Star way of Giovanni Maria Bernardoni

Valiancin Kalnin

This year there will be 400 years from the day when Giovanni Maria Ber­nardoni the famous Italian architect who worked in Belarus has died. Last twenty years we can see increasing interest in work of the Italian master. The reason for this interest is linked to the discovering of the architect drawing collection related to Belarus and dated XVI—XVII in the V. I. Vernadsky National Ukrainian Library in Kiev. Belarusian scientists Heorhi Halen­čanka and Tamara Habruś who first studied this collection say that most of the drawings were done by Bernardoni himself.

An anthology of articles L’architetto Gian Maria Bernardoni sj tra l’Italia e le terre dell’Europa centro–orientale dedicated to work of G. M. Bernardoni was published in Rom in 1999. Acquaintance with these articles and pre­sentation of own obser­vations by the author of this elaboration allow us to see the life and work of Giovanni Maria Bernardoni in a new perspective.

First documented appearance of G. M. Bernardoni in Rom was recorded in 1564 when he was 23 years old and has been working as a mason for ten years. Being member of the Order of Jesuits he participated in construction of different buildings for the Order in Rom, Milan, Florence, Neapol, and on the Sardinia Island.  In Italy Bernardoni masters his knowledge in math, tea­ches construction skills to his assistants, creates own sketches of churches and buildings for the Order of Jesuits. His critical atti­tude toward the comments of Jesuit authorities on his projects reveals his level of professionalism.

In 1583 the board of the Order of Jesuits sends Bernardoni to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Reč Paspalitaja) where he stayed for the rest of his life. Here the architect leads designing, planning, and construction of buildings for the Order in Lublin, Poznań, Kalisz, Niasviž, and Kraków.

In 1586 the architect goes to Niasviž where located a residence of the prince Radzivil „Orphan“ the biggest magnate of the Commonwealth. Bernardoni lived there for 13 years. He managed the construction of Jesuit College and completed pro­ject of Corpus Christi Church — the first building in Baroque style on the territory of the Commonwealth. After completion of main structure of this church Bernardoni moves to Kraków in 1599 to lead the construction of St. Peter & St. Paul Jesuit church. Here he died in 1605.

At the end of this article there is a detailed genesis analysis of the architect drawing collection from Kiev dated XVI—XVII. The author per­formed study of text graphology, sketch graphics, correlation of paper production dates with time when drawn constructions were built and Ber­nardoni’s life phase.  As a result, the author demonstrates that the architect drawing album was created not by Bernardoni himself, but by one of his disciples, possibly, by Jan Fran­kiewicz. Jan Frankiewicz continued Bernar­doni’s work in Niasviž and later became the author and the head of St. Kazimir Jesuit Church construction in Vilnia.