92. Natale Masuccio (1561 – 1619)

Born in Messina, Masuccio was one of the leading architects in Sicily in the transition between Mannerism and the Baroque. He entered the Jesuit order and was sent to Rome in 1597 to perfect his architectural studies and learn about the latest architectural trends. During his journey back to Sicily, Masuccio was captured by pirates and then released by a ship of the Knights of Malta with which he arrived in Valletta (Malta) where he worked on a few hydraulic projects. On his return to Sicily in 1602, Masuccio designed and supervised the building works of the Jesuits becoming the first architect of the Jesuit Province of Sicily. Some of his engagements include projects for the colleges of Caltanissetta, Mineo, and Mount Tirone in Messina.

In 1603 he was in Palermo working on the site of the church of the Jesuit headquarters in Palermo, the so-called “Casa Professa”. In the same period he designed the novitiate building of Palermo using the longstanding Jesuit pattern based on two inner courtyards. Masuccio also designed the Jesuit College of Messina -the prototype for all the others that were built in Sicily- characterized by a severe model, with simple pilasters and string courses, and in which the plastic relief focused exclusively in the entrance portal.

In 1616 , following a violent contrast with the Father Provincial, Masuccio was expelled from the order. He became the architect of the Senate of Messina -which already in 1611 had commissioned him to build a new city waterworks. In Messina he designed his best known work, the “Monte di Pieta'” (pawnshop). Only the ground floor of the building was completed before his death and together with with the portal of the Jesuit college, they remain his the only surviving works in Messina. Anything else was completely destroyed by 1908 earthquake.

Natale Masuccio, Collegio Dei Gesuiti
Natale Masuccio, Collegio Dei Gesuiti

Read More
1. Treccani, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/natale-masuccio_(Dizionario-Biografico)/
2. Wikipedia, https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natale_Masuccio

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