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Italy 2010: St. Peter’s Square, Vatican.

November 17, 2010

St. Peters’ Square is a magnificent place. How and what to sketch of the Square is challenging. Daphne and I toured the Square and the Basilica, including the beautiful Sistine Chapel ceiling, and while touring, what to sketch was in my mind every step of the way. Features of the Basilica and the colonnade, for me personally, are iconic elements that identify the stately image of the Vatican and psychologically set it apart from other political nation-states. I discovered the juxtaposition of these elements at the south-western section of the Square; the Basilica perspective tapering off to the east while the colonnade seem to draw attention to the exceptional entrance and the impressive dome.

This image is a statement of an architectural masterpiece. The colonnade seems to display a ‘power’ of authority, reverence and strength. The vast open space circumscribed by the colonnade adds an expectation of tradition, procession and precision. Add to these are the immense scale of the structural elements as they seem to dwarf visitors and spectators. I imagine that during any official ceremony you will be overwhelmed by the majestic imagery of the proceedings in such settings.

To capture the spatial ‘spirit’ of the Square that lay before me, and of which I am now settled in, I first sketched the statues at the roof of the colonnade, establishing a scale for the composition to fit my sketchbook page. This neatly led to details of the parapet, the capitals and then to the columns below. The finished sketch may seem complex and daunting, but by scaling and sketching the elements of the building in a consecutive way, the process becomes understandable.  

  1. sonnymanuel permalink

    Nice one. Good to see this today in your blog…the Dedication of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  2. Thanks for visiting Sonny looking forward to your sketchbook too. Experiencing the Square was truly a ‘spiritual’ event. My mind raced through times when I see the Pope at the podium addressing multitude of Christians on TV. Such gathering should be all inspiring.

  3. Harlan permalink

    Wow. Great sketch.

    • It was good to travel in Italy. We flew to Rome, took the train in Venice and then later on to Florence and back to Hong Kong. It was a chance to sketch some interesting places.

  4. Interesting to note that in 1546 when Antonio de Sangello the then architect of the Basilica died, Pope Paul III appointed Michelangelo as the chief architect. This commission occupied Michelangelo for the final years of his life. Thirty years after his death in 1564, the dome was finally completed; a powerful edifice on the skyline of the Vatican.

  5. Ron permalink

    ROMA AMOR, the devine city…

    “Visiting churches and palaces, all of the ruins and the pillars,
    I, a responsible man, profit from making this trip.
    With my business accomplished, ah, then shall only one temple,
    AMOR’s temple alone, take the initiate in.
    Rome, thou art a whole world, it is true, and yet without love this
    World would not be the world, Rome would cease to be Rome…”

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