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3.13 Annotated documentation of all ancient buildings with their parts

erstellt von Kulawik Veröffentlicht 05.06.2019 20:47, zuletzt verändert: 05.06.2019 20:47

After these preparations, the presumably most important book of the entire program would be printed:

Coniugnerassi a libbri sopradetti una vaghissima, e utilissima opera, ponendo in disegno tutte l’antichità di Roma, e alcune che son fuor di Roma, de la quali s’habbio qualche luce per le reliquio loro.[Tolomei 1547, 83r]

To the books mentioned above a very large and most useful work will be added, showing in illustrations all the ancient buildings of Rome, and some which are outside of Rome, of which there is some knowlegde through their remains.

It is striking, although perhaps not conclusive, that Tolomei’s phrase «tutte l’antichità di Roma» will later be echoed almost exactly by Vasari («tutte l’anticaglie di Roma») and Danti («tutte l’antichità di Roma») to characterize the extent of Jacopo Barrozi da Vignola’s part in the Accademia’s program.

This book would not only include images of these buildings, maybe in reconstructions, but plans, cuts, perspective views, and even details, as well as historical and architectural com- mentaries to make the buildings fully comprehensible:

Ove si mostraranno in figura tutte le piante, i profili, e li scorci, e molte altre parti secondo che sarà necessario, aggiugnendovi le misure giuste, e vere secondo la misura del piè Romano, con l’avvertimento de la proporzione, ch’egli ha con le misure de nostri tempi. E appresso a le dette figure si faranno due dichiarazioni, l’una per via d’historie, mostrando che edifizio fosse quello, a da chi, e perche conto fatto. E l’altra per via d’Architettura, isponendo le ragioni, e le regole, e gli ordini di quello edifizio . . .[Tolomei 1547, 83r]

There will be illustrated all the plans, the profiles [maybe also meaning: cuts], the perspective views and many more parts as far as they are necessary [to understand the building]; the right measures will be added according to the Roman foot with a hint to the proportion which it has with regard to the measures of our time. And besides every illustration there will be two explanations, one about the history of the building, explaining which building it was and by whom and why it was made. And the other will explain the architecture and the reasons, the roles and the orders used in this building…

The words regarding the correct measures and proportions may remind modern readers of Philibert De L’Orme’s famous report of his encounter with Marcello Cervini, then cardinal of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and other learned men while the young French architect was excavating and measuring ancient Roman architecture in 1536 [Orme 1567, 131r]: The cardinal advised the young architect to use the ancient Roman foot to measure the buildings because by doing so he would easily discern the original proportions. A few years later Cervini would have learned that there never was a uniform Roman foot, but that the surviving examples could range between 27 and 33 modern centimeters, as their depictions in their original sizes in Jean Matal’s codices collected in the early 1540s (see below) demonstrate.

Palladio’s descriptions and illustrations of ancient buildings in Book IV of his Quattro libri from 1570 seem to reflect, even if in a somewhat limited way, Tolomei’s description of this book as part of the program. Many of Palladio’s texts accompanying the illustrations do not only describe the architecture of the buildings but also provide information about their history. We know that Palladio acquired his vast knowledge of ancient Roman architecture mainly while he visited the Urbs several times with Trissino during the 1540s. A large number of drawings from his hand or workshop survive, although in most cases they were final drawings made in the 1560s in preparation for his Quattro libri and — according to David Hemsoll — presumably not based on Palladio’s own measuring survey but on drawings by others. Because Book IV focusses on temples, Palladio even planned to publish at least two additional books — one about the imperial baths and one about triumphal arches. It has to be kept in mind, that Palladio could not have measured all these buildings alone, and it seems quite implausible that a young stonemason during his years of training and studies to become an architect would have had the (financial) means to pay others to assist him. How, then, did Palladio generate all of the drawings that he later used to create the surviving revised final drawings?

In 1966 Heinz Spielmann observed that the only group of drawings that come close to Palladio’s are found in the so-called Codex Destailleur D (Hdz 4151) in Berlin. [Spielmann 1966] — As in the case of Vignola, it is surprising that Palladio’s probable relation to the Accademia has not encouraged further investigations. Again, the lack of sources may be one reason. But Palladio’s sojourns in Rome in the 1540s were well known for centuries, even though their exact date and duration has only recently been reconstructed by Guido Beltrami in his contribution «Palladio e i viaggi a Roma: cronologia e esiti progettuali» to the 29° Seminario di storia dell’architettura, «Palladio e la Roma di Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane» in the Centro Palladio at Vicenza on June 16, 2016.

The drawings in the Berlin Codex Destailleur D and related collections in other places look very much like Palladio’s but are even more accurate and precise, including, for example, the systems for heating and water supply or plans of the roofs.[Kulawik 2002] A closer comparison of Palladio’s drawings with those from the Berlin codex reveals that they do not correspond exactly, but that there are some resemblances and accordances that hardly can be explained by chance. It is also the case that among Palladio’s drawings in London and Vicenza are a few that were made by the same anonymous French draftsmen who were working on the Berlin codex. Finally, the Berlin codex, with its 120 sheets containing some 1,000 single drawings, could recently be shown to form the central group of a very large number of anonymous drawings comprising altogether at least some 850 sheets with more than 3,500 single drawings, scattered today over Europe and northern America in at least fourteen collections. Almost all of them have been made by anonymous French draftsmen, of whom only one has been identified as a certain «Guielmo franciosio» working for the Fabbrica di San Pietro in Vaticano in the 1540s [Kulawik 2016].

Because it seems to be impossible that an unskilled worker employed as a low-paid helper at the Fabbrica could have invented the entire project and carried it out with some of his friends over the course of almost two decades, and because of annotations in Italian and French addressing readers of an obviously higher social rank, this large corpus of drawings must have been made for Tolomei’s Accademia — perhaps in part under Vignola’s supervision. It seems to be the largest, most precise, and most comprehensive corpus of measured drawings ever made of ancient Roman architecture and the best examples of contemporary early modern architecture. Only less than a quarter of these drawings could be examined in detail yet, but those seen thus far support these hypotheses.