Carlo Marchionni and Saint Peter’s Sacristy: Excavating the Past

From November 9, 2005 to February 19, 2006, the Canadian Centre for Architecture presents the exhibition Carlo Marchionni and Saint Peter’s Sacristy in the hall cases. In 2003, the CCA acquired two exceptional drawings by the 18th-century architect around which this exhibition is organized. The sacristy drawings are superb examples of draftsmanship in themselves, and are examined together with related drawings, engravings, and photographs to cast light on a period in which new attitudes toward the past were emerging.

Carlo Marchionni (1702-1786) executed the drawings for the sacristy of Saint Peters’ in Rome between 1780 and 1784, during the papacy of Pius VI (1775-1799). They show in great detail the interior proposed for the raised galleries that were to connect the new sacristy to the church. The galleries are articulated by typical Roman Baroque elements pilasters, engaged columns, projections, polychrome marble along with fragments recovered from monuments on the site, which the architect integrated into overdoors and the piers between windows. To explain the context of this architecture with inserted fragments, the drawings are placed in relation to other works from the CCA collection. These include Marchionni’s initial sketches for the project of the new sacristy, prints and photographs showing the historical topography of the site from Antiquity to the Renaissance, Marchionni’s work at the Villa Albani, and the sculpture galleries of the Vatican Museum, whose construction coincided with that of the new sacristy. Both the Villa Albani and the Vatican Museum held extensive collections of antiquities which were organized thematically, anticipating 19th century museology.

The CCA acquired the drawings by Carlo Marchionni through the Parnassus Foundation, courtesy of Raphael and Jane Bernstein, and Marjorie Bronfman.

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