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The architects - Borromini and Wren

Detail. Francesco Borromini. Opera. Rome: Sebastiani Giannini, 1720.deB Ie/1720/B
Detail. Francesco Borromini. Opera. Rome: Sebastiani Giannini, 1720.
deB Ie/1720/B

Master of the Baroque

In 1632 Francesco Borromini (1599-1667) was appointed to the post of architect to the Archiginnasio (later the University) of Rome, called the Sapienza. Influenced by Michelangelo's work and borrowing ideas from classical antiquity, Borromini carried out work on the church of St Agnese in Piazza Navona, the church of San Carlino alle Fontane, the church of the Collegio di Propaganda, the restoration of San Giovanni in Laterano, and the church of La Sapienza. It was the last, according to Wittkower, that was his masterpiece: ‘where his style reached its zenith and where he played all the registers at his command.' The posthumous publication of the Opera in 1720 did much to elevate Borromini's reputation; he is now recognized as one of the great masters of Baroque architecture. This large folio is a first edition and is a recent addition to Special Collections.

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Christopher Wren: architect & inventor

Parentalia is chiefly devoted to the life of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). It is divided into two parts, his life and scientific works and his life and architectural works. The material was mainly collected by his son, Christopher, and remained unpublished at his death in 1747. It represents Wren Senior's only known writings on architecture to survive.

One of England's greatest architects, Wren was also interested in technological improvements, especially practical, utilitarian projects. His ‘inventions' included an astronomical instrument and a pneumatic engine (invented at age 13), a ‘goniscope' to measure angles, a ‘weather wheel' and a weather clock, and an instrument to write double. He even dabbled in ways of staying under water longer. This publication of 1750 once belonged to Nathaniel Lloyd, the English architectural historian.

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