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Sant’Anna dei Bresciani

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Sant’Anna dei Bresciani was a 17th century confraternity church, now demolished, at the end of the Via di Bresciani off Via Giulia. This is in the rione Ponti.

HistoryEdit

The remote origins of the church lay in the plans of Pope Julius II for the layout of his new street, Via Giulia. On the west side of the street, north of the present Via del Gonfalone, he wished to build an enormous new Palazzo dei Tribunali for all the law-courts of Rome. This was to be called the Curia Iulia. Unfortunately, when the pope died his successors had no interest in the project, and the uncompleted works by Bramante were abandoned.

A confraternity of expatriates from Brescia, the Società dei Bresciani, bought part of the site and built the church in 1575 together with a small hospice for pilgrims from their native city. The original architect was Bramanete again, and the hospital building still exists on the left hand side of the street in the direction from Via Giulia.

The church was originally dedicated to Santi Faustino e Giovita, after the patron saints of Brescia: Faustinus and Jovita. However the edifice was modified by Carlo Fontana between 1669 and 1709, and this also entailed a re-dedication to St Anne.

It was right on the bank of the Tiber, and so was demolished in 1888 when the Lungotevere di Sangallo was built.

LocationEdit

If you go down the Via dei Bresciani from the Via Giulia, you will find that the street turns left to join the Via del Gonfalone. Where it does, there is a retaining wall beyond which is a small car park. The Lungotevere is beyond that. The wall marks the façade of the church, and the car park its site. The end of the apse was at the present line of the kerb of the Lungotevere, although the original floor level of the church was that of the Via dei Bresciani.

It would have been possible to save the church by building a massive retaining wall by its apse, but it was obviously cheaper to demolish it and raise the ground level.

AppearanceEdit

This church was a sad loss, as it was richly built and decorated.

The plan was based on a square domed crossing, to which was attached an aisleless nave with two bays and two side chapels in niches on each side. Off the crossing on each side was an external chapel, giving the plan of a Latin cross. The presbyterium was in a semi-circular apse, on the other side of which was the river.

The façade survives in old photographs. It had two storeys in travertine limestone, with only one entrance. The first storey was rather simple, having four Doric pilasters in two pairs supporting an entablature with a dedicatory inscription on its frieze. In between the two pairs was the entrance, having a pair of Ionic semi-columns supporting a triangular pediment raised on plinths. The tympanum of the pediment containted a device of two crossed palm branches, alluding to the original dedication.

The second storey was more complex in design. It had three vertical zones of equal width, and the central one was recessed. The two outer zones had a pair each of Corinthian pilasters, set on a high plinth above the entablature of the first storey and doubletted around the corners. These supported an entablature broken by the recessing of the central zone, and over this was a small triangular pediment lacking a cornice and which was only supported by the inner two pilasters. The roofline had five flaming torch finials.

The central zone of the second storey had a very tall round-headed window, which started at the cornice of the entablature of the first storey and hence cut through the plinth on which the pilasters of the second storey were set. On this plinth was a pair of thin Corinthian semi-columns flanking the window, reaching up to a pair of small plinths supporting an architrave at the level of the capital bases of the main pilasters. Above this architrave, reaching up into the tympanum of the pediment, was a large panel with a very interestingly curved boundary as if two logarithmic spirals were joined. This panel or tondo was supported by a pair of putti. At the end of the church's life it only contained an inscription Deo sacrum ("Holy to God"), but obviously it was intended to contain a fresco.

Inside, the altarpiece of St Anne on the main altar was of the school of Federico Barocci, and other altarpieces were noted as being by Francesco Cozza, Luigi Gentile and Girolamo Muziano.

External linksEdit

"Romeartlover" web-page

De Alvariis gallery on Flickr

Nolli map (look for 559)

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