Façade (1743) of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.
Born in Florence, he began to work in that city as a pupil of Giovanni Battista Foggini. In 1717 he moved to Rome, to continue his apprentice studies. His first important work was realized in Naples, for example, his commissions for the richly decorated chapel in Palazzo Cellamare in Via Chiaia, and its rusticated gate to the gardens with a scrolling pediment and a sculptured cartouche of arms, (1726—1727); Fuga's patron was the infamous ambassador, Antonio del Giudice, Prince of Cellamare. Fuga also travelled to Palermo in 1729-1730 in connection with a projected bridge over the Milicia.
Work in Rome
After his return to Rome, he was nominated the architect of the pontifical palaces by his Florentine countryman Pope Clement XII Corsini, a position which Benedict XIV confirmed. Fuga's masterwork is the palazzo-like screening facade he erected in front of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (1741–1743). A similar project, as if it were a dry run for the greater project, is the facade he provided for Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In both cases, care was taken not to mar the mosaics of the medieval fronts that still lie behind Fuga's screens, which provided a narthex for each ancient basilica.
Among his other major commissions in Rome was the Palazzo della Consulta (1732–1735), which, like the nearby Palazzo Quirinale, fronts the Piazza di Monte Cavallo and housed the tribunal termed the Consulta and the secretariat of the Brevi as well as two corps of papal guards. Fuga ordered the two-storey facade with a piano nobile whose windows have low arched heads set in fielded panels, over a ground floor with low mezzanine. On the lower storey, the panels have channeled rustication and rusticated quoins at the corners. Pilasters are applied only to the central three-bay block, which barely projects, and to the corners.
The little church of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte (1733–37) was a small project undertaken for the Compagna della buona morte whose role since 1538 had been to give decent burial to the unclaimed corpses of Rome. Fuga was himself a member of this confraternity which possessed its own coemeterium on the banks of the Tiber behind, lost to the nineteenth-century construction of the Lungotevere. The previous church of 1575 was demolished in 1733, and Fuga gave the new one an elliptical plan under an elliptical dome. On its crowded façade a triangular pediment encloses a segmental one, both cornices breaking forwards at the center and at the corners; pairs of columns fill the narrow recesses between the wide central bay and the corners, which are emphasized with stacked pilasters. Skulls wreathed with laurel serve as brackets for the pediment of the door.
Various transformations were effected for the relatives of the Corsini pope in the Palazzo Riario alla Lungara, which had been modified for Christina, queen of Sweden in the previous century but became now the Palazzo Corsini alla Lungara, purchased on 27 July 1736 by Don Neri and Don Bartolomeo Corsini, for 70 thousand scudi from Duke Riario. After Christina's death in 1689, her sculpture gallery and her library were emptied. Fuga was called in to pull together the 15th and 16th-century amenagements for the Corsini brothers, works which took from 1736 to 1758 before all was finally completed. The Corsini retained Christina's bedroom just as she had left it, and the "urban" front in piazza Fiammetta had to be left untouched, but the weight of her library had produced cracks in the vaulting below it, and repairs to the existing structure were not finished until 1738 (Holste). Fuga worked on the garden front of the palazzo, beginning with work on the library wing for Neri Corsini. In 1751-53 he added an identical central block containing a theatrical divided staircase, lit with large windows that looked onto the garden parterres, which had been modified and brought up to date in 1741. Then the two were linked with a ground-floor portico. In the interiors, fuga managed in innovative ways to maintain a separation of the functional service circulation from the suites of parade rooms.
The church of San Apollinare (about 1748) was another commission. He completed the Palazzo del Quirinale and the adjoining building housing the Segretario delle Cifre and the extended new wing (the Manica Lunga).
Work in Kingdom of Naples
In 1748, he was called to Naples along with a team under Luigi Vanvitelli, to labor for the new Bourbon King of Naples Charles III, King of the Two Sicilies. Here Fuga worked as one of the court architects in renovations to the Naples, where the king and his progressive minister Bernardo Tanucci were changing the face of the city, opening new neighborhoods, driving new arterial avenues and promoting some social and economic modernizations in the backward kingdom. The immediate part of the urbanistic planning involved, for example, the construction of the colossal Albergo dei Poveri with a gray stucco front extending of 354 m. It was intended as a hospice to shelter 8,000 poor from all over the kingdom, (segregated by sex and age) but especially the "street people" of Naples, a project which was realized only in part. Fuga's final design, centered on a hexagonal church, devoted one courtyard to each of the intended social classes— men, women, boys and girls—each with their separate entrance. Construction was begun in July 1751. After the departure of King Charles to take over the crown of Spain, work slowed, and when it finally ceased in 1819, three of Fuga's five courts were completed, as they may be seen today, damaged by the earthquake of 1980 and closed (Serafino).
A second project with an enlightened social cast was the Cimitero delle 366 Fosse ("Cemetery of the 366 Fossae" one for each day of the year) not far from the Albergo, for which Fuga succeeded in obtaining assent from Ferdinand IV in 1762 (Serafino). This project systematized the daily burden of corpses of the poorest Neapolitans that were delivered to the Ospedale and buried in various modes around the outskirts of the city. The cemetery functioned until 1890.
In a third vast public project, Fuga also designed the Granili (1779?), which were more than immense public granaries; they also contained a military arsenal and a ropewalk (since demolished). And a third Bourbon public venture was the ceramic manufactory adjoining the park of Caserta (1771–1772).
In Palermo, the Gothic and Romanesque cathedral complex had developed damage from earthquakes. In 1767, Fuga was entrusted with the reconstruction in the interior, the small subsidiary domes over the nave chapels, and the addition of a tall dome over the crossing. The interior has an unexpected simplicity relative to the eclectic jumbles of styles visible from the exterior.
In Naples, Fuga was called upon in 1768 to transform the grand reception room of the Royal Palace, which had been in general disuse since the court had removed to Caserta, into a court theatre. For private clients he constructed numerous palazzi, notably Palazzo Aquino di Caramanico and Palazzo Giordano, as well as villas for aristocratic patrons. He designed the Villa Favorita at Ercolano, in a manner traditional in Italy, has one façade directly on the street, the other giving on to extensive gardens. In his last work, the facade of the Church of the Gerolamini (circa 1780), which belies its date, he remained essentially a fully Baroque architect.
The paving in colored marbles he designed in 1761 for the basilica of Santa Chiara no longer exists, but his Chapel of the Regi Depositi (1766) remains (Serafino)
- The Villa La Favorita was acquired and expanded by the Royal Family.
- Alfonso Gambardella, curator. 2001. Ferdinando Fuga. 1699 - 1999 Roma, Napoli, Palermo Acts of a colloquium, Naples 1999.
- Paolo Giordano, 1997. Ferdinando Fuga a Napoli. (Naples:Edizioni Del Grifo)
- Francesco Lucarelli, 1999. La vita e la morte, dal Real Albergo dei Poveri al Cimitero della 366 Fosse. (Naples:Edizioni Del Grifo)
|Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia article about Ferdinando Fuga.|
- Rosario Serafino, "Ferdinando Fuga ed il curioso cimitero delle "366 fosse" a Napoli"
- Final design for the Palazzo dellaConsultà, 1732
- "Chiesa di S. Maria dell'Orazione e Morte"
- Marc Cogan, Via Chiaia Palazzo Cellamare's pedimented doorway
- Riccardo Cigola, "Chiesa di S.Maria dell'Orazione e Morte"
- "Palazzo Corsini: la storia"
- Holste, Roma, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, F.N. 13835: Fuga design in connection with Palazzo Corsini alla Lungara. Details of the construction campaigns.
- Fuga's Villa La Favorita: Views in an album of photos of the Khedive and his family.
- Albergo dei Poveri in Around Naples Encyclopedia