Camilla Peretti (1519–1605), sister of Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585– 90), was one of an influential group of Roman noblewomen who supported the Counter Reformation through their patronage of architecture. Peretti’s projects included collaboration with her brother to develop the sprawling Villa Montalto complex on the Esquiline Hill and renovation of the ancient church of S. Susanna al Quirinale, where she commissioned a chapel dedicated to St. Lawrence and built a convent for a group of radically reformed Cistercian nuns. Although Sixtus V is usually characterized as a solitary urban genius who worked only with his architect, Domenico Fontana, study of Camilla Peretti’s patronage reveals that the pope’s sister played a key role in the implementation of the famous Sistine plan for Rome. In fact, Camilla Peretti’s two projects are demonstrated to form a previously unrecognized nucleus of the Sistine plan, which has traditionally been understood as having no central core.
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