Architectural history has been written from the perspective of the star architect, and the triumvirate of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Francesco Borromini, and Pietro da Cortona dominate the Italian Baroque. But many buildings do not conform to this standard. In the case of the Villa Pamphilj, scholars have long debated the attribution to Alessandro Algardi, Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, Girolamo Rainaldi, or even Bernini. Leone will argue that the design cannot be attributed to a single person and, instead, it represents the creative assimilation of ideas from architectural treatises. The result was a novelty: the first thorough adaptation of the northern Italian Renaissance villa in Rome. She contends that the patron, Camillo Pamphilj, inspired the design. Several architects, as well as the stucco sculptor Giovanni Battista Ferrabosco transformed his ideas into concrete form. Ultimately, the Villa Pamphilj is a collective enterprise rather than a singular creation.
Stephanie C. Leone is Professor of Art History and Chair of the Art, Art History and Film Department at Boston College. She specializes in the art and architecture of seventeenth-century Rome. She is working on a book provisionally titled “Pope Innocent X Pamphilj (1644–55): Building Baroque Rome.”