St. Peter's Baldacchino

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Bernini, St. Peter's Baldacchino, 1634

Arguably Bernini's greatest architectural achievement at St. Peter's, the construction of this enormous bronze Baldacchino was not only because of Bernini's talent. Between 1624 and 1633, Bernini and Borromini worked together on multiple projects as rivals, this including the St. Peter's Baldacchino. This specific piece that these artists created working together marked the first great emblem of Baroque, art that included emotion and drama. But, like most of the works Bernini and Borromini worked on together, Borromini received little recognition.

A baldacchino is an ornamental structure resembling a canopy used especially over an altar or a cloth canopy fixed or carried over an important person or sacred object. The baldacchino, as described by Jake Morrissey, "does for the interior of St. Peter's what Michelangelo's dome does for the exterior: It proclaims the miracle that lies beneath it." However, unlike the conventional baldachin, the baldacchino in St. Peter's is stable while being light and huge at the same time. Also, this baldachin was designed to mark the tomb of Saint Peter and the high altar in the basilica.

Each of the four marble columns' bases supporting the canopy are called "plinths" and are decorated on the outside by the Barberini's family coat of arms, representing the three bees of the Barberini family. Although all of the shields look identical, when examined closely, the female face changes dramatically. Overall, the baldacchino was created to be a visual mediation between the height of people and the size of the building.

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