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Richard Bösel

(b Trento, Nov 30, 1642; d Vienna, Aug 31, 1709).

Italian painter, architect and stage designer. He was a brilliant quadratura painter, whose most celebrated works, such as the decoration of the church of S Ignazio in Rome, unite painting, architecture and sculpture in effects of overwhelming illusionism and are among the high-points of Baroque church art. He was a Jesuit lay brother and produced his most significant work for the Society of Jesus. This affiliation was fundamental to his conception of art and to his heightened awareness of the artist’s role as instrumental in proclaiming the faith and stimulating religious fervour. The methods he used were those of Counter-Reformation rhetoric, as represented in Ignatius Loyola’s Spirited Exercises (1548). His architectural works are eclectic, and his unconventional combination of varied sources led to bold experiments with both space and structure. His ideas were spread by his highly successful two-volume treatise, Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (1693–1700).

He received his first artistic training in Trento, with a painter who appears to have worked in the studio of Palma Giovane. He then studied with an unidentifiable pupil of, among others, Andrea Sacchi, who would have been the first to instruct Pozzo in the art of the Roman High Baroque, and he followed this painter to Como and Milan. In Milan Pozzo joined the Society of Jesus on ...