Roman Sacral Rococo architecture
and the fašade of Santa Maria della Quercia
The rococo style is a complicated chapter in the architectural development of 18th
century Rome. Almost always the church of Santa Maria Maddalena is presented as the only Roman example of sacral rococo architecture.
Although the fašade of Santa Maria Maddalena shows some features of the French rocaille
ornament, I maintain that the
only true rococo fašade belongs to the church of Santa Maria della Quercia.
The fašade of Santa Maria della Quercia is characterized by a subtle interaction of convex and concave elements. The central axis
of the fašade is convex, while the lateral axes are concave. In the lower storey, which has a high socle, the architect has applied
four slender pilasters with capitals inspired by the Corinthian order. The pilasters are pleated; the central ones more than the
lateral ones. The middle axis has a quatrefoil window, which is reminiscent of Gothic architecture. The cornice projects strongly.
In the upper story the classical order is totally abolished. On both sides of the rectangular window there are horizontal wall
bands. The fašade is crowned by an attic-resembling, partly semicircular, superstructure.
The fašade of Santa Maria della Quercia is an evident example of rococo architecture, because the architect almost totally
disregards the classical orders. He also puts much less emphasis on the structural elements, which gives the fašade an atectonic
impression. The architectural play between convex and concave forms endows the fašade an organic continuity, as well as elegance