Jan van Santen, an architect commonly known as Giovanni Vasanzio, moved to Rome in his early twenties and would stay there the rest of his life. He started his Italian career as a cabinet maker, specializing in ‘studioli’ and so-called ‘art cabinets’. His work was characterized by an architectural quality, which was noticed by the famous architect Flaminio Ponzio (1560-1613).
Vasanzio became the assistant to Ponzio in 1613, and after his master’s sudden death he was appointed his successor by Pope Paulus V. Simultaneously, he was hired by Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577-1633) as architect for the Borghese family.
Van Santen’s main commissions were the façade of Ponzio’s San Sebastiano fuori le Mura (1612), the Palazzo Borghese (1613), the Villa Borghese (1613-16) and his masterpiece the Casino dell’Uccelliera (1617). He was responsible for the additions to the Villa Mondragone in Frascati (1615) and the design of the Fountain della Galera (1620) in the gardens of the Vatican Palace. Van Santen was a member of the Santa Maria dell’Anima. (SD)
The Villa Borghese, now the museum Galleria Borghese
The Casino dell'Uccelliera in the gardens of the Villa Borghese