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4.3 Tolomei’s project: Unfinished?

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

This overview may be extended by considering the consequences of the program, some of which are well known but not in relation to their common background. For instance, the influence of Vignola’s Regola, reprinted and expanded several hundred times since 1562, on architectural theory and education can hardly be overestimated. And to appreciate Palladio’s influence, one would only have to walk around neighborhoods built after the mid-sixteenth century in almost any European city or place under Western (not always colonial) influence since then. There is no revival of «Classicism» after 1570 that did not heavily rely on Palladio’s books and buildings, which soon after his death were regarded as the epitome of good architecture and have been copied through today.17

The importance of Barbaro’s annotated Latin and Italian editions of Vitruvius, still regarded by many as the best ever made, is also indisputable. Much the same can be said about the groundbreaking works of Agustín, Smet, Philandrier and others from Tolomei’s Accademia. The systematically and methodologically planned Renaissance of ancient Roman architecture, developed in the project described by Tolomei — in opposition to the still prevailing conviction of modern research — may thus not have been unfinished at all. But our rediscovery of it surely is. To regain the vast amount of invaluable materials (manuscripts, drawings, prints, and books) and to reconstruct the complex interdependencies of this — presumably — first international interdisciplinary research network would require a new coordinated interdisciplinary network of researchers. Establishing a detailed overview of the sources and books possibly related to Tolomei’s program — a collaborative project among archaeologists, architectural and art historians, philologists, epigraphers, numismatists, historians of science and academies, and scholars from other fields such as diplomacy — offers a place to begin, however. Jean Matal’s codices in the Vatican Library are the only known group of sources from Tolomei’s project that have been already fully exploited, for the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL). However, in the CIL they only serve as sources for the ancient inscriptions themselves and not as evidence for their own historical importance.

In short, Tolomei’s letter and its impressive impact could show that the new information that can be expected from such a project may not only change the date for the beginnings and our picture of the history of academic archaeology based on a scientific methodology, which is usually thought to have started only in the 1700s. The same may be true for the research regarding the history and theory of architecture as well as many humanistic fields more generally. In addition, regaining very precise Renaissance documentations of artefacts lost or damaged since the sixteenth century could change our picture of ancient Rome itself and its material culture. That would include, but is certainly not limited to, its remarkable and highly influential architecture — an architecture that can arguably be seen at the core of the developments we call the Renaissance.

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