Why is there only one angel, and not two, on the upper part of the facade of
Sant' Andrea della Valle?
The angel is the work of Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619-71), whose brief was to carve two angels. However, so the story goes, no less a figure than Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67) found fault with Fancelli's first effort. As a result, the temperamental sculptor huffily declared that if the Pope wanted a second angel, he would have to carve it himself!
The story is amusing but almost certainly apocryphal, as an engraving of Sant' Andrea della Valle, which was made by Giuseppe Vasi (1710-82) nearly a century later, clearly depicts two angels. What happened to the second angel, and when, remains a mystery!
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 and
small-group walking tours
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