Ospizio e Chiesa di S. Luigi della Nazione Francese (Book 9) (Map C2) (Day 4) (View C6) (Rione Sant'Eustachio)
France and Spain for two hundred years competed to gain influence
over Italy and Rome. This explains the number of churches and establishments
they had in Rome. Here Vasi shows the church of the French Nation, dedicated
to the French king Louis IX (click here for a list of national churches in Rome).
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Parte dell'Ospizio (Palazzo di S. Luigi); 2) Convento dei PP. Agostiniani;
3) Parte di Palazzo Patrizi. 2) is shown in another page. The map shows also 4) Palazzo Giustiniani;
5) S. Agostino; 6) S. Luigi de' Francesi; 7) Collegio Germanico.
The view is not much changed apart from the enlargements of Ospizio/Palazzo di S. Luigi (XIXth century) and of Collegio Germanico (late XVIIIth century). In both cases a large building replaced the small houses shown in the print.
The building of S. Luigi started in 1518 when Francis I was King of France. The façade was completed by Giacomo Della Porta in 1589. Francis I of the Valois family had for his symbol a salamander. This animal was thought to be able to walk across fire without getting burned. The statues are a later addition (S. Luigi is shown in the picture). On the top a very nice coat of arms of the French Royal Family. The two statues are thought to have originally been in Porta Pia, holding the coat of arms of Pius IV.
Palazzo di S. Luigi is a large block which reaches Corso del Rinascimento where Palazzo Madama is located. It is composed of buildings erected or modified in different periods. The sides on Piazza di S. Luigi and Corso del Rinascimento show the effects of rather anonymous XIXth century alterations (apart from the old XVIIth century entrance to the hospice). The front on Via di S. Giovanna d'Arco is by far more interesting with a complex façade designed by Carlo Bizzaccheri in 1707-12. The small 1748 map shows that there was a little square opposite the entrance to Palazzo di S. Luigi in Via Giovanna d'Arco. Today the narrowness of the street makes it difficult to notice the elaborate design of the central window.
The design of the main façade of Collegio Germanico was used as a pattern for its enlargement in 1776. The airy courtyard has an interesting baroque fountain. Notwithstanding the religious purpose of the building its entrance was decorated with a head of Bacchus, the god of wine.
Opposite S. Luigi two palaces show the change in the colours of Rome which has taken place in recent years. Palazzo Patrizi (left), now the Argentinian Embassy belonged to the Patrizi family, whose Villa is shown in plate 195. It shows fine baroque details and it has now been repainted sky-blue in line with the colours shown in many paintings by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691-1764). Palazzo Giustiniani by Carlo Fontana and Francesco Borromini has retained the traditional red colour, although less dark than in the past. Palazzo Patrizi was built in 1611, when it belonged to Olimpia Aldobrandini, niece of pope Clemens VIII, whose stars and stripes decorate the windows. It was acquired by the Patrizi in 1642. The image below shows also a detail of the Palazzo Patrizi shutters.
The Renaissance façade of S. Agostino was built by Giacomo da Pietrasanta
for Cardinal d'Estouteville in 1483 by using some of the travertine fallen blocks
from the Colosseum. The upper part reminds me of S. Maria Novella in Florence. S. Agostino
contains several interesting works of art, including a fresco by Raphael. Two statues in particular represent
Renaissance and Baroque styles: here below you can see Madonna del Parto (birth/delivery) by Jacopo Sansovino and S. Tommaso di Villanova by Melchiorre Caffà.
The statue by Sansovino is clearly inspired by classical models (a statue of Apollo according to M. D. Garrard) and it is framed in an altar similar to a triumphal arch. The group of S. Tommaso by Melchiorre Caffà, one of the most talented pupils of Bernini, is a perfect example of the Baroque attempt to create a link between the fictitious world of art and real life (R. Wittkower - Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750).
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 9: Chiesa della SS. Trinità e Ospizio dei Pellegrini
Next step in Day 4 itinerary: Convento di S. Agostino
Next step in tour of Rione Sant'Eustachio: Palazzo Madama
Go to or to Book 9 or to my Home Page on Baroque Rome or to my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.