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Ilija Katičić in the Baroque Reconstruction of Dubrovnik and Perast: Most Recent Findings on the Life and Work of the Ragusan Architect and Stonemason

Katarina Horvat-Levaj

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str. 189-218

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Ilija Katičić (1647-1728) played a significant role in the reconstruction of Dubrovnik after the Great Earthquake of 1667. Having succeeded Italian architects as the state’s chief architect of the cathedral, he contributed to the reaffirmation of the local masons and engineers after a halt caused by the great natural disaster. However, his rise in Dubrovnik’s service and the awarded title of protomagister (chief supervisor) of public works (1713) were the result of many laborious projects. The first mention of Katičić’s commissions in Dubrovnik can be traced in the documents of the stonemasons’ confraternity resident in All Saints Church (Domino Church). Being employed at the preparatory stage of Domino’s reconstruction (1686), Katičić came into contact with other Ragusan stonemasons, but also with Nicolà dello Gaudio of Naples, with whom he collaborated on the reconstruction of the atrium of the Rector’s Palace (1687), as well as on the financial transactions related to negotiable notes (within larger commissions in the quarries of Korčula). Apart from Katičić’s reconstruction of the carved elements of architectural monuments, the contemporary sources refer to his participation in the carving of the stone altar in the Church of Our Lady of Carmel (1691). Successful completion of these projects led to his promotion into gestaldus (head) of the stonemasons’ confraternity in 1698, a year which roughly concludes his early career of a stonemason. 218 Anali Dubrovnik 44 (2006) By the beginning of the eighteenth century, Katičić embarked upon his career of the state’s builder, crowned with the finalisation of the cathedral. It was the letter which, once the structure had been finished, Katičić addressed to the Ragusan Senate that bears witness to his earlier projects, such as the rebuilding of the Church of SS Petar, Lovro and Andrija in the Placa (pulled down at the start of the nineteenth century), along with the reconstruction of the Renaissance fortress of St John in the city port. The rebuilding of the cathedral was delayed due to the departure of the Sicilian architect Tommaso Napoli in 1700. Having taken his place, Katičić’s first duty was to rectify certain defects in the construction. Analysis of style, however, indicates that in the demanding finalisation of the dome following Napoli’s innovations (alterations in the doming, shaping of side terraces), Katičić decided to resume the original Roman early-Baroque design by Andrea Buffalini from 1671, and thus earned himself a reward, life’s annuity and the mentioned high title. He proved equally successful in a number of state and private projects, contributing to the spreading of distinctive Baroque forms adopted by Italian state architects whose work he directly challenged in the construction of the cathedral. However, Katičić was entrusted with the execution of original public projects outside the Dubrovnik area only. Ilija Katičić contributed to one of the most beautiful urban surroundings of the Bay of Kotor— Perast—which began to flourish after the victory over the Turks in 1654. In 1720, Katičić was commissioned by the Perast municipality to design its most important shrine - Church of Our Lady of the Rock (Gospa od Škrpjela) on the islet which lies just off the town itself. The main feature of Katičić’s project is a quadrangular sanctuary with a dome mounted on a Renaissance octagonal drum, accentuated by richly profiled elements of the Baroque architectural plastic. The asymmetrical profiles of the stone frame openings of the drum lean on Napoli’s window design on the central nave of Dubrovnik’s cathedral, but also on Gropelli’s windows on the side facades of St Blaise’s Church in Dubrovnik. This last in the series of Katičić’s extant projects confirms a hypothesis on his artistic individuality characterised by a harmonious blending of the Renaissance heritage and Baroque plastic innovations. Ilija Katičić spent his last days in Dubrovnik, where, in 1727, he wrote his will. He was buried in the Franciscan Church, as befitted his favourable reputation.

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