Day 747: Bernini Borromini

Laetitia began the final day in Rome by touring the Castel Sant’ Angelo.  It began at Hadrian’s Tomb, constructed from 130 to 139 A.D.  When Hadrian died, his ashes were placed in it as were the remains of several succeeding emperors.  As the empire became less and less secure, the mausoleum was converted to a fortress in 401 A.D.  In the fourteenth century, the popes converted it to a castle with a fortified corridor connecting it to St. Peter’s Basilica.  Later it was also a prison and place of execution.  In Puccini’s opera, Tosca, the heroine leaps to her death from its ramparts after Cavaradossi, her lover, is executed.

Afterwards, the Mind’s Eye Group went to Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria.  In seventeenth century Rome, Gian Lorenzo Bernini played a dominant role in art and architecture and this church contains one of his masterpieces, The Ecstacy of Saint Teresa.  This magnificent sculpture figures in Dan Brown’s novel, Angels and Demons.  Next Laetitia took her group to a church with accompanying cloisters and monastery called San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.  Its architect, Francesco Borromini was Bernini’s contemporary in the world of Roman Baroque architecture.  Though he was likely a better architect than Bernini, he had an abrasive personality and lacked Bernini’s ability to charm prospective clients.  The two cooperated on some projects but they were rivals most of the time.  On one occasion when a commission given to Bernini was retracted and given to Borromini, the pair sparred in an artful manner.  Bernini carved a male reproductive organ on his dwelling pointing toward the disputed building that was now assigned to Borromini.  In retaliation, Borromini sculpted a pair of donkey ears pointed toward Bernini’s house.  The spat inspired Laetitia’s limerick of the day and some lyrics for Uncle Milt’s next party.  She decided to set the lyrics to Verdi’s La Dona e Mobile.

On occasion a fine work of art
Can be aimed like a poisonous dart
As when Artist, Bernini
Pointed at Borromini
His sculpture, a male private part.