The quirky lantern that crowns the Baroque church of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza is a striking feature of the Roman skyline. It was the creation of one of the most original minds in the history of architecture, Francesco Borromini (1599-1667).
The lantern is topped with a wrought-iron flame-like structure, which, according to the Iconologia (1593) by Cesare Ripa (a favourite source for 17th century artists), represents the desire for knowledge inspired by the intellect, while the flaming torches around the base stand for knowledge itself. These are appropriate references for a church belonging to La Sapienza, the university of Rome.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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