(b. 1639, Genova, d. 1709, Roma)

Nave vault

Il Gesù, Rome

The fresco on the nave vault represents the Triumph of the Name of Jesus.

In Baroque churches, in addition to the choir, the nave vaults, transept chapels, and cupola (if present) offered large and attractive surfaces for painting. Although fictive openings in ceilings and vaults had already been created in painting in the sixteenth century, permitting vivid views of events taking place in heaven, the heavenly visions of the seventeenth century take on a new quality, scale, and intensity. The supreme example is the ceiling composition executed by Baciccio (Giovanni Battista Gaulli) in Il Gesù, the most spectacular of a fresco program encompassing virtually the entire church that Baciccio worked on for thirteen years (1672-85). In earlier examples the architecture served as the framing for the pictures, in Il Gesù the relationship between architecture and painting was redefined: painting and decoration are confined to those portions of the church structure of greatest symbolic importance.

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