“A relick of high esteem”: An English Visitor in Turin and the Cult of the Shroud

The recent two-month ostension of the Shroud of Turin concluded this past week with the visit of Pope Francis. Now that the relic has been safely returned to its climate-controlled case in the cathedral, the Shroud reverts again to its usual state as an invisible presence in the city.

This inter-ostension condition of the Shroud is that experienced by the vast majority of travelers to Turin since the relic’s arrival there in 1578. Prevented from seeing the Shroud itself, written accounts of it by these visitors instead focus on the outer trappings associated with the cloth – the chapel containing it, images of it, and rituals involving it. This was also the case for those celebrating the New Year 1682 in the Savoy capital.

Stopping in Turin for the New Year 1681-2

Fitzroy Northumberland British Museum

Image: Portrait of George Fitzroy, Earl of Northumberland, as a boy in Roman costume, after Henri Gascar, last quarter of the seventeenth century Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Beinecke Library at Yale University preserves a manuscript journal written by an English traveler in Italy during 1681-2.  The anonymous author was a member of the retinue of George Fitzroy, Earl (later Duke) of Northumberland (1665-1716), an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England.  Traveling in Italy from November 1681 to June 1682, the group stopped at Turin, Milan, Florence, Bologna, Naples, and Rome.  In Padua the diarist then separated from the main company, which proceeded to Venice, while the author continued on to Avignon.

Only one page of the manuscript has been digitized so far, but luckily for enthusiasts of Piedmontese Baroque, it is the page describing the party’s arrival in Turin on New Year’s Eve 1681. After a general description of the city, the journal entry immediately focuses on the ducal palace and Guarino Guarini’s chapel of the Holy Shroud, then nearing completion.

Northumberland Turin 1681 BeineckeImage: Relation of my voiage into Italy with my Lord Northumberland, fol. 6r (Osborn b352)
Source: The James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Wee arrived at Turin on y.e last day of Decembre 1681. This city is well situated where the Doïre [i.e. Dora] a small river joins with the Po, w.ch there begins to bee navigable, for you find boats to carry you down to Venice. The buildings of the new city especialy look very stately. The town is furnisht with water by the Doïre w.ch they lett into y.e streets every night. Itt is surrounded with strong ramparts sett with young oak trees, that make a pleasant walk. The new pallace in y.e city is well built. You may see in itt a chappel all of black marble, built a purpose for y.e holy Sindon or winding sheet wherein they say our Saviour was wrapt up: a relick of high esteem the Effigie whereof is painted upon most of ye walls in Piemont. Itt is shewn in a publick place upon very extraordnary occasions, and then do resort to Turin a multitude of People, who are all bound to cast themselves upon their knees at y.e sight of itt. In this same pallace is y.e Royal Gallery full of pictures of severall good hands. There are many pieces of Titian as Christ’s whipping out of y.e temple the buyers and sellars. St Peters Denyal of his master &c …”

Here the single digitized page concludes.  Among other things, the journal entry reveals how popular images of the Shroud throughout the Savoy territories helped to prepare visitors for their experience at the reliquary chapel in the capital, heightening their anticipation, and how accounts of previous ostensions played a role in travelers’ experience of the city even when the Shroud was not on display during their stay.

A video (below) prepared by the city of Turin’s cultural portal documents many of these images of the Shroud, “painted upon most of y.e walls in Piemont.” For other examples, see this PDF, “Affreschi Sindone in Piemonte” (source).

The Model for Campertogno

Church of San Giacomo Maggiore

This wooden model for an unexecuted church at Campertogno in the Val Sesia of northeastern Piedmont is one of the lesser-known subjects in Guarini studies. While no documents explicitly connect the design with Guarino Guarini and the model is first mentioned eight years after his death, nonetheless it seems to be based on a design by or design features associated with the Theatine architect.

Since few photos of the model are available online, I am posting my own snapshots of it taken nearly twenty years ago. Photographed under difficult conditions in a cluttered room with poor lighting, they give a general idea of this curious object.

Images: Views of the model for San Giacomo Maggiore, Campertogno, preserved in the church in Campertogno (click to enlarge)
Source: Susan Klaiber / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Creative Commons License

The model for the parish church of San Giacomo Maggiore rises over an elongated hexagonal plan with two side chapels on each side. Intersecting ribbed arches springing from the corner and nave piers support an oval drum above the nave. This is then topped with a smaller oval drum with dome resting on an undulating cornice supported by two pairs of arches of unequal height. A raised presbytery on a rectangular plan is attached to the nave with a wide arched transitional space. A portico provides a sheltered entrance to the building, and numerous additional rooms over several stories at the rear would have probably served a wide range of community functions for the parish. The entire church rests on elaborate substructures, designed to tame the difficult site in a narrow rocky valley above the Sesia river.

A 1691 document records payment for transport of the model, which thus probably dates to this period eight years after Guarini’s death. The model measures around 1.3 meters in length and features carved, incised and painted details. Aspects of the design such as the intersecting vault ribs, stacked vaulting elements, double-shelled structure, and use of geometry bear such close connections to the Guarini’s work that the model must represent either a posthumous realization of the architect’s plans, or a project of Guarinian inspiration prepared by a well-informed member of his circle. Giuseppe Dardanello has suggested the master joiner Giovanni Battista Gilardi as the designer or creator of the model (Dardanello 1999). Gilardi originally came from Campertogno and worked in Turin at Guarini’s Palazzo Carignano in the 1690s.

Campertogno Chiesa Parrocchiale pub domThe church that was ultimately built on the same site recalls some features of the model and also retains the sixteenth-century bell tower. It was designed in consultation with Filippo Juvarra and constructed from 1719-35.

Image: San Giacomo Maggiore, Campertogno, entrance facade as executed, 1719-35 (bell tower upper left)
Source: Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Further Reading

Leonardo Benevolo, “La chiesa parrocchiale di Campertogno,” Palladio I (1951): 165-73.

Maria Anderegg-Tille, Die Schule Guarinis (Winterthur: P. G. Keller, 1962): 28-30.

Giuseppe Dardanello, Entry 550 in H. A. Millon, ed., The Triumph of the Baroque, Architecture in Europe 1600-1750, exhibition catalogue (Milan: Bompiani, 1999): 575-6.

Andrew Morrogh, “Guarino Guarini and Christopher Wren” in Maria Beltramini and Caroline Elam, eds., Some Degree of Happiness: studi di storia dell’architettura in onore di Howard Burns (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2010): 507-529.

Gianni Molino, Il modello della chiesa di Campertogno (PDF with illustrated essay by local historian summarizing the main points regarding the model).

In Valsesia, Campertogno, 1922 (m 815) Image: Postcard of Campertogno postmarked 8 June 1922
Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Unknown photographer / Fel_031867-RE / Public Domain

Shopping for Marble in Venice

A Court Agent From Turin Sources Materials for Guarini

A letter of 6 June 1676 from Fra Arcangelo di Salto in Venice to Francesco Guglielmo Carron, Marchese di San Tommaso, in Turin sheds light on the methods Guarino Guarini used to source unusual marbles for his commissions in the Savoy capital.  The relevant passage in the letter, published by Gaudenzio Claretta in 1873 and until now apparently overlooked by Guarini scholars, would seem to refer to a commission Guarini was preparing for the Marchese himself, although it is entirely possible that San Tommaso was coordinating the commission on behalf of another court patron.

The Carron di San Tommaso family served the Savoy court administrative bureaucracy for generations, most famously as Secretary of State or “primo segretario” for a series of dukes, duchesses, and kings. They were patrons of rich chapels in churches in Turin, notably in San Francesco da Paola and Guarini’s San Lorenzo. But they also had Guarini design an altar for a chapel in Buttigliera Alta outside Turin, their ancestral seat (Dardanello, 1988, p. 199 n. 178). To my knowledge this altar, documented in a payment for the altarpiece in 1681, has yet to be traced or reconstructed.

InternoChiesaSanLorenzoTorino2 (2)Detail of nave and chapels in Guarini’s San Lorenzo, Turin (1670-1680)
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Ste73ve (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The passage in the letter states:

“Ho fatto le dovute diligenze per le colonne ma non ne ritrovo delle desiderate dal R. M. D. Guarino e le più preziose e vaghe sono d’africano, che mettono diversi colori, cioè turchino, giallo, rosso, bianco e nero, delle quali avendone vedute due, parmi che in Torino ancora non ve ne sia delle simili. Se queste fossero di soddisfazione, costano cento ducati da lire tre e soldi due di moneta di Savoia l’una, e si darebbero fatte in tre mesi dal giorno dell’avviso.”

The agent thus unsuccessfully attempted to find specific columns requested by Guarini. He suggested an alternative in other columns of attractive precious marble known as “marmo africano,” “African” marble (which, however, in antiquity was quarried in present-day Turkey). The African marbles Fra Arcangelo saw in Venice were blue, yellow, red, black and white, and unlike anything in Turin at the time. He then specifies the price, in case the columns sound satisfactory, and says they would be ready three months after ordering.

The letter allows us to make a few conclusions. Guarini apparently knew exactly what kind of marble he wanted, and had perhaps seen it in Venice before. Indeed his travels in the Veneto in the early 1670s are well documented. Delegating marble acquisition to an agent made sense for Guarini, since he was tied up with multiple responsibilities in Turin: supervising construction at San Lorenzo and the Cappella della Sindone, preparing publications such as his Trattato di fortificatione (1676), and other duties as a Theatine priest. Further, the marble was needed for a project in or near Turin. San Lorenzo comes immediately to mind, with its rich embellishment in marble and precious stones. The timing of the marble acquisition, though, is somewhat puzzling for the San Lorenzo construction chronology. The eighteen large red marble columns surrounding the main vessel of the nave and framing the chapel openings and high altar had been put in place already in 1673. Other smaller columns within the chapels and on their altars seem to have been installed beginning only in 1678. Certainly with the three-month period from order to delivery, the architect may have been planning ahead for chapels to be constructed a year or two later.

The commission timeline for the Carron di San Tommaso chapel in San Lorenzo suggests this may well be the case. The family chapel (first on the left) was dedicated to the Virgin and Souls in Purgatory, with the altarpiece painted by Giovanni Peruzzini commissioned already in 1673, completed in late 1674, and sent to Turin in early 1675. Major construction on the dome of the entire church did not begin in earnest until 1678, and was completed in 1679, so interior decorative work could not proceed before 1678; documents indicate the architectural and sculptural portions of the Carron di San Tommaso chapel were executed by the Carlone family before 1679 (Dardanello, 1988, p. 197). Thus, components for the chapel were apparently being assembled several years before they could be installed in the church. Dardanello summarizes that, of all the chapels in San Lorenzo, that of the Carron di San Tommaso most closely reflects the local Turinese decorative aesthetic, and is most distant from Guarini’s personal style.

So did the Marchese and Guarini decide to order these columns of marmo africano? Probably not, at least not for the family chapel in San Lorenzo, which was built with columns of black Ligurian marble (nero portoro) framing the altar (Gomez Serito, 2006, p. 359). Naturally, the columns Fra Arcangelo viewed in Venice may have been intended for the chapel in Buttigliera Alta or an unidentified secular commission for the Carron di San Tommaso family or other court figures.

Images of the quarries in Arzo, Ticino, the source of the eighteen large red marble columns in Guarini’s San Lorenzo, Turin (photos 1937)
Photographs: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Photographer: Wehrli, Leo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Maurizio Gomez Serito has shown how the marbles used in San Lorenzo were sourced from many regions: Piedmont, Triveneto, Lombardy and Ticino, Tuscany and Liguria, Rome, and France. This variety was unusual for churches in Turin. Gomez Serito notes how the Piedmontese marbles in the altars tended to be used for framing and architectural components, while the more exotic stones were employed for the decorative elements (Gomez Serito, 2006). For most of the stones, particularly the Piedmontese ones, we know exactly where they were quarried. The most spectacular feature of the nave of San Lorenzo, the eighteen monolithic columns of red marmo brocatello donated by the Savoy dynasty, had been quarried in Arzo (Ticino).

Finally, the colored marble mentioned in Fra Arcangelo’s letter and its distribution through a market in Venice recalls Guarini’s high altar for the Theatine church of San Nicolò in Verona. The architectural portions of this altar seem to have been constructed between 1675 and the early 1680s, with some of the sculpture perhaps completed in the next decades. Although the letter published by Claretta clearly refers to a commission in Turin, we can well imagine Guarini or his agents returning to the supplier in Venice to select the rich materials for the Verona altar.
Verona altar collageGuarino Guarini, high altar of San Nicolò, Verona, after 1675, (left) photo in situ and (right) published project from Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin, 1686), plate 22.
Sources: (left) Viaggio Senza Vento, (right) Getty Research Library / Internet Archive

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Further Reading

Gaudenzio Claretta, “Sulle avventure di Luca Assarino e Gerolamo Brusoni,” Atti della R. Accademia delle scienze di Torino 8 (1872-3): 112-141, 303-343, 385-407, 512-571; here, 557.

Giuseppe Dardanello, “Cantieri di corte e imprese decorative a Torino,” in Giovanni Romano, ed., Figure del barocco in Piemonte (Turin: CRT, 1988): 163-204, 237-252.

Maurizio Gomez Serito, “I marmi di San Lorenzo,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 356-363.

Giuseppe Dardanello, “L’esperienza del colore e il gusto dei materiali: fantasie decorative per organi e altari,” in G. Dardanello and R. Tamborrino, eds., Guarini, Juvarra e Antonelli. Segni e simboli per Torino (Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2008): 209-217.

Villa Il Maggiordomo

As a Detroit-area native, ruin porn generally irritates me. I’ve seen too many voyeuristic photographs of the sad remains of the Michigan Central Station. Where were all the rubberneckers when these monuments still might have been saved, before the city fell victim to recreational arson and scrap metal theft?

Photographs of decaying buildings do have some documentary value, though, either as a final record before demolition or as a last-ditch wake-up call for preservation efforts. The seventeenth-century Villa Il Maggiordomo, in Gerbido (part of Grugliasco) on the outskirts of Turin, is a case in point.

Circle of Guarino Guarini, Villa il Maggiordomo, Gerbido (Grugliasco), late 1670s-early 1680s, various interior and exterior views.
Source: Flickr / Giampaolo Squarcina (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The villa seems to have been constructed at approximately the same time as Guarino Guarini’s Palazzo Carignano in Turin (begun 1679), which it closely resembles in some respects. The convex central pavilion in Gerbido recalls the similar volume in the courtyard of the Palazzo Carignano, and the decorative details of the two buildings are also related. The villa’s owner was Valeriano Napione, a member of the household staff of Emanuele Filiberto, Principe di Carignano, who had commissioned the Turinese palace from Guarino Guarini. Napione’s position was maggiordomo to the prince, hence the name of his suburban villa. The villa has traditionally been associated with Guarini because of its links to the Palazzo Carignano, in fact a drawing for some windows at the Villa il Maggiordomo is preserved among the drawings for the Palazzo Carignano in the Archivio di Stato, Turin. The drawing, however, is not an autograph sheet by Guarini, but rather seems to have been drafted by an assistant, perhaps Giovanni Francesco Baroncelli.

Palazzo Carignano courtyard

Guarino Guarini, Palazzo Carignano courtyard, Turin, 1679-1683.
Source: Flickr / Bernard Blanc (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

For years, no interior photographs of the Villa il Maggiordomo were available. Colleagues in Turin inevitably failed to receive permission to enter the villa for viewing and documentation. Exterior photographs typically showed a deteriorating structure shot with a telephoto lens through a wrought iron gate and thick underbrush on the overgrown grounds.

Several years ago, though, interior photographs of the villa began circulating online, following the trend for ruin porn. Apparently the villa was now entirely abandoned, so that photography enthusiasts (and others) could just enter with no permission necessary. The images are shocking, depicting a building neglected for decades, apparently near collapse. One photographer, Giampaolo Squarcina, kindly made his images available on Flickr with a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license, and I am therefore grateful to be able to post them here.

A Happy End?

In view of these disturbing images, a recent thesis (tesi di laurea) prepared at the Politecnico di Torino in 2014 offers encouraging news. The author, Elisa Bellan, reports on initial preservation work undertaken to consolidate the building remains and considerations regarding a definitive restoration (apparently still pending) of the Villa Il Maggiordomo. Indeed, the current Google Maps satellite view of the building shows the roof covered with a blue tarp, at least preventing any additional water damage. One can only hope that the work will continue and that the owners will cooperate with the preservation authorities to save this important monument of the Piedmontese Baroque.

And the Michigan Central Station in Detroit? It may also be on the road to restoration. This week, BBC News reported that new windows were being installed in the building. Perhaps we’ve seen the last of ruin porn from these structures. In these two cases, it seems ultimately to have been a positive force for change.

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further reading

For an extensive bibliography on the Villa Il Maggiordomo, consult the abstract page of the thesis by Elisa Bellan, Il progetto di restauro e risanamento conservativo della villa “Il maggiordomo” di Grugliasco : indagine storica e recupero dell’apparato decorativo, Rel. Tulliani, Jean Marc and Rava, Antonio. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea in architettura per il restauro e valorizzazione del patrimonio, 2014.

A 1984 article by Bellan’s co-advisor (available online) includes photos of the villa in a better state of preservation just a few decades ago:
Antonio Rava, “Ricerche ed interventi su alcune facciate dipinte in Piemonte,” Bollettino d’Arte, supplement no. 6, November 1984, pp. 89-106. (On Villa Il Maggiordomo, see pp. 95-96.)

Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Tour Material Online

EAHN 2014 Two-Day Post-Conference Tour Documentation

The European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting (Turin, Politecnico di Torino, 19-21 June 2014) offered a rich program of twenty-one conference tours, among these the two-day Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture.  This study tour (22-23 June) presented key monuments as seen through the historiographic lens of earlier scholarly exploration of Baroque Piedmont.

As a permanent resource for tour participants and others interested in the topic, a page in the Resources section of this website now archives supporting material from the tour as PDF and JPEG downloads. These downloads include the tour itinerary, a selection of maps, documentation for travels in the region by A. E. Brinckmann and Rudolf Wittkower, as well as image dossiers for the sites visited.

In addition, a Google Map documents the principal stations of the tour, and a separate page of selected links leads to further reliable, content-rich web resources on most of the sites.

Tour leaders:
Pino Dardanello, Susan Klaiber, Edoardo Piccoli

Tour organizers
Roberto Caterino, Susan Klaiber, Walter Leonardi, Edoardo Piccoli

Resource Pages
Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture
Links for Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

EAHN 2014 Turin Postscript

Piedmontese Baroque Roundtable in Open Access Proceedings

Juvarra sheet MMA 35_115v_CROPPEDThe proceedings of the European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting (held in Turin, 19-21 June 2014) have been published online by the Politecnico di Torino as an open access PDF. The publication contains all abstracts and most papers or discussion positions from the conference’s thirty-two sessions and roundtables, running to 1233 pages and 30 MB. The proceedings are licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license Creative Commons License.

All of the abstracts and five of the six discussion positions presented in my roundtable Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Studies Fifty Years On can be downloaded here in a more convenient excerpt from the proceedings. Though the texts do not capture the lively discussions they ignited at the roundtable and afterward, they do reproduce the pointed and sometimes provocative positions staked out by the panelists.

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Michela Rosso, editor, Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subjects, Methodologies and Frontiers. Papers from the Third EAHN International Meeting (Turin: Politecnico di Torino, 2014).

Image: Filippo Juvarra, Sheet with Architectural Drawing (verso), pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over graphite, 21 x 17.8 cm
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1935, 35.115

EAHN 2014 Program Booklet


European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting

Turin, 19-21 June 2014

The general program of keynotes, sessions, study tours and other events at the upcoming EAHN 2014 conference is now available as a PDF download. For full details of individual papers and tours, please consult the conference website.

See also this post on my roundtable Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Studies Fifty Years On.

Looking forward to seeing many colleagues in Turin!

Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Roundtable at EAHN 2014

Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Studies Fifty Years On
EAHN 2014, Turin, 20 June 2014

The European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting takes place in Turin from 19-21 June 2014, hosted by the Politecnico di Torino. The conference program offers thirty-two parallel sessions and roundtables, including the roundtable I have organized on the historiography of Piedmontese Baroque architecture. The conference’s three keynote speakers are Alina Payne, Hartmut Frank, and Fulvio Irace. A rich selection of tours rounds out the program, with a two-day post-conference tour Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture designed to complement my roundtable.

Consult the conference website for complete details of the entire program.

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Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Studies Fifty Years On
8.30-11.15: Friday, June 20
Roundtable Chair: Susan Klaiber, independent scholar, Switzerland

Architectural Exchanges Between Rome and Turin Before Guarini
Marisa Tabarrini
La Sapienza – Università di Roma, Italy

Guarino Guarini: the First ‘Baroque’ Architect
Marion Riggs
Independent scholar, Italy

The Multifaceted Uses of Guarini’s Architettura Civile in 1968
Martijn van Beek
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands

Idealism and Realism: Augusto Cavallari Murat
Elena Gianasso
Politecnico di Torino, Italy

A Regional Artistic Identity? Three Exhibitions in Comparison
Giuseppe Dardanello
Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy

Wittkower’s ‘Gothic’ Baroque: Piedmontese buildings as seen around 1960
Cornelia Jöchner
Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

View roundtable abstracts online (click on paper title for abstract) or as a PDF document.

A Temple of Virtue in Cuneo, 1668

Taking the Waters as Court Event in Seicento Piedmont

Duchess Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours took a summer holiday in 1668, leaving the city heat in Turin behind her and heading for the small spa town of Valdieri in a cool mountain valley in southern Piedmont.  The waters in Valdieri had been recommended to her by her doctors for their beneficial effects, particularly as she hoped to have a second child to join her frail son, the heir to the duchy, born in 1666.

Her journey to Valdieri, accompanied by her husband, the duke, proceeded in stages over the course of several days, and on the way, the small town of Savigliano prepared an elaborate entertainment for the duchess (the later Madama Reale) and her entourage on 1 July 1668.  This ephemeral festival was recorded in a lavish illustrated publication, now exceedingly rare, Emanuele Filiberto Panealbo’s Relatione della solenne entrata fatta nella città di Sauigliano… (Turin, 1668).  On the basis of Panealbo’s book and additional sources, several scholars have recounted the details of the Savigliano festival – most recently Francesca Filippi.  The rest of the duchess’s trip, however, has received less attention, and one might assume that the festivities in Savigliano were an isolated highlight of the excursion.  But an early eighteenth-century chronicle tells of a further stop on the journey, in the provincial town of Cuneo, where another festival was staged for the court.

Savigliano 1668The court entourage entering Savigliano on 1 July 1668
Source: E. F. Panealbo, Relatione della solenne entrata… (Turin: Bartolomeo Zavatta, 1668) | Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Firenze

No visiual evidence survives for the Cuneo festival, but the chronicle Secoli della città di Cuneo gives a fairly thorough description of the ephemeral apparatus constructed, and clearly attributes its design to Guarino Guarini. The chronicle relates that upon learning of the duchess’s intention to visit, the city council immediately began to plan the most dignified reception possible for her:

“Among the other architects…they asked, one was Padre Guarino, Theatine, who had a reputation as an excellent man for designs and machines, who did not fail to serve the city on this occasion: embellishing the square with a Temple of Virtue, which made a magnificent appearance, since it was a construction of graceful and noble invention, which then, filled with fireworks, was to burn in the presence of the Madama Reale.  Orders were given to the militias to parade and to the bombers to set up the artillery.

When the day of the twelfth of July finally arrived, on which they were to receive the Madama Reale, the whole was prepared wtih much expediency, the militias parading inside and outside the city in good order, the most illustrious nobility of the city riding on horseback to meet the sovereign duchess, accompanying her to the city gate, where, once arrived, she received the keys to the city amongst joyous bursts of cannons, and then took to her lodgings in the governor’s palace.  In the evening, the entire city was illuminated, and fireworks were set off in the presence of Her Royal Highness, the court, and a great number of people, some of whom had come from far away to enjoy such noble entertainments.”

Early modern Cuneo in a map of 1753. The governor’s palace where the duchess stayed is no. 1, at the lower right
Source: gallica.bnf.fr | Bibliothèque nationale de France

Since the pace of the duchess’s travel and the length of her stay in Valdieri are uncertain, it is not entirely clear if the stop in Cuneo on 12 July 1668 occurred on the way to or from the spa. Nor does the chronicle expressly mention whether or not the duke was also present – suggesting he did not accompany his wife to Cuneo. The city of Cuneo probably hoped to repeat the success of a previous ephemeral event it had organized in honor of members of the Savoy dynasty twenty-five years earlier: a triumphal entry of the first Madama Reale, Cristina, and her daughter Ludovica. The mother- and sister-in-law, respectively, of Maria Giovanna Battista, they had celebrated Ludovica’s marriage to her uncle Maurizio of Savoy, ending the dynastic civil war. The 1643 triumphal entry had been recorded in a handsome engraving. But how might the 1668 Temple of Virtue have looked, and what was its place in Guarini’s oeuvre?

festival piazza castello GALLICAAmedeo di Castellamonte, Temple of Virtues, Piazza Castello, Turin, 11 April 1678 (later engraving signed with initials P.B.F., c. 1680). Perhaps Guarini’s 1668 Temple of Virtue in Cuneo looked something like this – but more Guarinian.
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France. The BNF catalogue record (mis?)identifies the engraving as depicting a later marriage celebration.

The attribution of the Cuneo Temple of Virtue to the Theatine, less than two years after his arrival in Turin from Paris, furnishes a new detail about his early work for the Savoy dynasty. Like most architects connected with Baroque courts, Guarini designed ephemeral structures and other festival apparatuses throughout his career. Specific events are documented in Modena, Messina, and Turin ranging from religious and court festivals to a theatrical production. Unfortunately, as is often the case, we have no visual evidence for any of these designs.

The 1668 festival in Cuneo is perhaps the first recorded use of a “Temple of Virtue” for the Madama Reale, but the iconography seems to have suited her, since ten years later a “Temple of Virtues” formed the centerpiece of her first public festival in Turin as regent, celebrated after completing the period of mourning for her late husband Carlo Emanuele II (died 1675). The occasion was her birthday, on 11 April 1678, and the ephemeral structures were recorded in an engraving (shown above in a later but nearly identical reissued version). Although the architect for the 1678 apparatus was Amedeo di Castellamonte rather than Guarini, the image gives us some idea of what was understood by an ephemeral Temple of Virtue in Baroque Piedmont. Related iconography was used in the gardens at Venaria Reale during the 1670s.

The chronicle passage describing Guarini’s temporary structure in Cuneo serves as a reminder to look beyond the visually appealing drawings and engravings of such festivals to consider the even more abundant textual evidence for early modern court ephemera.

Stations of Maria Giovanna Battista’s itinerary, summer 1668

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Sources and further reading:

Emanuele Filiberto Panealbo, Relatione della solenne entrata fatta nella città di Sauigliano dalle regali altezze Carlo Emanuel II et Maria Giouanna Battista di Nemours, il primo di luglio 1668 (Turin: Per Bartolomeo Zavatta, 1668).

Francesco Domenico Barisano, La piscina salutare in Piemonte ne’ bagni di Valdieri (Turin: Per B. Zapatta, 1674): 15.

Teofilo Partenio, Secoli della città di Cuneo (Mondovì: Vincenzo & Gio. Francesco Rossi, 1710): 240.

Mercedes Viale Ferrero, catalogue entries 89, 96 in Diana trionfatrice: arte di corte nel Piemonte del Seicento, ed. Michela di Macco and Giovanni Romano (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 1989): 84-85, 90.

Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, “Venaria Reale: Ambition and Imitation in a Seventeenth-Century Villa,” Fountains, Statues, and Flowers: Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1994): 143-217, here 183-4.

Francesca Filippi, “Archi trionfali nel Piemonte meridionale, 1560-1668,” in G. Romano, G. Spione, eds., Una gloriosa sfida: opere d’arte a Fossano, Saluzzo, Savigliano, 1550-1750 (Caraglio: Edizione Marcovaldo, 2004): 154-180.

Luciana Manzo and Fulvio Peirone, Pubbliche allegrezze: feste e potere a Torino dal Cinquecento all’Ottocento (Turin: Archivio storico della città di Torino, 2007).

Valdieri. Bains. Savoie: dessin / Hubert Clerget, c. 1800
Source: gallica.bnf.fr

Piedmontese Baroque Architecture Studies Fifty Years On

Roundtable at the European Architectural History Network Third International Meeting, Turin, 19- 21 June 2014

Update May 2014:

View the roundtable program and abstracts here.

Call for Papers

The current decade marks the fiftieth anniversary of the great flowering of studies on Piedmontese Baroque architecture during the 1960s. Proceeding from pioneering works of the 1950s such as Rudolf Wittkower’s chapter “Architecture in Piedmont” in his Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750 (1958), or Paolo Portoghesi’s series of articles and brief monograph on Guarini (1956), international and local scholars like Henry Millon, Werner Oechslin, Mario Passanti, and Nino Carboneri produced an impressive array of publications on the period. Some of the milestones of this scholarly output include the architecture section of the exhibition Mostra del Barocco Piemontese (1963), Andreina Griseri’s Metamorfosi del Barocco (1967), and Richard Pommer’s Eighteenth-Century Architecture in Piedmont (1967). This scholarship culminated in major international conferences on Guarini (1968) and Vittone (1970), as well as the initiation of the Corpus Juvarrianum in 1979.

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This roundtable aims to commemorate the golden age of studies on Piedmontese Baroque architecture through a critical assessment of the heritage of the 1960s. Have Griseri’s and Pommer’s “challenging” (Wittkower) concepts proven robust? Does a traditional geographic-stylistic designation remain fruitful for investigating a region whose two major architects built throughout Europe and whose ruling dynasty entered supraregional marriage alliances? Do recent interdisciplinary methodologies – drawing from fields like geography, sociology, or history of science – reframe the roles of agents like civic authorities, construction workers, or military engineers? Has new material evidence altered long-held assumptions?

Discussion positions may directly address historiography or methodology of the 1960s, or present alternative approaches in the form of case studies or new research projects that critically engage with this historic body of scholarship on Piedmontese Baroque architecture, urbanism, and landscape.

The Mostra del Barocco Piemontese attracted an international audience (newsreel of August 1963).
Source: Cinecittà Luce / Archivio Storico Luce / YouTube

At its previous conferences, the EAHN did not highlight the architecture of the host region in dedicated panels. Turin, however, arguably presents an ideal venue for an international roundtable with regional focus: then as now, Piedmont is a major European crossroad for cultural influences from the Italian peninsula, France and Spain, northern Europe, and the former Hapsburg empire. Piedmontese Baroque architecture continues to occupy both local and international scholars, as demonstrated by the recent series of monographic conferences in Turin on architects like Alfieri, Garove, and Juvarra organized by the Bibliotheca Hertziana together with the Venaria Reale consortium. Breaking out of these monographic constraints, this roundtable will provide an opportunity to reflect on where the field has been during the past half century, as well as where it might go in the next fifty years.

Deadline for proposals: 30 September 2013

Please submit proposals for ten-minute discussion positions with CV through the submissions portal on the EAHN 2014 conference website between 15 April and 30 September 2013.

Roundtable chair: Susan Klaiber

Download this call for papers in PDF format.

For complete details on EAHN 2014, visit the conference website.