One of the leading Baroque architects. Born in Syracuse, he learned the trade starting to work as a stonemason and master builder. Gagliardi was the leading driver of the spectacular Baroque reconstruction of Noto after its destruction due to the earthquake of 1693. In Noto he designed the most important churches (i.e. SS. Crucifix, St. Nicholas, Santa Ciara…) , private residences, religious buildings, and the urban overall plans for the city. He never leaved Sicily and worked mostly in the Sicilian Baroque style, beginning with the cathedral of Modica in 1702.
He later moved to Monica where he worked on the renovation of the church of St. Martin (1723), its dormitory and the monastery -once attached to the church, the church of St. John the Baptist (1725), the Jesuit college, and the Palazzo Battaglia in Ragusa. Between 1730 and 1740 Gagliardi worked on the church of Santa Maria delle Stelle in Comiso.
One of the most representative works of his spatial conception can be considered the church of San Giorgio in Ragusa. Construction began in 1738 and ended in 1775). The tower-facade built for St. George solved the problem of the bell tower, transforming central body of the church in a tower and is one of the main features of the compositional language of the architect. This architectural element draws on models of Palermo, Syracuse and Guarini recalling a type heavily in use in northern Europe -but extremely rare in Italy-which later became a very popular model in the “Val di Noto”. Another peculiar element of the church, typical of his style is the use of free columns on the facade to add vertical movement, accentuate the chiaroscuro, and enrich the convexity of the building.
From the fourth decade of the eighteenth century, he expanded his activity in the cities of Syracuse (church of San Filippo Nero), Caltagirone (churches of St. Agatha and St. Joseph), Niscemi and Scicli. His latest project was his engagement for the church of St. Charles Borromeo and the Jesuit college. Gagliardi died in Noto in 1762 aged 64 years old.
1. Treccani, https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/rosario-gagliardi_(Dizionario_Biografico)/&prev=search
2. Wikipedia, https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosario_Gagliardi