BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Façade with semi-detached towers

1636-41
Drawing, MS. Vat. Lat. 13442, f.4.
Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican

In 1636 Pope Urban VIII accepted Bernini's grand design of high towers of three tiers for the façade of Sr Peter's. Of these only the southern one was built, but owing to technical difficulties and personal intrigues construction was interrupted in 1641, and finally in 1646 the tower was altogether dismantled. Since the idea of erecting towers again over the present substructures had to be abandoned, Bernini submitted during Innocent X's pontificate new schemes for a radical solution of the old problem. By entirely separating the towers from the façade, he made them structurally safe, at the same time created a rich and varied grouping, and gave the façade itself carefully balanced proportions. His proposals would have involved considerable structural changes and had therefore little chance of success.

This drawing shows Bernini's design with side towers for St. Peter's façade.