click to read article
Cardinal Oliviero Carafa had enjoyed one of the brightest careers among his peers. After being appointed cardinal in 1467 at the age of 37, he was honoured with a series of high offices within the church, becoming the leader of the Crusade of 1472 which had been called by his close associate and the new Pope, Sixtus IV della Rovere, against the Ottomans who had captured a series of islands in the Aegean sea. Despite an inconclusive campaign, Carafa returned to Rome in triumph to reassume his prominent position in the Vatican hierarchy. His close relationship to his patron Pope Sixtus IV was reinforced when he commissioned the building of a monastery attached to the church of Santa Maria della Pace which Sixtus had commissioned a few years previously.
For the design of the monastery, begun in 1500, Carafa chose Donato Bramante, who had arrived in Rome the previous year with a reputation that had already been cemented in the Milan of Ludovico Sforza. Bramante's early training had been in painting and the study of perspective, and he had trained, among others, under Piero della Francesca in Urbino. He had applied his deep knowledge of perspective and geometry to his later career as an architect, and the cloister of the monastery designed for Cardinal Carafa displays these calm and classical geometric values. Bramante's fame continued to rise, and five years later he was the first architect to be called to create a design for Pope Julius II's new Saint Peter's Basilica.