A little Borromini

February 2, 2021 | 5 Comments

Following on from a little Vanbrugh and a little Frank Lloyd Wright I did recently, here is a page I did for Sketchbook Design (Demo in Lesson 3) documenting my favourite building by Borromini (Francesco Borromini, architect in Rome, 1599-1667) – San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (San Carlino).

I have sketched this building on location before  – numerous times in 2010 and two quick visits in 2019

It’s an incredible building (my favourite building in Rome too) where the architecture twists and turns and is full of ambiguities – in particular when looking at the use of the orders. 

If FLW’s floor plans have been a huge inspiration for my compositions (particularly the pinwheel arrangement of some of his praire houses), the ambiguities/overlaps contained with Borromini’s facades and interiors are something that I strive after in both my sketches and my page layouts. I need to clarify my thinking before I can write anymore about this, but it is something that is going on in my head.

Hmm… I think I’m going on a tangent! So to get back to the sketch…

I did the facade following the experiments from my Baroque day last year, and then drew the interior and floor plan late at night. More of course inside the Sketchbook Design course, for those of you who have signed up.

It was a really fun page to do celebrating one of my favourite buildings, and I hope to do more pages like this in 2021!



  • Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful layout Liz! If that is a tangent, it’s a very intriguing one! Maybe your layout choices are being influenced by your experiences and senses of the spaces you’re sketching? –as in, maybe this two-page feels/looks/reads to the view how it feels like to you to walk through the San Carlino? What a great sketchbook design “element!”—a composition that is inspired by how it felt like to be in a particular landscape, moment, encounter, etc. Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Elizabeth – that’s a really interesting idea and I would love to think that San Carlino’s spaces inspired this sketchbook page. I want to think about this more because I’m sure that the environment does have a big impact on our art! I just never thought about it impacting layout/design too!

  • Alison says:

    I love this little jewel box of a church. It is so interesting to compare this one to the Bernini down the block.

  • Manali Ajay Jain says:

    I would like to know what is the main aspect of the building and the development

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