Palazzo Spada

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Borromini, Palazzo Spada, 1652

By MISSY ROSENTHAL 

Borromini's Palazzo Spada excellently displays optical illusion as well as elegant design. The palazzo was originally purchased by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in 1632 to house his extensive art collection. Spada commissioned Borromini to design a sculpture Garden attached to the original palace. The garden or Galleria was completed over the year long period between 1652 and 1653. Borromini was allotted 8.82 meters for the project, however through optical illusion he created a design that seemed much more spacious. 

The architect designed short columns in the front of the corridor that progressively lengthened with a vanishing point at a sculpture. The arched roof and patterned floor in addition to the columns added to the perceived spaciousness. Borromini employed mathematicians to assist in the construction. The optical illusions in this work inspired Bernini later in his career. In conclusion, the Palazzo Spada masterfully employed the use of the optical illusion while staying true to Baroque Roman architecture. 

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