Which Baroque?


Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque, 2021 Edition

As ever, I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. The topic for the 2021 edition is “Which Baroque? The Fortune of the Baroque in the Collections and Exhibitions of European and American Museums in the 20th Century.” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

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The Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura has announced the ninth edition of its annual program of four fellowships for postdocs, doctoral candidates, or other advanced degree holders in baroque studies, Borse di alti studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco Intitolate a Rosaria Cigliano: IX Bando – Edizione 2021. The application deadline this year is 31 August 2021. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

Which Baroque? The Fortune of the Baroque in the Collections and Exhibitions of European and American Museums in the 20th Century

The great exhibition “Defying the Baroque. Rome, Turin, Paris, 1680 1750″ (Reggia di Venaria, 30th May 2020 20th September 2020, curated by Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello) brought the broad research project Ancient/Modern to an end. The project was initiated by the Fondazione in 2014, Professor di Macco and Professor Dardanello were the scientific curators.

The exhibition aimed to present the outcomes of the primary research conducted through various initiatives, including study days, seminars, conferences, research units on specific aspects, traditional and digital publications, digital products and lastly, fellowship grants.

The fellowship grants have always centred, in each annual edition, on specific topics designed to feed into the Ancient/Modern project’s development: in that way they have greatly contributed to yield scientific results that are not only innovative and valuable, but also interdisciplinary and able to foster a dialogue across scholars of different ages and backgrounds.

For the next three years, 20212023, the Fondazione launches the following research project: Which Baroque? The Fortune of the Baroque in the Collections and Exhibitions of European and American Museums in the 20th Century.

The objective of the new project is to explore the development of studies on the Baroque during the 20th century (the term Baroque has to be intended in the broadest chronological extension, in line with 20thcentury criticism) by analyzing several aspects such as museum displays, exhibitions, the international art market, the critical fortune of artists, painting schools and the arts in their broadest sense, from painting to sculpture and applied arts.

Also, it intends to investigate the affirmation of figurative culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the dialogue that is established between artworks exhibited in museum halls and aims to contribute to a better understanding of the history of art and the history of architecture resulting from the connections expressed by these works. To this end, the figures of curators, critics, conservators and scholars who played a decisive role in the acquisition and the arrangement of museum collections and displays will also be examined.

Various initiatives are envisaged to investigate the project’s theme, including the wellestablished fellowship grants on the Age and the Culture of Baroque. Applicants for the 2021 fellowship grants are invited to submit proposals on the following topics:

Museology matters and museum practice in European and American museums, focusing on how 17th- and 18thcentury artworks have been displayed and valued

Analysis of exhibitions related to the artistic culture of the Baroque, with an emphasis on the artworks’ selection criteria, loans, and displays

Analysis of dynamics related to collecting and art markets: critical fortune of artists and artworks, economic and commercial trends, legal aspects connected to the circulation of artworks

Affirmation of the fortune of the Baroque through the thinking of historians, critics, art historians, architectural historians throughout the 20th century.

Study of the culture of art restoration in relation to 17thand 18thcentury artworks

Analysis of the figures of curators, critics, conservators, scholars, critics, collectors, gallerists, antiquarians, intermediaries who played a decisive role within this call’s topics

Study on how contemporary artistic production, furnishing and décor culture, cinema, the visual arts, publishing have received, interpreted, responded to the Baroque

Projects may include collaborations with European and American museums and archives initiated by candidates. As per the nature of the research and the goals of The Age and the Culture of Baroque Fellowship programme, the Fondazione may ask for candidates’ collaboration in digital humanities projects set up by the Fondazione itself. Therefore, applicants should possess adequate digital skills and familiarity with digital humanities. Proposals will be evaluated also according to their dissemination potential, that is to say the accessibility of the project outcomes.

The project outcomes will be presented in a historicalcritical essay and researchers will actively collaborate in conceiving digital humanities products in the framework of the Which Baroque? project research group.

The research outcomes may be drawn up in Italian, English, French or Spanish

The call is open to postdoc applicants holding a doctorate, a specialisation degree or a 2nd level specialised master’s degree from an Italian university, or equivalent degrees from an international university. Applicants should normally be within 7 years of the award of their PhD or the above qualifications, or, at least, they must obtain them by the 31st December 2021. There are no nationality requirements.

Applications must be submitted exclusively online by filling out the forms available on the Fondazione 1563’s website at www.fondazione1563.it under About Us/Funding Opportunities. Applications or attachments sent by any other means will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted by 31st August 2021, at midnight (Italian/CET time).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

Deadline 31 August 2021

A Piece of San Lorenzo, Turin, in New York

Preparatory drawing in the Metropolitan Museum

Franceschini San Lorenzo drwg MET

Marcantonio Franceschini, Saint Lawrence Standing and Holding the Grill, Instrument of His Martyrdom, ca. 1715
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art / public domain

This preparatory drawing by Marcantonio Franceschini for the altarpiece of the high altar in San Lorenzo, Turin, somehow found its way to New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1962. The drawing depicts the titular saint of the church, Saint Lawrence, with the gridiron on which, according to legend, he was martyred by grilling over a fire. His eyes already look toward heaven as a putto at lower left hands him his martyr’s palm and two cherubim witness the scene from the upper right.

Marcantonio Franceschini, San Lorenzo, 1715, (San Lorenzo, Turin) Source: Fondazione Federico Zeri / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The image is squared for transfer to the canvas of the painting, and indeed the finished altarpiece conforms very closely to Franceschini’s drawing. The altarpiece hangs on the rear wall of the retrochoir, detached from the altar itself, which stands at the junction between the retrochoir and the presbytery. Guarino Guarini, the architect of the church, also designed the high altar, with most of its construction completed in 1680-1682, although it was not dedicated until 1696. It features a bas-relief of Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy making his vow to build the church after he led the forces of Philip II to victory at the battle of San Quintino (St. Quentin) on 10 August 1557, the feast day of Saint Lawrence. Philip II also vowed to build a church that day, resulting in the Escorial with its centerpiece church of San Lorenzo. It took over a century for Emanuele Filiberto’s vow to be fulfilled with the completion of Guarini’s church in 1680. Thus, the belated commissioning of the altarpiece thirty-five years after the church opened should be seen in the context of a long-term dynastic project spanning several generations and portions of three centuries.

San Lorenzo, Turin, view of high altar and altarpiece by Marcantonio Franceschini<br/>Source: Wikimedia Commons / eccekevin / CC BY-SA 4.0

Further reading

Jacob Bean, Seventeenth-Century Italian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Abrams, 1979), cat. 193, pp. 152-153.

EAHN 2022, Madrid: Call for Papers

La villa de Madrid corte delos reyes catolicos de Espanna, anonymous, 1690-1728
Source: Rijksmuseum / public domain

European Architectural History Network Seventh International Meeting
Madrid, Spain, 15-19 June 2022

The scientific committee for EAHN 2022 in Madrid 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.


EAHN 2022 will take place in Madrid, Spain, hosted by the School of Architecture of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 15-19 June 2022. Abstracts are invited for the sessions and round tables listed below by September 6, 2021. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted through the conference platform, along with applicant’s name, email address, professional affiliation, address, telephone number and a short curriculum vitae (one page, PDF format).


Sessions will consist of either five papers or four papers and a respondent, with time for dialogue and questions at the end. Each paper should 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

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.

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 20 thematic sessions and 5 round tables listed below, open sessions may be announced. With the author’s approval, thematic session chairs may choose to recommend for inclusion in an open session an abstract that was submitted to, but does not fit into, a thematic session.

Session and round table chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals and comment on them by October 15, 2021. All chairs have the prerogative to recommend changes to the abstract in order to coordinate it with a session or round table program. The selected speakers must return edited abstracts to chairs no later than November 15, 2021. Authors of accepted paper proposals must submit the complete text of their papers (for a 20-minute presentation) to their session chair or complete draft of discussion position (for a 10-minute presentation) to their round table chair by February 1, 2022. Chairs may suggest editorial revisions to a paper or discussion position in order to make it satisfy session or round table guidelines and will return it with comments to the speaker by March 1, 2022. Speakers must complete any revisions and distribute copies of their paper or discussion position to the chair and the other speakers or discussants by April 4, 2022. Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper or a discussion position from the program if the author has refused to comply with these guidelines. It is the responsibility of the chair(s) to inform speakers of these guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for both a session and participation in this meeting. Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own registration, travel and expenses to Madrid, Spain.

This Call for Papers and Discussion Positions can also be read at the EAHN website – http://www.eahn.org.


● S01 – Architectural Criticism: Constructing a History

● S02 – Architectural culture in Charles V’s Empire (1519-1556). From global ambitions to scientific approaches

● S03 – Bathroom Matters: Architectures and Infrastructures of the Twentieth Century

● S04 – Building from Print: Reconsidering the agency of the building manual

● S05 – Countercultural Trends: Contemporary Readings on Late 20th Century Architectural Texts and Works

● S06 – Diplomatic Architecture and Changing Power Relations from Imperialism to Post-Colonialism

● S07 – Embodied Energy Through Time: Architecture and its Histories of Resource Consumption

● S08 – Histories of Informal Architecture

● S09 – Learning from Madrid, an open session on Contemporary Urban Peripheries

● S10 – Magical Architecture

● S11 – Mid-Century Modern Architecture and the Academic Tradition

● S12 – Non-Aligned Narratives – South and Eastern European Architectural Criticism during the Cold War

● S13 – Poetry Designing Architecture: A Global Exploration of Structures Arising from Poetry

● S14 – The Architecture of Global Governance

● S15 – The Combinatorial Imperative: Discourses and Practices of Architectural Modularity in the 20th Century

● S16 – The compact city inside out. Compact cities throughout the ages

● S17 – Untimely Teachers: Recovering Postmodernism’s Anachronic Pedagogies

● S18 – Urban Design and the Rediscovery of the Historic City

● S19 – Women and Radical Bureaucracy

● S20 – Women in Architectural Periodicals: Gender Stereotypes, Feminist Discourse and the Female Gaze


● RT01 – But today we collect likes: digital mass media, history and new research methodologies.

● RT02 – From the South

● RT03 – Historiography, get it right!

● RT04 – The conditioned ground

● RT05 – Toxics / Architectural Histories

Important: For the individual calls for each of these sessions and roundtables, view the Sessions page on the EAHN 2022 conference website.

Deadline 6 September 2021

Screenshot of EAHN 2022 conference website. CLICK TO VISIT

Altar of Shroud Chapel Restored

Holy Week Unveiling

As Musei Reali Torino announced yesterday, work has concluded on the restoration of the altar in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin. While the chapel itself reopened to the public in September 2018, twenty-one years after the devastating fire of April 1997, restoration of its reliquary altar continued until this month.

The altar, positioned in the center of the chapel, was designed by the Piedmontese architect and engineer Antonio Bertola (1647-1619). It is composed of the same black Frabosa marble as the chapel itself, with additional elements made of gilded wood. The placement of the altar allowed viewing of the relic from two sides, from both the palace and from the cathedral, underlining its role in representing the Savoy dynasty and as a popular devotional object for the citizens of Turin. After six years of construction, beginning in 1688, a solemn festival marked the transfer of the Shroud to the altar in 1694, officially inaugurating Guarino Guarini’s chapel eleven years after his death. Today the relic is housed elsewhere in the cathedral complex.

Since the reopening in 2018, visitors access the Shroud Chapel from the Palazzo Reale, part of the Musei Reali Torino.  Although the museum is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning today until 7 April the cathedral offers an extraordinary viewing opportunity over the Easter holidays: the great window between the cathedral and the chapel will be opened to allow visitors to see the chapel and restored altar from the cathedral nave as Guarini originally intended.

The video below, released by the Musei Reali Torino, documents the restoration of the altar.

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Further Reading

● For additional information and links regarding the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin, see my post Cappella della Sindone Reopened (from September 2018).

New Website Reconstructs 1937 Piedmontese Baroque Exhibition

A Project of the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura

As part of its broad research project Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750 the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura has launched a new website reconstructing the Mostra del Barocco Piemontese that was shown in Turin in 1937. Long recognized as a key event in the study and public presentation of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture, historiographic analysis of the exhibition has suffered because the catalogue for the show was never published, leaving no obvious record of its achievement. The curator responsible for the 1937 show, Vittorio Viale, later organized the famous 1963 Mostra del Barocco Piemontese with its substantial three-volume catalogue.

The new website, drawing on the work of the Antico/ Moderno research group on Barocco in Piemonte – Barocco in Europa. A cinquant’anni dalla mostra del 1963, gathers available evidence from museum archives and other sources to reconstruct the ambitious 1937 show. The material is presented in texts, images, videos, and a database of objects displayed in the exhibition, and website visitors can click through a gallery-by-gallery reconstruction of the exhibition experience. The documents include the entire photographic campaign for the exhibition, notes for the unpublished catalogue, as well as other related publications that appeared in conjunction with the Mostra. Information on the exhibition venues, the organizer Vittorio Viale and others involved in mounting the show, the thematic threads, as well as a library of the published reviews rounds out the rich documentation assembled by the team.

Screenshot of the Mostra del Barocco Piemontese 1937 website. Click image to visit the site.

A book of essays by the Barocco in Piemonte – Barocco in Europa research group is currently in press, and will complement the new website with in-depth analysis of both the 1937 and 1963 exhibitions. I’m delighted to have contributed two essays to this project, and will announce its publication in a post to this blog when it is available later this year.

“En gut jar”: A Good Year

Christ Child With New Year’s Wish (Anonymous, German, 15th century)
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art / public domain

This fifteenth-century hand-colored woodcut of the Christ Child functions as an early kind of greeting card for the New Year. The image depicts the young Christ sitting on a floral cloth or rug in a meadow. The Child holds a bird (parrot?) in his hands, while two small rabbits (or squirrels?) rest and nibble in the lower right corner. A banderole inscribed with “En gut jar” (a good year) unfurls from a vase of flowers in the lower left corner. In his Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (1997), Jeffrey Hamburger explains a key detail of the image and its use [p. 198]:

Herb candies and cookies were (and remain) traditional New Year’s gifts – so much so that in an Alsatian woodcut of about 1470 that wishes the viewer “En gut jar,” a box of sweets sits half open at Christ’s feet.

Such treats often accompanied letters conveying New Year’s greetings, as Hamburger demonstrates based on nuns’ correspondence.

Several similar late fifteenth-century New Year’s prints with the Christ Child from the southern German-speaking regions survive in other collections, such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum, as well as another example at the Metropolitan Museum, although none of these include the box of sweets. All, however, exploit the then-new technology of printing to disseminate greetings to a larger circle of recipients than would have been the case with handwritten messages. In this sense, using the even greater reach of today’s digital technology, wishing all readers of this post a very Happy New Year in 2021, wherever you may be. Hope you have some sweet treats at hand to celebrate the occasion!

Al Lettore

To the Reader

Anyone who has ever submitted texts for publication will appreciate the foreword to the Gianelli edition of Guarino Guarini’s Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin: Per gl’Eredi Gianelli,1686). The foreword did not appear in the second (or pirated) edition of the Dissegni published by the former Gianelli associate Domenico Paulino in the same year.

This somewhat arcane piece of Guariniana reflects the frustration of an editor faced with an impossible task: on the one hand, to satisfy demand for new content as quickly as possible, while on the other hand dealing with an apparently disorganized and highly specialized manuscript submission left incomplete after the author’s untimely death in March 1683.

In rough translation, the text reads:


Father Guarino Guarini, having composed various treatises of architecture for the public benefit, was prevented by death before being able to publish them. And while one is working to organize them for publication, his designs – both for churches and for palaces – have been sought after from various quarters. It seemed good to satisfy the desires of many who seek them, as well as to give the field  to the experts in this profession, to take some inspirations, and manners of architecture, by giving a preview of these designs [that must suffice] until the point when one can submit the entire book for publication.

As it happened, the full publication of Guarini’s fragmentary treatise took another 51 years. The book was published in 1737 – edited by the young Bernardo Antonio Vittone – as Architettura civile (Turin: Appresso Gianfrancesco Mairesse all’Insegna di Santa Teresa di Gesù, 1737).

This foreword resonates with any scholar who has publications stuck in a seemingly endless pipeline of submission, editorial review, peer review, and image rights. Personally, I have two articles long in the making slated for publication in early 2021, and a major project – in the works since 2014 – to be submitted to the publisher before Christmas this year. A couple other substantial projects are stuck farther back in the pipeline, with publication still at some indeterminate future date.

In scholarly publishing, some things never change. I do hope that these projects will finally appear in print during my lifetime, however! Stay tuned for updates…

EAHN Conference Updates

Although I have stepped back from active involvement in the European Architectural History Network (EAHN), I am always delighted to note and share information about the preparations for the organization’s conferences. This past month brought updates on both the sixth and seventh biennial conferences, to be held in Edinburgh and Madrid, respectively.

EAHN 2021 in Edinburgh: Postponed Conference To Be Held Online

The EAHN’s sixth international meeting was originally scheduled for June 2020 in Edinburgh. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was postponed for one year, and is now designated as EAHN 2021. The co-chairs of the Edinburgh conference have issued a statement about the new online format for the event. Their message appears below as posted on the conference website.

A Message from Richard Williams and Richard Anderson, EAHN2021 co-chairs

Welcome back to EAHN2021! The big news is that the 2021 conference is going fully online. We’re keeping the same big programme, and the same global scope, but taking the whole event online. The dates remain the same as before, 2-5 June 2021.

Ongoing uncertainties about travel in 2020-21 mean this is the right thing to do, but we know from the experience of other conferences that have gone online this year is that they can not only maintain the same quality of debate, but they can also access new audiences who might not have been able to travel to an in-person event. That is a great attraction for us, and to make that possible, we will keep the conference fee as low as possible.

We’re working with a team of professional conference organisers based at the University of Edinburgh to deliver the online event. All speakers and session chairs will get full training in the use of their platform, and we will work hard to make sure the experience at the delegate end is as straightforward and smooth as possible.

Right now, we are working with everyone who has been involved in the conference so far to enable the transition online. We hope to establish the final shape and scope of the new conference in the next few weeks, and at that point we will update the website with detailed information about programmes and sessions. Registration will open in January 2021. More information on that, including pricing, will follow in late autumn.

EAHN2021 will be different – but it will also be a great event, and we are looking forward to welcoming new audiences for the conference, people who wouldn’t have been able to make it to an in person event here. Do follow us on twitter (@EAHN2021) for the latest updates, and watch the website for more over the coming months.

EAHN 2022 in Madrid: Call for Sessions and Roundtables

After earlier EAHN international conferences in Guimarães, Brussels, Turin, Dublin, Tallinn, and Edinburgh, the seventh edition will take place in Madrid. 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. Make sure to submit your proposal by the deadline of 30 December 2020.

From the conference website:

Call for Sessions and Round Tables
Open until December 30, 2020

Despite the fact that the Sixth Biannual Conference of the European Architectural History Network, to be held in Edinburgh, was forced to be postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis, the network intends to regain its usual rhythm of holding conferences in even years, so it is already organising a Seventh pan-European meeting in Madrid for 2022. In accordance with the EAHN mission statement, this meeting aims to increase the visibility of the discipline; to foster transnational, interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches to the study of the built environment; and to facilitate the exchange of research results in the field. Though the scope of the meeting is European, members of the larger scholarly community are invited to submit proposals related not only to Europe’s geographical framework, but also to its transcontinental aspects.

The main purpose of the meeting is to map the general state of research in disciplines related to the built environment, to promote discussion of current themes and concerns, and to foster new directions for research in the field. Session proposals are intended to cover different periods in the history of architecture and different approaches to the built environment, including landscape and urban history. Parallel sessions will consist of either five papers or four papers and a respondent, with time for dialogue and questions at the end. In addition, a limited number of round-table debates addressing burning issues in the field will also take place at the meeting. Proposals are sought for round-table debates that re-map, re-define, and outline the current discipline. They will typically consist of a discussion between panel members and encourage debate with the audience. The goal is to create a forum in which different scholars can present and discuss their ideas, research materials and methodologies.

Scholars wishing to chair a scholarly session or a round table debate at Madrid 2022 are invited to submit proposals by the CFSR form up to December 30, 2020: https://eventos.upm.es/53558/upload/eahn-seventh-international-meeting.html

Membership will be required to chair or present research at the meeting. To join EAHN, go to https://eahn.org or contact office@EAHN.org. Each session or round table chair is expected to fund his/her own travel and related expenses to participate in the conference.

Proposals in English of no more than 400 words should summarize the subject and the premise. Please include name, professional affiliation (if applicable), address, telephone and fax numbers, email address, and a current CV. Proposals and one-page CVs should be submitted by the form. Since late submissions cannot be considered, it is recommended that proposals be submitted, and their receipt confirmed well before the deadline. The General Chair cannot be responsible for last-minute submissions, electronic or otherwise, that fail to reach their destination.

Session and round-table proposals will be selected on the basis of merit and the need to organise a well-balanced program. A few open sessions or round tables may be organised by the Scientific Committee, depending on the response to the following call for papers. Should a chosen proposal be found in an identical format in a different conference, the Scientific Committee reserves the right to withdraw it from the programme.

For further information: eahn2022conference.arquitectura@upm.es

An Allegory of Good and Bad Government

Italian School, Allegory of Good and Bad Government, 16th Century, Pierpont Morgan Library, Gift of János Scholz, 1982.71.
Source: Pierpont Morgan Library / Terms & Conditions

Virtues, Vices, and Our Current Condition

Choose your approach to governance: do you prefer Charity, Justice, and Love; or Avarice, Injustice, and Hatred?

This modest, anonymous, late sixteenth-century Italian drawing really hits home with its powerful message during the current period of global turmoil. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread civic unrest, and looming elections in the United States, the image distills the choices facing us as a society.

At the upper left, three figures set out into the world from a city gate, apparently as emissaries of the citizens and their government. Identified by inscriptions as well as traditional attributes – Charity (“Carita”) nursing children, Justice (“giustitia”) with a sword and scales, and Love (“Amor”) with Cupid’s wings – they symbolize the virtues of a good government radiating beyond its own jurisdiction.

Closer to us, in the right foreground, three other figures trudge wearily toward another city gate, welcomed by officials and soon to mingle with the inhabitants. They, too, are identified with inscriptions and attributes – Avarice (“Avaritia”) with her purse, Injustice (“Ingiustitia”) dragging her sword, with the scales slung useless over her shoulder, and Hatred (“odio”) depicted as an old man (as described by Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia). These vices characteristic of a bad government could be easily shut out of the city, but the authorities eagerly usher them into their realm.

This anonymous drawing from the Morgan Library presents a condensed view of the opposition between Good and Bad Government, in contrast, for instance, to the much more elaborate exposition of the theme in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Trecento frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. Nonetheless, this reduction to the essentials underscores the choices facing citizens of any republic: shall we be known to the world through the virtues of Charity, Justice, and Love, or do we instead embrace Greed, Injustice, and Hatred?

Despite the intervening centuries, this is the fundamental choice still confronting much of the world today.


Do you want Good Government or Bad Government? Your opinion matters!

For my American readers, please make sure you are registered to vote in the US general election on 3 November so that your voice may be heard in this crucial national election.

Consult the following links to inform yourself and make sure your vote counts.

I Will Vote
Promises Made, Promises Broken – Keep America Great
Biden / Harris: Battle for the Soul of the Nation
FVAP: Federal Voting Assistance Program: (for US military members and US citizens abroad)

Turner in Turin

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Façade of S. Giovanni, the Cathedral at Turin, 1819. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856.
Source: The Tate Gallery / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

In the summer, one’s thoughts turn to travel – experiences in distant destinations, often captured in diaries and sketchbooks. But in the era of COVID-19, mobility is limited, and one must often resort to vicarious voyages.

Consider Joseph Mallord William Turner. He traveled to Italy twice, in 1819 and 1828-9. On both occasions he passed through Turin and made numerous sketches of the city and its surroundings in his sketchbooks now preserved in the Tate. Seven years ago I referred to his drawings of baroque buildings in Turin in a blog post focusing on John Singer Sargent, but could only link to them on the Tate website. In the meantime, the Tate has made images from its collection available under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. This means one is free to include images of Turner’s sketches in a blog post as long as proper attribution is made, and his drawings certainly merit a closer look with this generous license.

On both trips to Turin, Turner sketched the chief monuments of the historic city center – the Piazza Castello with Palazzo Madama (by Filippo Juvarra), the church of San Lorenzo (by Guarino Guarini), the Palazzo Reale, and the cathedral with its campanile (upper story by Juvarra) and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud (Guarini). He also looked farther afield to Superga and the Monte dei Cappuccini. Turner seems to have been particularly enamored of the Shroud Chapel, drawing it several times from various angles. During an age characterized by backlash against the baroque opulence of previous centuries, he delighted in the prickly silhouette of the reliquary chapel.

His fascination with the building over a decade recalls the description of the chapel written nearly a century earlier by another Englishman, Joseph Spence:

“like a pineapple on the autside”

“…that celebrated dome is a collection of angles (something like a pineapple on the autside and like nothing in the world on the inside).”
– Joseph Spence (1740)*

Like a pineapple, the exterior of the Shroud Chapel is exotic and otherworldly, an artifact of a place far away from the quotidian cares of life at home.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Campanile and Dome of Cathedral at Turin, 1819. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856.
Source: The Tate Gallery / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Piazza Castello, Turin, 1819. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856.
Source: The Tate Gallery / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Place du Palais Madame, Turin, 1828-9. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856.
Source: The Tate Gallery / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

*Joseph Spence, Letters from the Grand Tour, edited by Slava Klima (Montreal & London: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975), quoted in Valentina Assandria, Chiara Gauna, and Giuseppina Tetti, “L’architettura descritta: viaggiatori e guide a Torino tra Sei e Settecento,” in G. Dardanello, editor, Sperimentare l’architettura. Guarini, Juvarra, Alfieri, Borra e Vittone (Turin: Fondazione CRT, 2001): 325-345; here 337.