Filippo Juvarra

Dates1678 - 1736
BornMessina, Italy
DiedMadrid, Spain

After working in his father's silversmith shop and being ordained a priest in 1703, the energetic and imaginative Filippo Juvarra began his architectural training at around age twenty-five. After moving to Rome, he studied under its leading Baroque architect and gained renown for his bold stage designs. During this period he created over a thousand drawings, including vast imaginary schemes, studies of real buildings, funeral decorations, coats of arms, and book illustrations.

Juvarra's great opportunity arrived in 1714. Named First Architect to the King of Sicily, who was also the duke of Savoy, Juvarra was charged with transforming Turin, Savoy's capital. His output was almost superhuman and contributed to his international reputation: sixteen palaces, eight churches, urban planning projects, interior decoration, and designs for furniture and church ornaments. Highly skilled painters, sculptors, and craftsmen from throughout Italy made his designs reality.

Juvarra's clear, elegant style included elaborate decoration that pointed toward the light-hearted Rococo. He was the first Italian architect since the Renaissance to show Northern European influence, creating airy, luminous, barrel-vaulted spaces inspired by German churches. In 1735 Philip V summoned Juvarra for work in Spain, where his sudden death cut short his career.