BORROMINI, Francesco
(b. 1599, Bissone, d. 1667, Roma)

Exterior view

Oratorio dei Filippini, Rome

The brethren of the Congregation of St Philip Neri had for a considerable time planned to build an oratory next to their church of Santa Maria in Vallicella. In conjunction with this idea, plans ripened to include in the building programme a refectory, a sacristy, living quarters for the members of the Congregation, and a large library. This considerable programme was, in fact, not very different from that of a large monastery.

Borromini won the competition in 1637, and the building activity was rapid: in 1640 the oratory was in use, in 1641 the refectory was finished, between 1642 and 1643 the library above the oratory was built and between 1644 and 1650 the north-west front with the clock-tower overlooking the Piazza dell'Orologio was constructed.

The photo shows the main façade on Via del Pellegrino. Although the façade is reminiscent of that of a church, its rows of domestic windows seem to contradict this impression. The main portion of the façade consists of five bays, closely set with pilasters, arranged over a concave plan. But the central bay of the lower tier is curved outward, while that of the upper tier opens into a niche of considerable depth. Crowning the façade rises the mighty pediment which, for the first time, combines curvilinear and angular movement.

View the ground plan of the whole complex built for the Congregation of St Philip Neri in Rome.

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