(b. 1787, Lugano, d. 1849, Napoli)

General view

Foro Murat, Naples

The early 19th century had a predilection for the Roman Pantheon as a model for church building. The combination of a rotunda and a temple façade managed to satisfy the desire for both stereometric clarity and classical grandeur. Moreover, with its monumental look it was excellent for including in showpiece public urban planning settings. One of the most ambitious finished projects of this kind was the Foro Murat (later Foro Ferdinandeo) opposite the Palazzo Reale in Naples, begun in 1809 under the Emperor Napoleon to designs by Leopoldo Laperuta (1771-1858). Named for Napoleon's brother-in-law Joachim Murat, who was installed as viceroy, the square is enclosed by sweeping colonnades in a segmental arc that follow both the tradition of St. Peter's Square in Rome and Palladian models as well.

The square was completed by the Bourbons on their return in 1815. The construction of the church of San Francesco di Paola planned for the centre was put out to competition and awarded to Pietro Bianchi who completed the work by 1836. To dramatic effect, Bianchi designed an Ionic temple façade projecting over lower colonnades and set against the windowless ashlar wall of the rotunda, which is flanked by two domed chapels.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.