do this with a single story certainly. But they built up three stories in this particular place. They’ve been as ostentatious as they possibly can. They’ve spent as much money as they possibly can. Because I think it was a form of one-upsmanship from one city to the next; you know, I have a better fountain than you’ve got, or I’ve got a more ornate fountain than you’ve got, was the whole idea; our city is doing particular well, because you can see what prosperity has wrought by this amazing fountain that we’ve been able to build for the benefaction of the people of the city of Miletus.
And you can see that the scheme is the same. It looks back certainly to the theatrical architecture, to the Second Style painting and Fourth Style painting that we’ve talked about here. The same general idea, with the first story a series of double columns with straight entablatures above; in the second story the addition of pediments, in this case triangular pediments combined with these interesting scroll motifs over some of the pairs of columns. And then in the uppermost story, triangular pediments once again, niches behind them and between them, with statuary, as you can also see, and then pilasters, decorative pilasters on the wall. This one also has wings, but you can see that the wings are even more elaborate than the wings we’ve seen in any of the other structures, and they, in fact, have pediments that face in toward the central part of the structure and toward the fountain proper. Ward-Perkins has added a few figures here that give you a sense once again of the enormity of the scale of this amazing fountain in the city of Miletus.
Chapter 5. The Theater at Sabratha, North Africa [00:55:31]
I mentioned that although I was going to concentrate today on baroque architecture in the eastern part of the Empire, I would show at least one example from the West, and I show that to you here. It takes us back to North Africa, to a place called Sabratha, which is located in between Timgad and Leptis Magna, that we looked at last time. Here’s the site of Sabratha, and you can see that it too is located on the sea. An extraordinary theater was built there, and it’s another example of the way in which these baroque façades could be used for a whole host of buildings; it could be used for theaters and for temples and for fountains and for libraries and so on and so forth. But theater architecture it was particularly appropriate for, because we’ve seen, from the very beginning of Rome, that these kinds of ornate columnar schemes were used quite frequently in theatrical architecture.
We are looking at the exterior of the Theater at Sabratha, which you can see from your Monument List dates to around A.D. 200. It has been re-erected. Much of it had fallen down, but once again there was quite a bit of–the stone was there, and so they re-erected the façade. You can see that it, like pretty much everything we’ve looked at today, was made out of local stone. And you can also see two tiers. And you can see that although it’s made out of local stone, it is very similar to the sort of thing we saw much earlier in Rome itself. Think of the Theater of Marcellus. Think of the Colosseum: the scheme of arches with pilasters or columns in between them, engaged into the wall, as you can see so well here.
If you look at the view on the left, you will see however that the stage building of the Theater at Sabratha is particularly well preserved, and I want to show you two views, two spectacular views, this one in particular, which shows you what this structure looked like in antiquity and what it looks like now. And it is another one of these extraordinary baroque façades, again so typical for theatrical architecture. We see the three great niches, as we often do–think of the plan of the Augustan Theater at Leptis Magna, for example–three great niches, these columnar elements on either side, in three stories, no straddling here, they are just on top one another, as you can see well, but a series of four instead of the usual two. But then within the niches they’ve also created these elements, in this case with two columns that project; they’re inside the niche, they’re contained inside the niche, but they project in front of the niche, adding even more enlivenment to the structure.
Look down below also. We rarely have the bottom of the stage preserved, but we have it preserved here, and preserved extremely well. The bottom of the stage has been scalloped. It has projecting elements, with columns. And the whole thing is decorated with sculpture – so many figures that those figures seem to almost dematerialize the stone. A crowd of figures, not just a few figures that you can read very well, but a whole host, crowds of figures, that show again this interest in over-decoration in these baroque buildings. Here’s another view, not quite as clear, but I think a very good one, that also gives you a very good sense, not only of the stage decoration, but of the scale of the structure, because we’ve got a few tourists standing here, which show you that once again bigger is better is clearly the rallying call of the day. Here’s a detail of some of that decoration: gods and goddesses and the like. We see the Three Graces here, for example. But you can see the way they are crowded in, to give one a sense of a kind of excess ornamentation, which was obviously very popular during this period.
Chapter 6. The Temples of Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus in Baalbek, Lebanon [00:59:35]
The last set of buildings that I want to show you are in many respects the most interesting of all, and this is a group of buildings that are part of a complex in what is now Lebanon, the city of Baalbek. The so- called Sanctuary of Jupiter Heliopolitanus at Baalbek, which was constructed over a 200-year period, from the mid-first century A.D. to the mid-third century A.D. The location of Baalbek is right over here, as I said, in modern Lebanon. And the remains are incredible, the remains are incredible. Every so often there’s, you know, often fighting. This is the Bekaa Valley, so there’s often fighting that breaks out in this particular part of the world, and one worries about these monuments, but so far they seem to have withstood some of the difficulties that that area has experienced in recent years. And you see some of them here in the–it’s nicely silhouetted against the landscape.
But this gives you a better idea of what the complex looked like in antiquity, and I show it to you here. Again, it was built over a series of years. But let’s just talk about it as a whole, and then I’ll break down the chronology for you. It had a grand entranceway, with a single staircase; façade orientation, with an arcuated lintel here, contained within a pediment. Then, interestingly enough, you went from that entranceway into a hexagonal court, open to the sky. From the hexagonal court, into this great open rectangular space, surrounded by columns. A very large altar right here, to Jupiter, because the main temple in this complex was the Temple to Jupiter, and you see it also in the restored view at the back. So the Altar to Jupiter, the Temple to Jupiter.
If you look at the Temple to Jupiter, you will see it’s very similar to the temples that we’ve been looking at over the course of the semester: very tall podium, single staircase, façade orientation, deep porch, freestanding columns in that porch, and the like. And you can also see that there is another temple right outside the walls of this one. This is the so-called Temple of Bacchus, which is one of the three that was part of this complex, that also seems to have had its own little courtyard. And then down here, out of the picture, a round Temple to Venus that we’re also going to look at. This is a restored view of the same, showing you the entranceway, the hexagonal court, the large Temple to Jupiter, the smaller Temple to Bacchus, and the forecourt that it too would have had, as well as this much less elaborate entranceway into the Temple of Bacchus.
This is perhaps the most spectacular view I’ve shown you all semester of anything; this is really an awesome photograph, I think, taken from the air. Needless to say, I can’t lay credit to this, since it was taken from the air. But you see it here, and it is an amazing, amazing photograph, that really gives you a better sense than anything else might of the current remains, where you can see the entrance gate. You can see that the staircase is a shadow of what it once was; it was once much wider. You can see the hexagonal court from above. You can see the open rectangular space. You can see the bare remains of the altar. And you can see the Temple of Jupiter, which has its podium, not much of its staircase, and only six columns still surviving. But the Temple of Bacchus outside the walls, much better preserved, and gives us a very good sense of these temples as a whole.
A plan over here, showing the same: the entrance court, the hexagonal entranceway, the open rectangular space, at A the Temple of Jupiter, B, the Temple of Bacchus. And here an engraving showing the entranceway, with this arcuated lintel, just as we saw popular in the Hadrianic period, and the pediment. Now the chronology is that the Temple of Jupiter was built first, in the mid-first century A.D. That’s way back, that’s like the time of Claudius and Nero: mid-first century A.D. Then in the second century there were other additions, and it was in the third century that the propylon and the hexagonal court–the second century actually was the open rectangular space was added in the second century, and then in the third century they added the hexagonal court and the entranceway. So moving from the back toward the front.
These are the six columns that are preserved of the Temple of Jupiter, at Baalbek. They are incredibly–the whole structure is incredibly large. This is the biggest building we’ve seen thus far. We know there were ten columns in the front, nineteen on the sides. They’re again made out of honey colored local limestone; I think, as you can see so well in both of these views. In this case the podium was 44 feet tall, 44 feet tall. The podium at the Temple of the Divi, at the Forum at Leptis Magna, was 19 feet tall, and we thought that was big. This is 44 feet tall, and the columns were 65 feet tall. And remember those columns that Sulla stole from Greece, 55 feet tall, for the Temple of Jupiter OMC, these are ten–are much taller than that. So it gives you some sense of the incredible scale of this structure.
Here’s a plan of the Temple of Bacchus, the second temple that I want to show you, that dates to the mid-second century A.D. We see it here. You can get a very good sense of its structure, and you can see the way in which it combines typical Roman with Greek features: single staircase, façade orientation, deep porch, freestanding columns in the porch, single cella. But it has a peripteral colonnade, as one finds in Greek architecture. But it doesn’t have a peripteral staircase, as I’ll show in a moment; it has rather a high podium.
Here you see it. It is very well preserved. You can see the columns encircling the whole building. But you can see there is no staircase circling the whole building, but a very high podium. A few people here for scale. This is a big building, and this building is much smaller than the Temple of Jupiter. These buildings are so big that someone, I guess tongue in cheek, wrote an article at one point suggesting that this could not have been built by human beings, Romans or otherwise, and was definitely built by Martians who came down in a spaceship and built it and then left, but left us with something quite extraordinary, if that was indeed the case.
Once again overly decorative, overly decorative. If you look at–we could look at a whole host of details, but if you look at them you will see extraordinary things. We’re looking up in one of the vaults, and you can see how it’s been nearly pretty much eaten away by this excessive decoration. The same here with this wonderful Medusa head in the center. No inch is left undecorated by these architects. This is one of the best-preserved interiors of a Roman temple that we have, the Temple of Bacchus. We are looking through the doorway. If you look at the jambs of the doorway, you will see how decorated they are, and again the way in which they have been dematerialized through that ornamentation.
Looking into the interior–and I can show you a better view here–you get a very good sense of what this structure looked like in antiquity: the truly colossal Corinthian columns, in this particular case, the niches on two stories, with arcuated pediments and with triangular pediments up above–the extraordinary scale of this highly decorative interior. And I can show you a restored view of what we think this looked like in antiquity. At first glance it doesn’t look so different from the sort of Basilica Ulpia idea in Rome, with the flat ceiling, the coffered ceiling, the giant columns and so on. But, of course, it has no aisles, since it’s–I mean, it does, I’m sorry, it does [not] have aisles here. But you can see the arcuations; you can see the pediments, with the sculpture inside. You can see the Corinthian capitals. And you can see no clerestory here.
But you can see a very interesting feature at the end. The focus of everyone who came into this temple was the so-called adyton, a-d-y-t-o-n, adyton, which is a kind of shrine in which the cult statue of Bacchus would have been presented. You can see it well here. And you can see the use of the broken triangular pediment, but one that is very similar to that market gate in that the central element, with its triangle, still preserved, but preserved in a plane that is further back – so that kind of zigzag motion that we see here. The great archivolt underneath, the paired columns on either side, the shrine in the center. A very elaborate motif, done in the style that we have described as baroque for this incredible structure.
I want to end today by showing you my favorite of all the buildings that I’ve shown you today, because it’s so eccentric, and that is the Temple of Venus at Baalbek. It’s the small temple that lies outside the complex, to the left of the complex, in the front. And it’s the latest of the three temples–it probably dates to early–to mid-third century A.D.–and also by far the smallest; it’s very small in relationship to the others. It is also a round temple, unlike them, which are the traditional rectangular temples, a round temple.
But a round temple with a difference. If we look at the plan, we will see it has a single staircase, a façade orientation, deep porch, freestanding columns in that porch. It also is peripteral; it has columns that go all the way around. It is a round structure with a round cella. But you can see in plan that the architect has scalloped the outside of the structure, in a very interesting way, and you can see that also in these restored views over here – that scalloping, both on the base and also in the area of the entablature above the columns. You can also see that the architect has placed niches on the outside of the structure, with statues in them, which is another example of this desire to decorate every surface that one possibly could.
There’s a great deal of controversy as to what the porch actually looked like: whether the porch had what we see here, which is an arcuated lintel inside a triangular pediment. That’s possible. It may not have had that, we’re not absolutely sure. But at the very least we have this combination of what seems like a relatively traditional porch, with an innovative body. It is, in a sense, a small version, and a very eccentric version, of the Pantheon in Rome, with that traditional porch and revolutionary body. But this is not made out of concrete, it is made entirely out of local stone. And again it has these wonderful features, like the scalloped base.
And I show you a detail. It’s very well preserved today, as are the other buildings, or at least the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek. We see it here. You can see its stone construction. Unfortunately it’s black and white, but you can get a sense; it’s the same honey colored stone as the others. You can see the way it looks here. You can see the scalloped base; the scalloped, the wonderful scalloped entablature, and, the overly decorative nature of that entablature. Above, in this case Corinthian capitals, as you can see. Some traditional motifs, like these hanging garlands. The niches here with the statuary, making the whole into a kind of decorative motif; even the outside of the cella becomes decorative.
But look very carefully and you will see that the bases of the columns are five-sided, to make them work better with the scalloped wall. This is the second time we’ve seen bases like this. We saw them in the Tomb of Annia Regilla in Rome, a base that had multiple–more sides than was usual. We see that here, and it’s a testimony again to the eccentricity of this particular designer, but also to the sort of anything-goes approach that we see in so much of this Roman baroque architecture.
And I just, in closing, the last two images that I’d like to show you are a detail of the Temple of Venus at Baalbek, with a temple–with a detail of a Borromini structure. This one is the Borromini structure. This one is the Temple of Venus. But I think when you look at views like this, you can see the close–you can see what I mean by defining these as baroque buildings, already in Roman antiquity – but you can see the extraordinary impact that these amazing Roman creations had on the minds and on the oeuvres of great architects, like Bernini and Borromini, in the seventeenth century in Italy. Thank you very much.
[end of transcript]Back to Top
|mp3||mov [100MB]||mov [500MB]|