Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Trinita dei Monti Convent

Amazing day yesterday!

I went to the Trinita dei Monti Convent which is just at the top of the Spanish Steps. The church was beautiful in itself and actually had a welcoming feel, which quite a lot of the big churches in Rome don't have.

Anyway the convent is famous for it's frescoes. We were shown around by a really lovely nun who spoke very fast french so I couldn't catch her name. The first thing we saw is something I have wanted to see ever since David Spero (Photoworks Fellow 2009) showed me when he was telling us about his time in Rome - an anamorphic fresco of Saint Francis of Paula praying under a tree..It's amazing as it turns into a landscape as you walk down the corridor like this..






The next thing we saw was a catoptric sundial - which is a sundial filling an entire corridor where the sun enters through a small opening and hits some kind of optic and passes over the walls





Apart from being incredibly beautiful I am interested in both these frescoes in relation to my research project, as there does appear to be some kind of magic or illusion happening which I am surprised to find in a holy place...you'd think that they would have painted them out? The sundial has got signs of the zodiac all over the walls..

George sent me a lovely thing about sundials last night after I had told him about my day - it's so beautiful I have to share it..

'You talking about sundials reminded me of this story about Carl Linnaeus (1707-78), the man who classified plants. "At Uppsala he planted a clock garden or 'botanical sundial', marking each hour by clumps of plants that opened only at one particular time of day (according to the strength of the sun). The time could thus be 'read' by the rotating patches of open petals, and even by the release of flower perfumes ( such as tobacco plants in the early evening)." '

There were more things in the convent - a trompe-l'oeil fresco in the old dining hall of 'The Wedding at Canaan' by Pozzo


(please excuse my terrible image - it was so dark - but you get the idea..)

And then the last which was a completely bonkers room but fabulous - known as the 'Parrot Room' it was painted by Clerisseau around 1750 - over the top with rusticness..


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