Update to Guarino Guarini Resources

Some of the original periodicals are also yellowed. Here, D. G. Cravero, “Il Palazzo Carignano.” Atti e rassegna tecnica della Società degli ingegneri e degli architetti in Torino 5, no. 2 (1951): 55–63.
Source: Digital Repository, Politecnico di Torino

My files for my work include dozens of tattered old photocopies that I painstakingly collected during the work on my dissertation decades ago. Some of these historic articles appeared in obscure journals available only in a limited number of libraries. As the copies fade and the paper yellows, I sometimes wonder how much longer the texts will be legible.

Fortunately, more and more of these publications are being digitized. Last month, a sentimental favorite of mine – Hugo Schmerber’s “Einige Nachrichten über Guarino Guarini,” (Monatsberichte über Kunstwissenschaft und Kunsthandel 2, no. 8 (1902): 286–87) – appeared among the wonderful art journals digitized at the University of Heidelberg. A quote from Schmerber’s brief article served as a kind of motto for my dissertation: “Bei einem Manne, der wie Guarini sein Leben einem Orden geweiht hat, erscheint es einleuchtend, dass er in seinem Wirken als Künstler mehr oder minder von der religiösen Genossenschaft, der er angehörte, influenziert war.” His essay also provided the first published discussion of Guarini’s Prague design and its historic context.

I have now updated the Resources section of this website with a new page that gathers links to Schmerber and digitized versions of other older literature on Guarino Guarini. All the items date to before 1970, when the Guarini literature virtually exploded due to the catalytic effect of the 1968 conference on the architect held in Turin. The page will be updated periodically as new material becomes available in digitized formats.

Complete List of Resources Pages

Guarini’s Publications Online
Early Biographies of Guarini
Guarini Drawings Online
Guarini Sites Outside Turin
Guarino Guarini Timeline
Older Literature on Guarino Guarini Online
Other Guarini Resources
Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

An Eighteenth-Century French Engraving of San Lorenzo, Turin

Gabriel-Pierre-Martin Dumont, after Guarino Guarini, “Plan, et coupe de la chapelle royale du St. Suaire de Turin” [but in fact San Lorenzo, Turin], 1781.
From: [Oeuvres de] Jacques-Germain Soufflot, plate 16.
Source: Bibliothèque de l’Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA), collections Jacques Doucet / “Licence Ouverte / Open Licence” Etalab

Inspiration for the Panthéon in Paris

This print has fascinated me ever since I discussed it in an article in 2001. The image reproduces the plan and section of Guarino Guarini’s church of San Lorenzo, Turin, based on plates from the architect’s treatise, except the caption misidentifies the building as Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud (Cappella della Sindone). As the caption goes on to say, Jacques-Germain Soufflot, the architect of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, had the plate engraved by Gabriel-Pierre-Martin Dumont to bolster the number of authoritative examples for constructing the dome of his church.

Sainte-Geneviève (now the Panthéon) was constructed from 1758-1790, and spirited discussions in the architectural community accompanied the long process of planning and realization. In several meetings of the French academy of architecture, Soufflot defended his plans to construct a large, structurally daring dome over the crossing of the church. In these sessions, he cited multiple precedents that he had seen on his travels throughout Europe: the churches of Notre Dame in Dijon, Toussaints in Angers, Sant’Agostino in Piacenza, San Carlo al Corso in Rome, Christopher Wren’s Saint Mary-le-Bow in London, Milan cathedral, and unnamed churches by Guarino Guarini. From the guidebook published by Soufflot’s traveling companion Charles-Nicolas Cochin, we know that the French architect had been to Turin and had seen both San Lorenzo and the Cappella della Sindone in 1750.

This extraordinary print testifies to Soufflot’s appreciation of Guarini’s structural achievement at San Lorenzo. Since Soufflot hoped to build a dome at Sainte-Geneviève seemingly supported primarily by slender columns, San Lorenzo provided a good example of how to do this. Guarini’s design at San Lorenzo relied on a framework of hidden brick and timber arches to support the dome, rather than placing any significant weight on the marble columns that visually carry the superstructure.

The mistake in the caption was perhaps due to confusion on the part of the engraver Dumont as he produced the print after Soufflot’s death in 1780. Construction of the church continued for another decade until it was completed after the beginning of the French Revolution.

Soufflot’s commission of such an engraving is surprising in view of the criticism of Italian baroque architecture voiced by the French architectural writers in the eighteenth century. French critics targeted Guarini in particular because of his ill-fated, incomplete church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale in Paris. Nonetheless, Soufflot’s admiration for San Lorenzo demonstrates the power of an innovative architectural solution to transcend polemics based on style, taste, and nationality.

Fredrick Nash, Interior of the Panthéon in Paris, first half 19th century. Watercolor over graphite.
Source: Cleveland Museum of Art / public domain

 

White Walls: Practical Advice from Guarino Guarini

“Paint your neighbor’s wall white”

Guarino Guarini’s posthumous architectural treatise Archittetura civile (Turin: Mairesse, 1737) is filled with common sense observations. This one on the power of white paint, in a larger section devoted to optical adjustments for altering the perception of architecture, is one of my favorites:

Gli Oggetti, che sono bianchi pajono più grandi, che di colore oscuro, ò nero, e più illuminati

… Il bianco ha forza disgregare e dilatare la vista, e perciò le cose bianche paiono sempre maggiori di quelle che sono d’altro colore; massime che nel bianco ogni sinuosità si conosce a motivo del’ombre, che nel bianco più si vedono che in qualunque altra spezie di colore. Che poi appariscono più luminose è si manifesto, che nelle contrade strette ed oscure per aver luce maggiore nelle stanze basta imbiancare l’opposto muro del vicino.

Architettura civile, Trattato III, Capo xxi, Osservazione 6, p. 159.

[“Objects that are white seem larger and brighter than those of a dark color or black
… White has the power to fragment and widen sight, and therefore white things always seem bigger than those that are of another color; especially since in white every sinuosity is revealed because of the shadows, which you can see in white more than in any other kind of color. That they then appear brighter is shown since in narrow and dark streets to get more light in your rooms it suffices to paint your neighbor’s opposite wall white.”]

I am considering using this tactic for a dark window well in my basement – some of Guarini’s advice is still relevant today!

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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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.

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.