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

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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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!

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.

A Summer Evening at Racconigi

On hot summer days, one longs for the cooler hours from dusk to dawn. Guarino Guarini had this in mind when planning the country estate of Racconigi (1676ff.), south of Turin, for his patron Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Carignano.

A few years before Guarini began work at the site, the prince had commissioned the French landscape architect André Le Nôtre to design the extensive gardens on the estate grounds.

Guarini’s main contribution to the complex was his project for remodeling the estate’s medieval castello into a baroque palace, of which only the tract along the garden facade was completed. But the architect also provided other designs for the estate and the adjacent town. One such project was a garden pavilion for the Racconigi grounds, which Guarini used to illustrate a passage about “oblique” architecture in his treatise Architettura civile (published posthumously in 1737). Guarini described the garden pavilion – reproduced above – as:

“…un Casino, o Pinacolo per un Giardino per ritirarli nella State, e massime sulla sera a cena fatto pel Serenissimo Principe di Carignano nel Giardino deliziosissimo, e vastissimo di Racconigi…”

that is:

“…a casino, or gazebo for a garden, to withdraw to in the summer, especially for dinner in the evenings, made for the most serene Prince of Carignano in the delightful and vast garden of Racconigi…”

The text passage refers to the upper image (elevation) on the plate reproduced above, and some of the partial plans on the right of the plate. The lower image (section) is for a different, unidentified design, discussed in the second “Osservazione” of the treatise chapter. The exact position of the Racconigi casino in the park of the castello remains unknown, as do the details of its construction, whether of stone, wood, or brick. Any traces of it must have vanished when the gardens were redesigned in the late eighteenth century and again in the nineteenth century.

The gazebo would have furnished a splendid setting for summer dinner parties in the cool of the evening, with provisions ferried from the kitchens in the main house, or perhaps prepared outdoors. But these delights were reserved for a select few: the prince and his invited guests.

The Racconigi gardens are open to the public today, but only until 7 pm. They feature a bird sanctuary with wetlands for storks and ducks – and some of the storks nest right on top of the castello! Even if you can’t dine in the gardens, it is a refreshing place to spend a summer day.

Links:

Castello di Racconigi (official website)

Castello di Racconigi (page for Racconigi on the Royal Residences of Piedmont website, in English)

Centro Cicogne e Anatidi, Racconigi (bird sanctuary)

● Click on the Google Map below and use Street View to enjoy a virtual stroll through the Racconigi grounds.

Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750

Research Project Website Online

For the past two years, the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura has supported the research project Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750, which comprises several different strands of historiographic inquiry on the baroque, all coordinated by the scientific directors Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello. It has been a privilege for me to be involved in this stimulating initiative with such an inspiring group of scholars.

As the various working groups gradually wrap up their activities, the Fondazione 1563 has launched new webpages describing the research and presenting the resulting outputs. The project homepage outlines the components of the initiative. Each component, in turn, has its own webpage. Additional pages document the research outputs, in the form of videos and publications. To date, these include:

Conference Videos: Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

For those who missed the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia: Le grandi mostre del Novecento in November 2016, all introductions, papers, and responses from the meeting may now be viewed in fourteen videos. A separate volume of conference proceedings is forthcoming in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563.

The opening remarks for the conference (video below) by the late Rosaria Cigliano, president of the Fondazione 1563, are particularly poignant after her premature death last month.

The conference examined issues concerning the reception of Baroque painting, sculpture, and architecture in twentieth-century exhibitions in Italy, with a special emphasis on Piedmont. For a summary of the conference contributions, see my earlier post on the subject.

Video Reconstructions of Historic Exhibitions, 1937 and 1963

The project component Barocco in Piemonte – Barocco in Europa: a cinquant’anni dalla mostra del 1963 involved several scholars working together with a seminar of students at the Università di Torino in order to reassess the history, historiography, and reception of the two large exhbitions of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture organized by Vittorio Viale in 1937 and 1963. Under the guidance of Sara Abram and Giuseppe Dardanello, the students worked to reconstruct the nearly forgotten exhibition of 1937, and compare it with the intervening evolution of the field as manifested in the second exhibition twenty-six years later. A forthcoming volume in the series Quaderni di Ricerca will publish this work, along with additional framing essays by established scholars.

Abram and Dardanello presented initial results of this research at the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia in the form of videos reconstructing the two exhibitions. The Fondazione 1563 has made both films available online as well as a third video introducing the reconstructions (below).

La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi

The first in a series of six volumes produced by the Antico/Moderno teams, La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi, edited by Andrea Bacchi and Liliana Barroero, publishes the contributions to a three-part seminar held in Rome in spring 2016. Covering the late nineteenth through late twentieth centuries, each of the sixteen essays revisits a fundamental text of the art and architectural history of the Baroque, and situates it within the international historiography on the period.

For more information, view the publisher’s flyer or the table of contents.

More to come…

Stay tuned in the coming months for additional research outputs from this initiative.

Another Crumbling Facade – This Time in Turin

Minor Damage to Facade of San Lorenzo

Last week, the Turin newspaper La Stampa reported that some stucco fell off a rusticated quoin-like corner pilaster of the facade of San Lorenzo. Fortunately no one was injured when the debris landed on Piazza Castello below. The incident recalls the one in Modena last year, when portions of a corner capital at Guarino Guarini’s Theatine casa of San Vincenzo (now a courthouse) broke off and landed on the Canal Grande street below.

The photo gallery below takes advantage of La Stampa‘s generous Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensing for local reporting to share some images of the damage.

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The San Lorenzo facade predates Guarini’s arrival in Turin in late 1666. It is already visible in close to its current form in a fresco in the Stanza delle Magnificenze (c. 1662-65) at the Castello del Valentino. Originally an open portico on the ground floor with rooms above, the openings to the piazza were walled up in 1661, creating what now serves as the church’s narthex. Guarini’s church thus rose behind this preexisting portico block when it was constructed from 1670-1680.

Guarini’s own plans for the facade called for covering the existing structure with a kind of sheathing of pilasters, columns, and rich ornaments, possibly inspired by an unexecuted design (c. 1643) by Antonio Maurizio Valperga for the facade of the adjacent Palazzo Ducale, now Palazzo Reale. When Guarini’s design, too, remained unexecuted, and with few other intervening changes, the church facade still essentially corresponds to the state seen in the fresco at Valentino (view the fresco in the video at the bottom of this post).

San Lorenzo facade comparison

Comparison of Guarini’s proposed facade for San Lorenzo, Turin, with the extant building
Sources: Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin: Per gl’Eredi Gianelli, 1686), plate 5 (Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive /public domain); and Wikimedia Commons / public domain

As in Modena, one hopes that this minor incident serves as a wake-up call for the authorities to invest in necessary maintenance, if for no other reason than to protect the public from falling debris. (They should be well aware of the damage: the office of the relevant Soprintendenza is in the building next door.)

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Further reading:

Henry A. Millon, review of G. M. Crepaldi, La Real Chiesa Di San Lorenzo in Torino, Turin, 1963, in Art Bulletin 47, no. 4 (Dec. 1965): 531-532; here 531.

Susan Klaiber, Guarino Guarini’s Theatine Architecture, Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University, 1993): 204-207; 216-218; 277-280.

Susan Klaiber, “Le fonti per San Lorenzo,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 328-337.

Open Access Sources on Guarini and Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

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Three Free Downloads
Birthdays are for celebrating and for birthday presents. So to mark the birthday of Guarino Guarini (born 17 January 1624), this post highlights three useful publications on the architect that are freely available online. The first two are traditionally included in any bibliography on Guarini and Piedmontese Baroque architecture, and the third one should be more widely known. Two of the items date to the heyday of studies on Piedmontese Baroque in the 1960s, while the third represents the state of Guarini scholarship at the turn of the millennium. All are hosted by generous institutional repositories: two at universities, and the third at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. As for language, there’s something for everyone, take your pick of German, Italian, or English.

1. Maria Anderegg-Tille, Die Schule Guarinis (Winterthur: P. G. Keller, 1962).
andereggtilleThis study originated as a dissertation at the ETH Zürich. It focuses primarily on architects operating and buildings constructed in Guarini’s wake in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Piedmont. Some projects discussed, however, are directly tied to Guarini himself. Wittkower deemed it a “somewhat pedantic work, based on the categories developed by A. E. Brinckmann half a century before.” Yet it remains useful as one of the few publications to consider neglected projects such as the model for San Giacomo Maggiore in Campertogno or the chapel in Gerbido.

Download (17 MB)

2. Carlo Brayda, Laura Coli, and Dario Sesia, “Specializzazioni e vita professionale nel sei e settecento in Piemonte” and “Ingegneri e architetti del Sei e Settecento in Piemonte,” Atti e Rassegna Tecnica / Società Degli Ingegneri e Degli Architetti in Torino n.s. 17:3 (1963): 73-174.
brayda-coli-sesiaWittkower described this lengthy article as “731 names with brief biographies and chronological oeuvre catalogues. Extremely useful.” Although some of the information here is outdated (or was inaccurate to begin with, such as the specious attribution of Sant’Andrea in Bra to Bernini and Guarini, based on campanilismo), the catalogue remains the only convenient source of information on many minor architects of the Piedmontese Baroque. On Guarini, see pp. 113-114.

Download (75 MB)
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic License.

 

3. Martha Pollak, “Guarino Guarini (1624-1683),” in The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection, Volume IV: Italian and Spanish Books, Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2000): 178-183.
pollak-millardAn interesting account of Guarini’s career centered on his architectural treatise Architettura civile, published posthumously in 1737. Martha Pollak is one of the leading scholars of Piedmontese Baroque architecture and urbanism, and she provides valuable personal interpretive accents.
As a bonus, do take a look at the other three volumes cataloging the Mark Millard Architectural Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington: Vol. I: French Books; vol. II: British Books; and vol. III: Northern European Books.

Download (177 MB)

Historic Film on Baroque in Piedmont

 

This thirty-five minute film, Piemonte Barocco, was apparently produced to complement the enormous 1963 exhibition on Baroque art and architecture held in three venues in and around Turin, the Mostra del Barocco Piemontese. It is presented by Marziano Bernardi, a Turinese art critic who wrote for La Stampa for many years and was a prolific author.

Interestingly, the film offers some alternative views of Piedmontese Baroque art and architecture not otherwise represented in the official exhibition, with trips to Venaria Reale (then unrestored), a private Turinese drawings collection, and a significant private palace on the Piazza San Carlo.

The film was directed by Carlo Casalegno and posted to YouTube in April 2014 by the Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte with the permission of Rai Teche.

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Sequences, with approximate position in minutes: Opening credits (0:13); Booming postwar economy in Turin (0:50); introduction with Marziano Bernardi (MB) in Palazzo Reale (1:20); overview of buildings in the historic center of Turin and elsewhere in Piedmont (1:55); MB in Palazzo Reale discusses the palace and the Mostra del Barocco Piemontese (2:50); exhibition highlights by section, beginning with ceramics (5:04); metalwork (6:34); furniture (7:19); tapestry (8:06); MB at Venaria Reale, presentation of Venaria Reale (8:45); the Savoy dynasty’s transformation of Turin into their capital (10:04); Palazzo Reale (11:10); Venaria Reale and La Mandria (12:10); palaces in Turin (13:13); Filippo Juvarra, Baroque theater, scenography, ephemera, influence in painting and architecture (13:34); other Baroque themes, magnificence, the exotic, etc., in painting (17:30); genre painting (19:07); religion (19:40); MB in cappella della Sindone, Baroque themes of science, death (20:15); Guarino Guarini (22:38); survey drawings of the Shroud chapel by Mario Passanti (22:47); churches with popular cults, Corpus Domini, Consolata (23:25); MB visits Luigi Cibario, great-grandson of 19th-c. Turinese historian, views private collection of drawings (23:55); Palazzo Solaro del Borgo with Accademia Filarmonica in Piazza San Carlo (26:50); Stupinigi and the hunt (30:19); provincial churches and palaces (32:25).

Summer Postcards

Last week the Austrian National Library launched its digitized postcard portal AKON Ansichtskarten Online with over 75,000 historic postcards available to browse and download. The AKON portal supplements several other similar online resources such as the E-Pics Image Archive at the ETH Zurich, which includes a large group of historic postcards assembled by the Swiss collector Adolf Feller. Both collections focus primarily on European postcards. Many of these images provide valuable information about buildings or urban ensembles now destroyed or dramatically altered, while others offer amusing presentations of familiar sites.

Good online collections emphasizing American postcards include the Boston Public Library’s Tichnor Brothers Collection, the National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection at the University of Maryland, and the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery (here search under the genre “Postcards”).

Most images are freely available to use and download under a variety of Creative Commons licenses or public domain designations. The navigation on the AKON site is intuitive but slightly clumsy, based on a zoomable world map. The ETH site includes extensive metadata with its images, automatically creating captions.

A loose sampling of postcards from these collections follows, grouped under the headings “Work” and “Play.” The first category features sites that have occupied me professionally during the past year, while the second shares snapshots of my summer vacation. Click any image to link to its source.

Work

Torino, Palazzo Madama, Castello Medioevale, Mono. Vitt. Emanuele, II. Ricordo Nazionale

Torino, Palazzo Madama, Castello Medioevale, Mono. Vitt. Emanuele, II. Ricordo Nazionale

Torino, Veduta del Po, colla Grand Madre di Dio ed il monte dei Cappuccini

Torino, Veduta del Po, colla Grand Madre di Dio ed il monte dei Cappuccini

Strambino

Messina

Roma, Panorama dalla Cupola di S. Pietro

Roma, Panorama dalla Cupola di S. Pietro

Roma, Piazza S. Pietro, Ispirazioni Divine

Roma, Piazza S. Pietro, Ispirazioni Divine

Play

Zurich

Chicago Skyline

Macatawa MI

Ottawa Beach Holland MI

P.S.: The Boston Public Library gives an incorrect location for Lake Macatawa – it is in Ottawa County in western Michigan.