Filippo Juvarra

Filippo Juvarra

Filippo Juvarra, (March 7 , 1678 - January 31, 1736) was an Italian architect and scene designer with a cosmopolitan outlook.


Juvarra was born in Messina to a family of goldsmiths and engravers. After formative years with his family in Sicily, where he designed Messina's festive settings for the coronation of Philip V of Spain and Sicily (1705), Juvarra moved to Rome in 1704; there he studied architecture with Carlo and Francesco Fontana.

The first phase of his independent career was occupied with designs for ceremonies and celebrations and especially with designs for theaters. Juvarra's set designs incorporate"scena per angolo" literally 'scenes at an angle.' The exact origin of this style is unclear. Ferdinando Bibiena claims to have invented it in his treatise "Architettura Civile"(1711), however, it was clearly in use before then, including in the works of Juvarra. This style differed from the one point perspective sets that had been developed in the sixteenth century, and had reached their apogee in the seventeenth century, see for example the work of Giacomo Torelli. A couple of early drawings dated 1706 are associated with the Teatro S. Bartolomeo, Naples (1706), though whether he actually completed set designs for the theater is unknown. The majority of his work in theatre and set design was in Rome under the patronage of Cardinal Ottoboni. He assisted in the rebuilding of the Cardinal's private theatr in the Palazzo della Cancelleria and also designed sets for operas performed within the theatre. The first opera for which Juvarra designed all the sets was "Costantino Pio". The libretto was by Cardinal Ottoboni and the music was by Carlo Francesco Pollarolli (c.1653 – 1723). It was premiered in 1709 and was one of the first operas to appear after the lifting of papal bans upon secular theatre, it also inaugurated Ottoboni’s newly renovated private theatre. He also worked on set designs for performances sponsored by Ottoboni at the Teatro Capranica. His other main patron in Rome was Queen Maria Casimira, the widowed Queen of Poland, for whom Juvarra produced set designs for the operas held in her small domestic theatr in the Palazzo Zuccari. In 1713 a theater project took him to Genoa.

In 1706 Juvarra won a contest for the new sacristy at the St. Peter's, organized by Pope Clement XI, and became a member of the prestigious Accademia di San Luca. In 1708 he created his first important non-theatrical architectural work, and the only one realized in Rome: the Antamoro Chapel in the church of San Gerolamo della Carità. Juvarra was also an engraver: his book of engravings of sculpted coats-of-arms appeared in 1711, "Raccolta di varie targhe fatte da professori primarii di Roma" [] . Juvarra's period of most intensive activity as an architect began in 1714, when after a sojourn in Messina, he moved to Piedmont where Victor Amadeus II of Savoy first employed him in a scenographic project, then named Juvarra the first architect of the court. The fame obtained here thanks to his talent and capacities determined his further activity at the richest noble and royal courts of Europe: in 1719 he was in Portugal, planning the palace at Mafra for Joao V (1719–20), after which he traveled to London and Paris.

Among numerous created or projected works in Turin are:
*Basilica di Superga (1715-1718) built on the high hill over Turin;
*Facade of the church Santa Cristina (1715-1718);
*Basilica della Natività
*Palazzo Madama in Turin
*Third enlargement of Turin to the west according to the orthogonal system introduced by Ascanio Vitozzi and Carlo di Castellamonte: the project including construction of palazzo Martini di Cigala (1716), of Quartieri Militari (1716-1728) and later of the church del Carmine (1732-1736), where the space is concentrated around the central hall with the scenographic effect of light falling from above.

Exploring more and more the original Italian and French traditions, Juvarra realized the facade and theatrical entrance staircase of the Palazzo Madama in Turin (1718-1721). For the Savoy royal family, he built the decorated hunting lodge called the Palazzina di Stupinigi (1729–1731). Juvarra and Johann Fischer von Erlach influenced one another through the medium of engravings.

In 1735 the architect was invited to Madrid by the Bourbon king of Spain, Felipe V, for whom he executed the projects for the Royal Palace, Granja de San Ildefonso and Palacio Real de Aranjuez, executed after the death of Juvarra by Giovanni Battista Sacchetti and other pupils. Another architect strongly influenced by Juvarra was Bernardo Vittone.

Juvarra died in Madrid in 1736. His work, along with much of Baroque architecture lost sheen with the rise of Neoclassicism. In 1994, a major exhibition of his designs was presented in Genoa and Madrid.


*cite book|first=R.|last=Pommer|year=1967|title=Eighteenth Century Architecture in Piedmont
*cite book|first=Gianfranco|last=Gritella|year=1992|title=Juvarra: L'architettura
*cite book|first=Mercedes|last=Viale Ferraro|year=1970|title=Filippo Juvarra: Scenografo e architetto teatrale|location=Turin|publisher=Fratelli Pozzo

External links

* [ "Scenografie di Juvarra"] it icon
* [ Riccardo Cigola, "F. Juvarra"]

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