Why Rome? part 2

My kids and I love the book ‘This is Rome’ by Miroslav Sasek more than any other bedtime reading. One of their favorite pages is the one dedicated to the piazza of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine. They love it–as do many of the people who visit it–for the view of St. Peter’s that can be seen through the keyhole of the entry portico to the villa.

As the only major built work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, it is one of Rome’s least well-known small masterpieces. This entry documents a visit we made to the grounds of the villa (residence of the Grand Commander of the Knights of Malta) and its church, S. Maria in Priorato, in 2012.

Top: M. Sasek's 'This is Rome 
Bottom: His drawing of S. Maria in Priorato and its keyhole.

View of Rome and St. Peter's from the terrace garden on the Aventine.

Students drawing in the Piazza of S. Maria in Priorato, June 2012

Detail of the Entry Portico of the Villa of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine.

     L. Michael Djordjevitch drawing in the piazza           R. Detail of the church door

                   L. James Diaz drawing the church facade   R. Mike Zaragosa drawing the piazza

David Markel sketching the church facade, 2012

Joseph Tralongo skecthing the church facade, 2012

                 L. Suzanne Smith drawing the church        R.Nina Roefaro drawing the interior

                   L. Detail of the apse                                   R. Detail of interior capitol

                  L. Keystone detail                                      R. Occulus detail

Mark Hendricks drawing the interior of the church, 2012

Garden gate, Villa of the Knights of Malta, 2012

Residence of the Grand Commander of the Knights of Malta, 2012

Sara Kramer drawing in the garden

Garden loggia with the arms of the Knights of Malta

View of the garden of the Villa of the Grand Commander

Sketch of a detail of the piazza, Richard Cameron, 2012

View of St. Peter's through the keyhole

Monument to Giovanni Batista Piranesi in S. Maria in Priorato

48 Hours in Paris

Jason had 48 hours in Paris, here's where else he went:

Saint Germain

 Cathedral Notre Dame


 The Napoleon Apartments, Louvre

Palais Garnier


Reshuffling the Office

Somehow we all survived moving half of the office around the corner--I think the dog's face says it all though.


Why Rome? An Eternal Question

Almost every year someone asks me the question: ‘Why Rome?’

They usually mean why do I go there almost every year. The answer to the question is larger than that though­–why Rome after in the end for all of us? Why Rome for the artists of the renaissance, for the Grand tourists, for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for two centuries.  The simple answer is that since the study of art is the study of its great masterpieces. There is a higher concentration of those masterpieces in Rome than anywhere else in the world. This series of posts is going to focus on the many trips I’ve made over the years with students and colleagues, and some of the less well-known and less easily accessible masterpieces we’ve visited and drawn. I hope you enjoy them! For those of you who have been on these trips, or who have seen these places, please send me any photos or sketches and we’ll post them in the follow-up section. The tradition continues with the Beaux-Arts Academy in Utah. For details of this year’s trip see the links below.

PROCESS: Making Faces

Below is the first in a series of blog entries covering our process of bringing art and architecture from concept to reality.
 Reference Image: The original reference for this watercolor came from a
window panel found at the Villa Farnesina in Rome.
 Pencil Sketch
Pencil Underlay Drawing
Final Watercolor
…and then we quickly made this serious but festive painting lose all integrity by creating decks of playing cards with it!


Great Moments in Rejected Design: Idlewild

Our designs get thrown out, revised and passed on every day. Some for the better--but not always. The project below is part of our ongoing blog series that digs through the Atelier flat files to share design that would otherwise never see the light of day. Enjoy!

The design process was splintering in two directions: 50's modern to match the hotel's aesthetic or JFK's bird sanctuary past. The client ultimately decided on the later, but we still think the graphic interpretation of the Pei Cobb Freed tower was a pretty great option as well.

Details: Petit Palais Arcade Floor

48 hours in Paris: The Petit Palace

Going on 4 hours of redeye sleep, armed with an iPhone, a baguette and 3 cafe au laits, The Petit Palais was first on Jason's list.

Designed by Charles Girault for the 1900 exhibition, the Beaux-Arts palace was stunning. It's immaculate, free and seemingly forgotten about-- I had the place to myself! (There might have been 2 dozen other people there) The giant gilded repousse doors, the Juvarra-esque baroque plaster ceilings and the surprisingly intimat natural oak paneled rooms hit every one of my soft spots. I told them I'd take it, and am moving in at the end of the month! House warming party date tbd--send gifts to the current Atelier Williamsburg studio.