We take the Via della Mercede and walk toward the west and arrive at the centre street of the trident: the de Via del Corso. Here we cross the street and follow the sign that says Pantheon to get to the Piazza di Sant’Ignazio, which was designed by Filippo Raguzzini between 1717 and 1728 (map of the surrounding). This Piazza was not designed to be looked at both up close and from a distance like the Spanish Steps.
The square in front of the church of St Ignatius is quite small, as a result, the church can only be looked at from nearby. Walking around in the plaza does not add new impressions the way a walk round St Peter’s square or the Cordonata would. We will later compare this square with the Piazza in front of the Santa Maria della Pace, where the architect, Raguzzini, created an inversion of the projecting convex church of Santa Maria della Pace. The residential building in the middle has a concave rather than a convex shape. There are, however, clear similarities between the Spanish Steps and this square. In both situations curved lines moving inward and outward again play a dominant role.
We now enter one of the most important churches of the Jesuit order
This church was designed by two monks, the architect Orazio Grassi and the painter Andrea Pozzo. Click here for a diagram of the frescos on the ceiling. When we are in the nave, we will walk exactly down the middle and halt at a marker, a porphyry disc in the marble floor. From this point you can see the church’s dome really well and also the big ceiling. If you continue walking, still down the middle of the nave, something strange happens, but you will be able to observe this when you are there.
“Pozzo depicts himself in his Self-portrait in a rotated posture, pointing to the false dome [in the Sant’Ignazio] that he has just painted, but which is surprisingly not depicted on the canvas. He points to the ceiling with his right index finger, while his left hand rests in the entire work on his writings on illusionary perspective painting and the use of trompe-l’oeil. “A. Pozzo, “Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum [THE MET] “ 1642-1709 Cited from Wikipedia Dutch and translated
This church is mainly famous because of the fresco on its ceiling by the Jesuit friar Andrea Pozzo. He depicted the founder of the order, Ignatius de Loyola, as he enters paradise. It is a beautiful example of Baroque painting with a cleverly thought out perspective. Wikipedia has many pictures of the ceiling.
If you walk into the aisles, you will find that much of what you saw when you stood near the porphyry stone was just an illusion. This is the limitation of perspective; it works from one point only.
Scheme the frescos apse, choir, transepts and pendentives:
Saint Ignatius Helping the Sick and Poor (Apse calotte) Pozzo
Vision of Saint Ignatius at the Battle of Pamplona (Choir)
Assumption of the Virgin (left transept) Mazzanti
Vision of Saint Luigi Gonzaga in glory (right transept)
A. Judith and Holofernes (pendentive)
B. David and Goliath (pendentive)
C. Jael and Sisera (pendentive)
D. Samson and the Philistines (pendentive)