Il Gesú frescoes

Il Gesú frescoes
Il Gesú frescoes

After the construction of the church of Il Gesú in Rome by the architect Vignola, decades later it was decided to undertake its interior decoration. A work that was commissioned to Giovanni Battista Gaulli (1639 – 1709).

Il Gesu frescoes

Il Gesú frescoes

This painter originally from the city ofGenoa, in northern Italy, and had trained in his hometown until 1657. On that date he decided to leave to the artistic capital of the moment, Rome. And there he soon enjoyed the support of what was surely the most influential artist of the time, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Thanks to his help, he achieved important commissions such as painting the church of Santa Agnes designed byBorrominiinpiazza Navona. And he also managed to do the frescoes for the entirechurch of Il Gesú, except for the chancel. The Jesuit temple par excellence of the city.

Furthermore, the head of the Jesuit order at the time was also of Genoese origin, something that also favored him. In fact, all three, Gaulli, Bernini and the General of the Order took part in the execution of the work, to which was added the collaboration of Antonio Raggi, sculptor in charge of making the stuccoes of the walls. On the one hand Gaulli was the general planner and painter, the General of the Order conceived the theme for the paintings, while the hand ofBerniniseappreciated in the exquisite fusion of all the arts that were integrated in the execution of the work.

One of the most striking frescoes in the ensemble is the painting of the dome, where the theme is the Celestial Glory seen from below upwards, a highly baroque perspective, very unique of this moment. Since Gaulli's work took place between 1672 and 1685, when the Baroque style reached its highest levels.

However, the most innovative is the conception and the way of interpreting the paintings on the ceilings of the nave of the church, built in a barrel vault with lunettes. There the theme is the Adoration of the Name of Jesus, which is linked to the ex altation of one's own Company of Jesus.

In the center appears the name of Jesus, and from that luminous center a wind departs that reaches the figures, a large number of them representing saints, cherubs, the Magi…) All of them vibrating with Adoration. Although allegories of vices and sins are also seen, which are expelled from that moment, falling downwards.

The iconographic program continues to become sculpture with different figures such as the allegories of the continents where the Jesuits act as missionaries, places where the name of Jesus can already be worshipped.

The entire pictorial ensemble has a highly decorative sense and encloses the entire nave. And for this ornamental value of painting, he uses all the formulas in force and implanted by baroque art. For example insometimes the painting is superimposed on the frames. He also uses risky perspectives. And of course, it fuses the arts of painting, sculpture, architecture or stucco.

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