Chapel of Saint John the Baptist

Chapel of Saint John the Baptist

Belém, Pará, Brazil

Religious Architecture

Located near the governors’ palace, the chapel of Saint John the Baptist replaced a former church made of rammed earth. According to an anonymous manuscript at the Ajuda Library, the work was begun in 1769 and it was solemnly inaugurated on 15th June 1772 by the governor Ataíde Teive. Monteiro Baena attributes the payment for the work to the cathedral’s parishioners. He mentions that the foundation stone was laid on 6th September, 1771, the work not being finished until 23rd June, 1777. The project for the chapel, signed by Landi, was offered to Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira who, in his own handwriting, added the notes to the floor plan, the drawing of the façade, a cross-section and the drawing of the quadratura painting of the chancel. The chapel shows a direct influence from 16th-century Bolognese architecture in the composition of the façade (consisting of two tiers framed by double columns embedded in the wall of the lower section and double pilasters on the upper floor), in the unusual centralised floor plan of the nave (an irregular octagon inserted in a square) and in the interior of the nave itself, featuring a cupola grooved by strips that are extended to become double pilasters in the corners of the octagonal prism. The painting in perspective on the back wall of the chancel, showing a clear Bibienesque influence (the scenographic style characteristic of the Bibiena brothers), which was known about through Landi’s drawing, was uncovered in 1996. More recently, two other, less elaborate quadratura paintings were revealed, framing the canvas paintings by Francisco de Figueiredo above the side altars of the nave.

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