A Summer Souvenir of Superga

Souvenir spoon with view of Turin [Superga], late 19th century
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Turin was never a major stop on the Grand Tour. During the great age of pre-aviation tourism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the city served as a gateway for travelers entering Italy from the north before heading to more popular destinations such as Venice, Florence, or Rome. Thus, apart from devotional objects produced for pilgrims venerating the Shroud of Turin, relatively few typical souvenir items such as postcards, photo albums, painted porcelain, or other knickknacks representing the Piedmontese capital survive in public collections.

This souvenir spoon at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is a charming exception. The enameled bowl of the spoon bears a view of Filippo Juvarra’s church of Superga (1716-31) on a hill overlooking the city. The view prominently includes the funicular railway connecting the city (at 225 meters elevation) with the summit (at 672 meters). Since the railway opened in 1884, and the spoon was donated to the museum in 1900, we can date it to the final sixteen years of the nineteenth century. The top of the spoon’s handle features a bull, the symbol of the city of Turin.

Other spoons donated with the same extensive collection represent traditional tourist highlights in Italy and elsewhere in Europe: Rome (St. Peter’s, the Colosseum), Venice (Rialto, Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s), Florence (Palazzo Medici, Duomo, Piazza della Signoria), Naples (Bay of Naples, Pompeii), Potsdam, Dresden, Seville, Madrid, and many others. Meant for display rather than use, such objects still perform their intended function as reminders (“souvenirs”) of summer vacations long ago.

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Related Reading

In 2016, the Consiglio regionale del Piemonte presented an exhibition of ceramics featuring views of Piedmont, Il Piemonte sui piatti. The exhibition catalogue may be downloaded as a PDF from the Internet Archive. See p. 28 of the catalogue for plates with views of Superga.

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Borromini Colloquium in Einsiedeln

30 June-1 July 2019

Portrait of Francesco Borromini, frontispiece to Opera del Cav. Francesco Boromino, Cavata da Suoi Originali cioè L’Oratorio e Fabrica per l’Abitazione De PP. dell’Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri di Roma, ed. Sebastiano Giannini (Rome, 1725).
Source: Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive

Werner Oechslin (Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin / ETH Zürich) and Francesco Moschini (Accademia di San Luca, Rome) have organized a two-day colloquium on Francesco Borromini, his sources, and his architectural offspring. The event assembles many established and emerging Borromini scholars and features a special keynote address by Paolo Portoghesi.

I am looking forward to participating with my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection.” My talk examines Guarino Guarini’s adaptation of Borrominian motifs at his ill-fated church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale in Paris, and the subsequent reception of this design by French architectural writers.

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Program

Sonntag, 30. Juni / Domenica, 30 giugno
1. Arbeitstag. Borromini und seine Architektur im Kontext / Primo giorno: Borromini e la sua architettura nel contesto

09.30 –12.00 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.00

● Francesco Moschini / Werner Oechslin
Einführung, Hypothesen / Introduzione, Ipotesi

● Paolo Porthoghesi (Rom)
Prolusione inaugurale: L’architettura di Borromini

● Federico Bellini (Rom)
La SS. Sapienza: l’espressione visual e sonora del misterio trinitario

13.30 –18.00 Uhr / Ore 13.30–18.00

● Giuseppe Bonaccorso (Rom)
Borromini e i rapporti con amici, conoscenti e committenti: una chiave di comprensione del suo processo del fare

● Eleonora Gaudieri (Wien)
Alois Riegels „Entstehung der Barockkunst in Rom“

Kaffeepause

● Alina Aggujaro (Rom)
Bramante e Borromini: le due prospettive

● Alexander von Kienlin, Gunnar Schulz-Lehnfeld (Braunschweig)
„Aufgebrochene Schlingen und Ketten“ – zum Michelangiolesken in Borrominis Architektur

Montag, 01. Juli / Lunedì, 01 Luglio
2. Arbeitstag: Borromini und die Folgen: Geometrie, Entwurfsprozesse / Secondo giorno: Borromini e le consequenze: Geometria, procedure del disegno

09.30 –12.30 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.30

● Susan Klaiber (Winterthur)
Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection

Kaffeepause

● Martin Raspe (Rom)
Il Calvino dell‘ Architettura? Borromini und die Doktrin vom rechten Winkel

● Werner Oechslin (Einsiedeln)
Borromini il Cartesio dell’Architettura und die (nachfolgende) Disziplinierung der Kurve

14.30 –18.00 Uhr/ Ore 14.30–18.00

● Daniel Tischler (Wien)
Synoptische Architekturzeichnungen Borrominis

● Richard Bösel (Tuscania) – Diskutant

● Torsten Tjarks (Bonn) – Diskutant

Kaffeepause

● Stefan Kummer (Würzburg)
Anmerkungen zur vermeintlichen ‚Kurvenfeindlichkeit‘ Balthasar Neumanns am Beispiel der Würzburger Residenz

● Sebastian Schütze – Diskutant

● Schlussdiskussion / conclusione

18.15 Uhr / Ore 18.15: Besichtigung der Klosterkirche Einsiedeln / Visita della abbazia di Einsiedeln

Venue

Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin
Luegetenstr. 11
8840 Einsiedeln

Attendance is free, but registration requested at info@bibliothek-oechslin.ch.

Download

Download the colloquium program as a PDF.

From my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection”

EAHN 2020, Edinburgh: Call for Papers

David Roberts (1796–1864), Edinburgh from the Castle, 1847, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Source: Yale Center for British Art / public domain

European Architectural History Network Sixth International Meeting
Edinburgh, Scotland, 10-13 June 2020

The scientific committee for EAHN 2020 in Edinburgh has selected twenty-five sessions and round tables for the conference, and published the call for papers for these panels. I am no longer actively involved in the EAHN, but am delighted to see that the colleagues currently leading the organization have pulled together such a varied and stimulating program. For complete details on the call for papers, see the conference website and the listing of panels. An additional webpage provides a convenient overview of all the panels with their individual details.

EAHN 2020 CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE 20 SEPTEMBER 2019

The call for papers (sessions) and discussion positions (round tables) is now live. The deadline is 20 September 2019, and proposals should be submitted to the Session Chairs, whose details may be found below. All proposals should include the following information:

· A proposal, in English, of no more than 300 words

· The title of the paper, or discussion position

· Your name

· Your professional affiliation

· A short curriculum vitae (maximum of two pages)

· A mailing address, email address and telephone number

Sessions will consist of either five papers or four papers and a respondent, with time for dialogue and questions at the end. Each paper will be limited to a 20-minute presentation. Abstracts for presentations should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretative rather than descriptive in nature.

Round tables will consist of five to ten participants and an extended time for dialogue, debate and discussion among chair(s) and public. Each discussant will have 10 minutes to present a position. Abstracts for round table debates should summarize the position to be taken in the discussion.

Please note: papers may not have been previously published, nor presented in public. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process. In addition to the thematic sessions and round tables listed below, open sessions may be announced in due course – details to be provided on the conference website.

Sessions and Round Tables:

● Urban planning during state socialism: global ambitions, national ideologies and local desires

● Public Health in the Early Modern City: Salutogenesis Through Architecture

● Ephemerality and Monumentality in Modern Europe (c.1750-1900)

● Splitted Cultures/New Dialogues: Research in Architectural History and Theory

● User Comfort, Functionality, and Sustainability as (Early?) Modern Architectural Concerns

● Shifting Identities of the Ottoman Vernacular

● Migration and Domesticity in the Long Nineteenth Century

● Cosmopolitanism’s Others: Transnational Architecture and Planning beyond Europe and North America

● Design as Process in Pre-Modern Architecture

● Rethinking Architecture for Friars: Process and Spatial Solutions in the Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 1200 – 1500

● English as the Academic Lingua Franca?

● The Urban Commons: Collective Actors, Architectural Agency and the City

● Multilateralism since 1945. From the Comecon to the Belt and Road Initiative

● The Role of Women in the Building of Cities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

● Architects do not make buildings: A last call for disegno

● Drive-In Architecture, Carriage to Motor Age

● Radical Exchanges between Latin America and Europe in the Everlasting Sixties

● Hotels in the Global South and the Architectures of Contact Zones

● Empires of Heritage: World Monuments before UNESCO

● European Welfare Landscapes: Histories and Futures

● Southern Exchanges: Relocating Architectural Knowledge Production

● Territories of incarceration: The project of modern carceral institutions as an act of rural colonisation

● Flexibility and its Discontents: Techniques and Technologies in Twentieth Century Architectural Production

● Genius Loci: The Politics of Pre-Modern Architectural Style

● Cultivating the Child Eye’s View

Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

Book Launch: Proceedings of November 2016 Conference

Fortuna del barocco book launch invitation
As the work on the research project Antico / Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750 concludes, the second publication arising from the project will be presented at the Salone del Libro in Turin on 10 May at 16:30. Volume 2 in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura collects the conference proceedings from the November 2016 conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento.

My contribution to the volume consists of a response to the talk by Joseph Connors entitled “Il barocco in Italia visto dall’estero. Le mostre di architettura.” View details of the other essays comprising the book in the table of contents. Looking forward to this volume documenting a very stimulating conference!

Publication

Di Macco, Michela, and Giuseppe Dardanello, editors. Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento. Fondazione 1563, Quaderni di ricerca 2. Genoa: Sagep Editori, 2019.

Other news from the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura

● This is a great chance to note the new Summer School organized by the Fondazione 1563, entitled “Ripensare il Barocco (secoli XVII e XVIII). Nuove prospettive storico-critiche.” The Summer School takes place in Turin from 2-7 September 2019 and the deadline for applications is 31 May 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

● The Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura has also recently announced the seventh edition of its annual program of fellowships for postdocs or advanced doctoral candidates in baroque studies, Borse di alti studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco Intitolate a Rosaria Cigliano: VII Bando – Edizione 2019. The five annual fellowships support emerging scholars under the age of 35. The application deadline this year is 27 July 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

A Panorama of Turin

Torino, Panorama generale

Torino, Panorama generale, ca. 1914
Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Unbekannt / Fel_031762-RE / Public domain mark
CLICK TO ENLARGE

The rich online image collections of the ETH Zürich hold countless treasures, including aerial photographs, historic bookplates, the collection of the Fotostiftung Schweiz, historic scientific instruments, field research photography in geology and botany, and historic photographs of buildings in Zurich. Many images are available with some type of Creative Commons license, or are in the public domain. A great deal of the collection consists of postcards, with some unusual examples such as this five-part accordion-folded panorama of Turin dating to around 1914.

The photographs used in the panorama were apparently taken from the Monte dei Cappuccini, on the east side of the Po River just outside the historic center of the city. The leftmost image looks south-southwest, upstream along the Po, toward the Castello del Valentino. Moving from left to right and facing westward, the images successively pan from southwest to north-northwest, while the final, rightmost image looks northeast toward the basilica of Superga. Near the right edge of the central image, the spire of the Mole Antonelliana punctuates the skyline. Together, the five photographs pan well over 180°. The Po runs along the foreground of the entire panorama, while the Alps form a continuous backdrop, a vivid illustration of Turin as the “città subalpina.”

The ETH image archive also holds similar panoramas of numerous other cities and landscapes. Besides many variations on Alpine panoramas, these include Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Lugano, Lyon, Palermo, Valletta, and Oahu!

Carnival in Rome

Bartolomeo Pinelli, Il Carnevale in Roma, 1815. From: Nuova Raccolta di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi […], Plate 49.
Source: e-rara / ETH-Bibliothek

Carriages, Enormous Eye-Glasses, Strange Animals

Charles Dickens lived in Italy for eleven months in 1844-45. He wrote about his stay in the travelogue Pictures from Italy, published the year after his return to England. His vivid description of Carnival in Rome in the Pictures from Italy rivals Goethe’s famous account from nearly sixty years earlier. The amusing prints of the festivities by Bartolomeo Pinelli, dating midway between the two texts, perfectly capture details noted by both authors.

In the following excerpt, Dickens gives an impression of the range of costumes and customs seen in the streets during Carnevale:

“… the spectators at some upper balcony or window, joining in the fray, and attacking both parties, would empty down great bags of confetti, that descended like a cloud, and in an instant made them white as millers. Still, carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses, colours on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end. Men and boys clinging to the wheels of coaches, and holding on behind, and following in their wake, and diving in among the horses’ feet to pick up scattered flowers to sell again; maskers on foot (the drollest generally) in fantastic exaggerations of court-dresses, surveying the throng through enormous eye-glasses, and always transported with an ecstasy of love, on the discovery of any particularly old lady at a window; long strings of Policinelli, laying about them with blown bladders at the ends of sticks; a waggon-full of madmen, screaming and tearing to the life; a coach-full of grave mamelukes, with their horse-tail standard set up in the midst; a party of gipsy-women engaged in terrific conflict with a shipful of sailors; a man-monkey on a pole, surrounded by strange animals with pigs’ faces, and lions’ tails, carried under their arms, or worn gracefully over their shoulders; carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses, colours on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end. Not many actual characters sustained, or represented, perhaps, considering the number dressed, but the main pleasure of the scene consisting in its perfect good temper; in its bright, and infinite, and flashing variety; and in its entire abandonment to the mad humour of the time…”

– Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1846), pp. 178-179.

Whether you celebrate Carnival, Carnevale, Shrovetide, Fasnacht, Mardi Gras, or Fasching … enjoy it while it lasts!

Bartolomeo Pinelli, costumes of Roman Carnival, 1812. From: Lettre de M. Millin,… à M. Langlès, sur le carnaval de Rome (Paris: J.-B. Sajou, 1812).
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Guarino Guarini Letterato

A Neglected Article by Martino Capucci

“Quel che si sa di Guarino Guarini architetto non è molto: ci sono le sue opere, non la sua figura intera. Manca ancora una monografia che dica non solo dell’artista, ma anche del trattatista d’architettura, del letterato, del matematico e filosofo farraginoso e dottissimo. … riteniamo opportuno ordinare quel che si sa su Guarini scrittore, delinearne gli essenziali aspetti; offrendo così qualche materiale che potra non essere inutile per lo storico dell’arte che voglia tenerne conto.”

From: Martino Capucci, “Guarino Guarini Letterato,” Lettere Italiane 8:1 (Gennaio-Marzo 1956): 75-82 [75].

The article cited above, by the late scholar of Italian literature Martino Capucci (1926-2013), recently surfaced in JSTOR – apparently the journal Lettere Italiane is a new addition to the repository’s invaluable resources. In the 1956 essay, Capucci called for an integrated approach to Guarino Guarini’s life and work, considering all of his activity – in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, and indeed literature – as inseparable from his architectural work. Capucci, who taught at the University of Bologna, surveyed all the writings of the Theatine architect, but then focused his attention on Guarini’s first publication, the play La pietà trionfante (Messina, 1660). Capucci situates the tragicomedy within the tradition of seventeenth-century Italian theater, succinctly and honestly assessing it from the point of view of italianistica. While Capucci finds the play of low literary quality, he nonetheless recognizes its value in reflecting the culture in which Guarini took part:

“In questo ‘maestro del barocco’ il fascino della cultura è straordinario e spesso soffocante, ma a noi non importano tanto i risultati quanto il desiderio di esperienza che sta alla radice di questa cultura; ed è qui, non in un rapporto esterno o magari deterministico, quel punto di contatto fra i due aspetti della personalità guariniana, che giustifica l’esame della sua attività di erudito, trattatista e scrittore da cui possiamo trarre maggior sicurezza nella valutazione dell’opera per la quale egli vive ancora.” [81-82]

To my knowledge, Capucci’s article has remained entirely unknown within the literature on Guarino Guarini. It is not included in any of the usual authoritative bibliographies on the Modenese Theatine. Yet Capucci’s essay coincided with the flowering of studies on Guarini and Piedmontese baroque architecture in the late 1950s through the 1960s, such as Paolo Portoghesi’s short monograph published the same year. Its omission can only be due to the disciplinary blinders that still plague Guarini research today. Few studies on Guarini make more than passing reference to La pietà trionfante, although a play based on it was produced in Modena in 2005, Le regole del cielo. Capucci’s article thus fills a notable gap in Guarini scholarship, providing important literary expertise to assist in our understanding of a figure who is fully comprehensible only through interdisciplinary efforts.

Consult “Guarino Guarini Letterato” by Martino Capucci at this JSTOR permalink. It deserves to be better known and to take its place within the standard literature on the architect.

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Further reading:

● Martino Capucci’s colleagues at the University of Bologna prepared this booklet as a memorial tribute following his death in 2013. The biographical essay includes an account of the genesis of Capucci’s early essay on Guarini.

● Download Guarini’s La pietà trionfante from the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense.

Janus and Chronos at the New Year

Giulio Romano, Victory, Janus, Chronos and Gaea, preparatory drawing for the Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, ca. 1532-1534
Source: The J. Paul Getty Musuem / Getty Open Content Program

At the threshold between the years 2018 and 2019, Giulio Romano’s group of Janus and Chronos in a preparatory drawing for the Sala dei Giganti at the Palazzo del Te seems a particularly appropriate emblem. They belong to the gathering of gods who have just vanquished the giants, toppling everything in their path. Janus – who gives January its name – looks backward (as an old man) and forward (as a youth), viewing the past as well as the future. Chronos (“Father Time”) strides ahead purposefully, while Victory seems about to place the victor’s crown on his head, marking the ultimate triumph of the inexorable march of time. (The position of this crown is shifted in the executed fresco.) Finally, at the lower right, a wistful Gaea looks on in horror at the violent end of the giants.

After the upheavals of 2018, here’s hoping that Janus sees a bright future for us all in January and throughout the rest of 2019!

EAHN 2020: Call for Sessions and Roundtables

European Architectural History Network Sixth International Meeting
Edinburgh, Scotland, 10-13 June 2020

Although I have stepped back from active involvement in the European Architectural History Network (EAHN), I am happy to note and share information about the preparations for the organization’s next biennial conference in 2020. After earlier international conferences in Guimarães, Brussels, Turin, Dublin, and Tallinn, the sixth edition will take place in Edinburgh. If you have been considering organizing a panel or roundtable on any aspect of architectural history – from antiquity through medieval, early modern, or modern and contemporary – this offers an excellent opportunity!

From the conference website:

Call for Session and Roundtable Proposals

The European Architectural History Network is delighted to announce its next biannual meeting at the University of Edinburgh, UK, 10-13 June 2020. In accordance with EAHN’s mission, the meeting aims to increase the visibility of the discipline of architectural history, to foster transnational, interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches to the study of the built environment, and to facilitate the exchange of research in the field. EAHN is a European organisation, but its intellectual scope is global, and the meeting welcomes proposals on any architectural historical topic. As well as topics on any aspect of the built environment, proposals on landscape and urban history are also very welcome, along with proposals dealing with the theories, methodologies and historiographies of architectural history.

Proposals are sought in two basic formats: (1) a Session, and (2) a Roundtable debate. A Session should consist of 4-5 paper presentations, with a respondent, and time for dialogue and discussion at the end. A Roundtable debate should be an organised as a discussion between panel members, and the format would suit topics of particular urgency, or contemporary relevance. Roundtables should also aim to activate audience discussion as far as possible. Sessions and Roundtables may be chaired by more than one person.

Anyone wishing to chair a Session or a Roundtable debate at EAHN2020 are invited to submit proposals by 31 December 2018. Chairs should make clear whether their proposal is a Session, or a Roundtable.

Please note that EAHN is self-funding, and chairs are expected to provide all their conference expenses, including travel and accommodation.

Deadline: 31 December 2018
Please visit the conference website to submit a session proposal, or for further information.

The Baroque Holy Ark of Trino Vercellese

Holy Ark of the Synagogue of Trino Vercellese, Piedmont, 1770s. Today in the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.
Source: Wikipedia [he.wikipedia.org] / User: Michaeli / © This image is copyrighted. The copyright holder allows everyone to use the image for any purpose provided that the copyright holder is properly credited.

This stunning ark, a fine example of Piedmontese baroque woodworking, was created for the synagogue in Trino Vercellese in the late eighteenth century. Portions of the synagogue were designed by the Turin court architect Benedetto Alfieri, although the name of the cabinetmaker responsible for the ark remains unknown. The ark features rich carving, faux marble, and gilded details, and the architectural scene on its doors alludes to the Temple of Jerusalem.

The synagogue in Trino was one of several built in Piedmont in the baroque era, including those in Casale Monferrato and Biella. Today, according to most sources, the synagogue in Trino has been secularized, and its contents dismantled in 1965.

In 1973, the holy ark was acquired by the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. There it was installed in a pavilion designed by the architect Werner Joseph Wittkower, the younger brother of the famous architectural historian Rudolf Wittkower, who was the leading international scholar of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture between 1945 and his death in 1971.

Around fifteen years ago, the museum undertook an extensive restoration of the ark. It was then reinstalled in the Ethnography and Folklore galleries of the museum in 2006-7, along with additional elements from the synagogue in Trino. As the Eretz Israel Museum website explains:

A Holy Ark, or Torah Shrine, as it was called by Italian Jews, complete with its original Torah lectern, worshipers’ benches, and the latticed railing from the women’s balcony, is situated in a separate hall built according to the original synagogue plans. The Baroque and Rococo style of the Ark is typical of the Piedmont district of northwestern Italy and represents an excellent example of the influence of local style on historical Jewish themes. The set of doors carved with architectural images symbolizing the Temple still to be built in Jerusalem is the highlight of the Ark, expressing the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish tradition.

The Holy Ark of Trino Vercellese stands as an impressive witness to the malleability of the baroque style, demonstrating how it could transcend the Catholic propaganda so often ascribed to it.

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In solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation, Pittsburgh. Stop the hate.