Borromini, Francis

, an eminent French architect, was born at Bissona in the diocese of Como in 1599, and acquired great reputation at Rome, where he was more employed than any architect of his time. A great number of his works are seen in that city, but the major part are by no means models for young artists. Thjey abound in deviations from the received rules, and other singularities; but, at the same time, we cannot fail of perceiving in them talents of a superior order, and strong marks of genius. It was in his violent efforts to outdo Bernini, whose fame he envied, that he departed from that simplicity which is the true basis of the beautiful, in order to give extravagant ornaments in that taste; which have induced some to compare his style in architecture to the literary style of Seneca or Marini. With his talents, had he studied the great masters in their greatest perfections, he would have been the first architect of his time, merely by following their track; but he unfortunately deviated into the absurdities of singularity, and has left us only to guess from the college of the Propaganda, and a few other buildings at Rome, what he might have been. Even in his own time, his false taste was decried, and it is supposed that the mortifications he met with brought on a derangement of mind, in one of the fits of which he put an end to his life in 1667. From a vain opinion of his superiority, he is said to have destroyed all his designs, before his death, lest any other architect should adopt them. There was published, however, in 1725, at Rome, in Italian and Latin, his “Description of | the church of Vallicela,” which he built, with the plans and designs, and a plan of the church of Sapienza, at Rome. 1


Dict. Hist. D’Argenville.