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3 The Accademia’s program according to Tolomei’s letter

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

The following paragraphs provide a list of books — each one dedicated to a special topic — that Tolomei felt necessary to the success of his program. Where it is possible, a short overview of the Renaissance sources — manuscripts and books — that could or even should be seen as related to Tolomei’s program.

Tolomei’s large network of artists, intellectuals, and draftsmen has been called «Accademia Vitruviana» by modern research, but, given recent work, it might be identified with a certain «Accademia de lo Studio de l’Architettura» mentioned by Dionigi Atanagi in 1565 = [Atanagi 1565, Ll2v-Ll3r]. Over the course of some twenty years, between 1535 and 1555, more than 165 persons seem to have been members of this network, loosely connected to several academies active in Rome during this time. Among the members were cardinals such as Marcello Cervini, Alessandro Farnese, Rodolfo Pio da Carpi, Federico Cesi or Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, bishops such as Bernardino Maffei, humanists—often in the service of the church—such as Guillaume Philandrier and Stephanus Pighius, noblemen such as Giangiorgio Trissino, and architects such as Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, and Andrea Palladio.

Marcello Cervini may be regarded as the spiritus rector of the entire project: Born in 1501 in a rather modest family from Macerata, he was appraised by contemporaries for his mathematical studies, became the cardinal of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, was the teacher of Alessandro Farnese and librarion for the Farnese family before he became the first cardinal librarian of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. He was presumably one of the most learned men of his time, not only started a publishing project of Greek theological literature but also headed the Council of Trent as the Papal Representative for several years. He was closely related to the Farnese household, and was surely one of the best scholars on ancient architecture of his time. He is often mentioned in connection with studies of ancient Roman remains as of the 1530s. He died in April 1555, three weeks after his election as Pope Marcellus II. Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli is dedicated to him. For more information, see Giampiero Brunelli, «Marcello II» in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, ed. Maria Caravale (Rome, 2007), vol. 69; also available online: = [Brunelli 2007]. Unfortunately, modern biographical literature on Cervini almost exclusively focusses on his many important activities within the catholic church, but his cultural activities still deserve much more research.

Tolomei’s network, the Accademia de lo Studio de l’Architettura employed about thirty-five draughtsmen taking part in the architectural surveys. Working in smaller groups, they shared the workload between measuring, drawing first survey sketches, and more elaborate overview drawings based on those as well as preparing orthogonal and in-scale drawings as templates for prints. The same pattern of working in smaller groups whose results were then united and ordered systematically can be obsverved in other groups of draughtsmen documenting other special classes of artifacts, e. g. reliefs, sarcophagi, inscriptions, coins etc. Of course, it cannot be excluded that some of these draughtsmen worked in different roles and for different sub-projects of the Accademia.

Tolomei’s network has usually been identified with the so-called Accademia della Virtù, established around 1537 and dedicated to Neo-Latin poetry and the modernization of Italian to make it suitable as a substitute to Latin. But as Ambra Moroncini has convincingly shown [Moroncini 2016Moroncini 2017], this academy concentrated its work on these philological fields. Because Tolomei as well as other participants of his wide network were members of several academies at the same time and «academies» were not fixed, established institutions, they may have collaborated on similar projects in different circumstances and on different occasions. But the Accademia della Virtù is not know to have developed a special interest in ancient Roman architecture besides its philological work, even though modern research always has drawn this seemingly too-fast conclusion from the participation of Tolomei — who himself should rather be regarded as a philologist than as a student of architecture. This is also a reason to not regard him as the leading author of the program described in his letter but rather as a leading member of this network who happened to play some administrative and coordinating role.

Though this academic network never seemes to have reached the stable status of a formal institution, this essay will presume that while Tolomei’s Accademia may have overlapped with the Accademia della Virtù, it should rather be regarded as the reestablishment of the famous Accademia Romana founded in 1464 by Pomponio Leto and active in Rome until the Sacco di Roma in 1527. The fact that several late members of this (first) Roman Accademia, such as Trissino and Cervini, became leading members of the new one is a strong indication for a continuity between the two academies. This interpretation may also be supported by the fact that the Dorico printers, the brothers Valerio and Luigi (Aloisius) proudly called themsevles «Accademiæ RomanæImpressorum» in the imprint of the first illustrated edition of Bartolomeo Marliano’s Topographia [Marliano 1544, (unnumbered page 123)]. Obviously, it would make no sense to claim to be the publisher of Leto’s academy which had ceased to exist some 17 years before this book came out, especially when one takes into regard that the Dorico brothers had just arrived in Rome in 1527 and set up their workshop but are not known to have published antiquarian literature in their first years in Rome.

Because Tolomei did not give numbers to the books he listed in his letter, I added them here for easier reference. Even though some passages could be interpreted in a different way, this numbers and the according books hopefully will not to have be changed in the future. The absence of a numeration of the books (or «items», as some scholars preferred to call them even though Tolomei clearly speaks of «books») has led to several confusing descriptions of the list in recent scholarship, with the number of items ranging from eight to twenty. It is hoped that the interpretation of Tolomei’s letter given here is convincing — at least with regard to the numbers.