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Two Pozzo Masterpieces Online

By June 17, 2007

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Image  2007 HAL9000 Srl; Used with permission Sue Chastain, who writes the wonderful About.com Graphics Software site, recently sent along a press release she'd received because she felt it would be of particular interest to art history enthusiasts. Sue was absolutely correct and we are all in her debt for such generosity. The treats contained in the release are a two-pronged Italian Baroque-fest, and I'm delighted to share the art link love with you.

An outfit called HAL9000 has stitched together a 9.9 billion pixel digital image of the fresco Apotheosis of St. Ignatius by Italian painter, architect, stage designer and Jesuit lay brother Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709). If ever a fresco deserved (1) the word "masterpiece" and (2) to be shot on such a monumentally detailed scale, it is this one. Apotheosis... occupies the barrel vault ceiling in the nave of S Ignazio di Loyola, Rome and is a must-see for anyone who's ever wondered what the word quadratura means.

Pozzo was born in Trento and received his earliest training as a painter there. He then worked in Como and Milan, where he joined the Society of Jesus in 1665. After his three-year novitiate in Genoa ended in 1668 the artist traveled frequently, both to study art and for Church painting commissions that grew more important with each new job. In 1681 the Order summoned Pozzo to Rome, and he spent the next 21 years there painting, designing, writing and, quite importantly, teaching art at the Collegio Romano, a Jesuit school of "...grammar, humanities, and Christian doctrine" founded in 1551. (Part of the school complex, S Ignazio di Loyola was built, from 1612 to 1650, on a scale large enough to serve as the Collegio's new auditorium.)

Image  2007 HAL9000 Srl; Used with permission

It was during this Roman period that Pozzo painted the Apotheosis and also wrote his illustrated treatise Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum. Both of these works are simply stunning -- a person could study either and soak up the entire science of perspective like a sponge. Pozzo was truly a master painter and an *amazing* draftsman.

Our treats, then, are that both the fresco and a page-by-page view of Perspectiva... are freely available online, courtesy of HAL9000. One can zero in on any painted detail contained within the entire 6440 square feet of fresco by repeatedly zooming closer toward any of those 9.9 billion pixels. To see the painting and view (or even read, if your Latin is good) the book, follow this link, wait for the Flash video to load and then click the tiny link (underneath the image) that reads "click here to visit 9.9 GPixel web page." You'll then be able to view the image at your pleasure, and can access the drawings in Perspectiva... from a link near the bottom of your screen.

Thanks again, Sue, for pointing us to this awesome experience!

Image credits:

Floor-level view of the nave, barrel vault above
Church of S Ignazio di Loyola, Rome
2007 HAL9000 Srl

Andrea Pozzo (Italian, 1642-1709)
Glory of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Missionary
Work of the Jesuit Order
(called Apotheosis of
St. Ignatius
), 168894
17 x 35 m (56 x 115 ft.)
Church of S Ignazio di Loyola, Rome
2007 HAL9000 Srl


July 24, 2007 at 11:19 am
(1) Virginia Poston says:

That is so incredible. I’m passing this along to a friend who teaches Baroque art. (Now, if we can just get a better projector in our classroom.)

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