Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


Dr. C. Cody Barteet


This thesis focuses on the pontificate of Sixtus V (1585-1590) in an effort to better understand the austere style of architecture utilized at the Lateran Palace, as well as to uncover the sources for the topographical views featured in the Lateran fresco program. To reassert the sanctity of the Catholic Church and Rome as caput mundi (capital of the world), Pope Sixtus V instituted a stylistic break from the visual aesthetics of the cinquecento—a move which recent scholarship has judged negatively, specifically in regard to the Lateran Palace. Looking toward other European Renaissance centers, I suggest that the ideological tenets of Philip II’s Escorial (1563-1584), a metaphor for the

Spanish imperial state and Counter-Reformation agenda, was a source of influence for the Lateran project. Reduced classical vocabulary and the cleansing of ornament present in the exterior design and the topographical views made for the interior of the Lateran created a uniquely Italian understanding of the built forms and views Sixtus witnessed in Spain, thus serving as an example of the reversing of the standard, privileging model of Italy as the artistic center of sixteenth-century Europe.



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