- Ramón Alfonso Méndez Brignardello
(b Rome, c. 1740; d Santiago de Chile, 1799).
Italian architect, active in Chile. He began his career in the office of Francesco Sabbatini, who at that time was working for the Spanish authorities in Naples. In 1759 Charles IV of Naples assumed the Spanish throne as Charles III (reg 1759–88) and took Sabbatini to Madrid as architect to the Crown, together with his best assistants, including Toesca. Toesca’s career in Madrid was pursued under Sabbatini’s shadow, but he came into his own when he was seconded to Chile in 1778 to rebuild Santiago Cathedral, burnt down in 1769. Reusing the existing foundations, Toesca produced a Neo-classical design, now obscured by late 19th-century additions. His major work was the mint in Santiago, the Real Casa de Moneda, now the executive residence. The plan is laid out around several courtyards behind a Neo-classical elevation that features a three-storey central block in three bays flanked by two-storey wings. The central block is articulated below by four sets of coupled columns of a giant order, to which coupled pilasters correspond on the third floor. In lieu of columns, the six-bay wings are marked off by clustered pilasters and surmounted by a heavy balustrade. The composition recalls Luigi Vanvitelli’s backdrop to the Piazza Dante, which was going up in Naples while Toesca was working on ...