16th to 19th century brick construction in the Roman area: production, techniques, aesthetic vocation. Brick production and brick construction significantly contribute to characterize the architecture of modern Rome. In the 15th and 16th century the quality of brick facing was perfected, reaching high levels of technical virtuosity in the construction of very regular cut, almost seamless brickwork. However, these facings were not necessarily meant to be visible. In fact, literary sources and practical details demonstrate that this technological development could also be used to obtain a smooth and monolithic wall structure, easily coated with plaster imitating marble or travertine. Later, in the Baroque period, the Roman religious orders’ aspiration to poverty promoted the use of exposed brickwork. This was employed in Rome in several, more or less accurate building types, as demonstrated by many worksite papers (“cortina rustica”, “cortina rotata, stuccata e segnata”, “cortina tagliata”). In the late 18th century rationalist thought and Francesco Milizia’s work inaugurate a new tradition, celebrating brick and brick building for its aesthetic value. This new programmatic approach influenced our modern understanding of the role of brick in the previous centuries, eradicating the memory of the many plaster coatings that hid the bricks in wall structures.
Elisabetta Pallottino (2015). Costruire in laterizio nell’area romana tra XVI e XIX secolo: produzione, apparecchi, vocazione estetica. ARCHEOLOGIA DELL'ARCHITETTURA, XX, 75-78.