Plautilla Bricci is best known for designing the Chapel of Saint Louis in Rome.  The beautiful design of the chapel shows us that Plautilla was very creative and very skilled.  Although she was a painter she was also the first woman of her era who was well known for her architecture, and her reputation as an architect has carried on until present day.


Plautilla Bricci was born in Rome on August 13, 1616.  Her father, Giovanni Bricci was a musician and a well known painter.  She also had a brother named Basilio, who like herself, was a painter and an architect.

It is believed that most of her work was credited to male architects of her time.  However, her two most recognized commissions are documented in Rome's history.  They were both commissioned by Elipidio Benedetti.  The first commission in 1663, was the Villa Benedetti located outside of Rome.  This was built for Elpidio Benedetti, who worked as an agent for Cardinal Jules Mazarin. 

Originally, credit for the architectural work on the villa was given to Plautilla's brother, who was her assistant on this design.  However, the contracts for the building and all the paintings inside, found in archives in Rome, show that, in fact, it was Plautilla who designed the building.  It is believed that Benedetti was afraid to admit that the villa was designed by a woman until he saw how much people admired the design and beauty of his mansion. 

The villa was so beautiful and filled with detail that in 1667, Benedetti, using a nom de plume published a guide book about the villa that explained in great detail different views of the building with all the intricate work that went into it, along with giving credit to Plautilla for her architectural work.  Benedetti's mansion was destroyed in 1849 by fire

The second commission was the design of the Chapel of Saint Louis (San Luigi dei Francesi) in 1672, Rome.  The elegance of the chapel shows her connection to the outdated form of the Roman High Baroque.  The entryway to the chapel is a beautiful arch that is decorated with beautiful drapery and carvings of figures that resemble those in the Vatican Palace, located in Rome.  The oval cupola is overlaid with decorated plaster designs that span the entire chapel.  The alter piece has a concave frame that has colorful marble wings throughout the whole frame.

Oddly enough, Plautilla's great achievement of designing this chapel is almost over shadowed by her painting of Saint Louis that hangs above the alter.  This painting, which is the only painting of hers that survives to this day is very plain and lifeless compared to her architecture work.

In 1677, Plautilla received a gift from Benedetti.  He rewarded her great work by giving her a house that he owned, located in the Trastevere quarter in Rome.

No other works, either painting or architectural, by Plautilla are documented.  It was believed that she designed the Palazzo Testa-Piccolomini in Rome.  However, recently there were documents published that proved Filippo Barigioni was the architect who actually designed it.  His style mimicked hers so closely, that was what lead to the belief that she designed it.

Plautilla spent the last years of her life living in a convent and died sometime after 1690.  There is no exact date of her death, however, 1690 is the last evidence of documentation on her.

There is not much information about Plautilla's life such as who taught her the architectural and painting skills, whether or not she ever married, or had children. If you have any information I could add please message me and I will gladly add it to this write-up.


Sources:
http://www.uchicago.edu/
http://www.absolutearts.com
http://www.wendy.com/women/artists.html

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