S. Andrea al Quirinale

  Photo of the church San Andrea al Quirinale in Rome Copyright: © Tobias Glitsch  

S. Andrea al Quirinale.

The Genesis of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Oval Church in Rome

Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s church of S. Andrea al Quirinale, built from 1658 onwards for the Roman noviciate of the Society of Jesus, is rightly regarded as one of the cornerstones in the history of Western architecture. Nevertheless, for a long time research on the building has limited itself to giving an overview of the general chronology and to analysing its decorative concept or the obvious aspects of its iconography. A comprehensive study on the architecture of the church, on the other hand, has up to now been lacking. Thus, not only have all those parts of the building that go beyond the façade, the main rotunda and the ring of chapels remained virtually unknown. The conditions and processes which eventually led to the church assuming its final shape have not been treated in sufficient depth either.

The project, therefore, was aimed at for the first time taking a closer look at the church its entirety, tracing the various steps necessary during the its planning and construction process, systematically identifying the precursors and possible comparisons for its main architectural ideas and complementing its iconographic interpretation by readings other than those referring to Saint Andrew as its titular saint and the Pamphilj family as its donors. By combining both a thorough examination of the built fabric based on the techniques of historic building research and an analysis of the relevant archival documents, historic images and contemporary monuments according to methods traditionally used in the arts and humanities, it not only became possible to arrive at a much fuller understanding of this one specific church. Rather, the project has also made a couple of more general contributions to the history of early modern construction and planning techniques and has laid crucial foundations for further research on secondary spaces in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sacred architecture.

The study was accepted by the Faculty of Architecture of RWTH Aachen University as a PhD thesis in 2018. A revised publication in printed form is being planned. Moreover, the submitted version of the PhD thesis is accessible online via the website of RWTH Aachen University Library.



Dr.-Ing. Tobias Glitsch