The Drawings and the Modine of Francesco Pieroni for the Ministero delle Finanze in Rome

The Drawings and the Modine of Francesco Pieroni for the Ministero delle Finanze in Rome

Liliana Ninarello (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6936-7.ch011
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The main focus of this chapter is the highly valued work done by the architect Francesco Pieroni at the Ministero delle Finanze in Rome. This contribution can to attribute to Pieroni various drawings and numerous modine, i.e. real scale cardboard templates of various shapes used in the realization phases of the mouldings. Pieroni's activity represents, in the Roman context, one of the first applications of typical 16th century mouldings, to modern and prefabricated metal bar structures, spreading in the 70's of the 19th century. The construction companies were resilient to agree for changes in building techniques due to a lack of expertise. The realization of the Ministero is a case study of this phenomenon. The archival research developed casts new light on the numerous modifications carried out by Peroni during construction phases, which demonstrate the accuracy employed by the architect in designing the stuccos. The chapter analyses two different types of archive documents: the report Spoglio modificazioni lavori di stucco, and the examples of modine authored by Pieroni.
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The role that the architect Francesco Pieroni (1829-1883) played in the planning and construction of the Ministero delle Finanze in Rome should be rethought carefully. Until now, the bibliography generically attributed to him the design of most of the decorations on the facades of the ministerial building. However, some new documentary findings highlight his fundamental contribution throughout the Ministero construction process. The aim of this article is to study in detail the work of Pieroni in designing the numerous mouldings and modine, i.e. full-scale cardboard used in the modelling of the mouldings.1

The importance of the Francesco Pieroni’s activity, in the Roman cultural environment of the late nineteenth century, is mainly given by his attitude towards novel technologies. Namely, his work represents one of the first examples of architectural design in which a sixteenth century decorative apparatus, made of stuccos, was employed to hide modern supporting structures made of metallic prefabricated components. (Figure 1)

Figure 1.

Ministero delle Finanze: perspective view of the Central Body building on via XX Settembre


Key Terms in this Chapter

Metallic Prefabricated Components: Cast iron columns, and double T beams in “iron” (steel) make up the structure in a light frame system that distributes the loads. The metal profiles were prefabricated by the new Italian and foreign steel industries, at the service of the courtyards. The metal profiles were also inserted to support the projections and mouldings.

Moulding: Shaped element that upholster the architectural structure. The moulding can have rectilinear or curvilinear profile variously worked. It is a decorative element that protrudes from the surface of the wall and fears an overhang. decorative apparatus, made of stuccos.

Finishing: In the buildings, finishing works cover the structure making it ready for use. The plasters and the stuccos are among the main finishes, like as colourings, the floors and the wall claddings.

Modine: Cardboard models of various shapes used in the realization stages of the mouldings. The decorator creates the matrix with which to shape the stucco, preforming an architectural decoration, following the profile indicated by the modine. The use of these shapes is the connecting instrument between the design phase, developed by the architect, and the construction phase, carried out by the workers.

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