Upcoming Conference: Spaces of Early Modern Architectural Production

Elizabeth Merrill has organized the upcoming conference Spaces of Early Modern Architectural Production at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. The conference forms part of a working group on the topic that began with a video conference last fall, and will continue after the conference with a members-only workshop.

I am looking forward to participating with my talk “Network Structures: Exploring the Architectural Spaces of the Theatine Archipelago,” and hearing the other talks with interdisciplinary perspectives at the intersection of history of architecture and history of science.

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From the conference announcement:

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Main Conference Hall,
Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Registration deadline: May 14, 2018

The Spaces of Early Modern Architectural Production


Space is essential to architecture. In contrast to painting and sculpture, architecture
is fundamentally defined as a spatial construct, taking form not in two dimensions
or three, but four. Architecture – as a direct product of its spatial dimension – is also
fundamentally experiential and social. The theoretical conception of space – the
understanding of space as a social product – provides a systematic, yet expandable
language for examining the production of architecture – the processes, materials,
structures, knowledge systems and people integral in the making of architecture.
To the extent that the concept of space facilitates such avenues of investigation,
this conference pursues these insights in regards to architecture of early modern

Conference Program

9:00 – 9:30 Welcome & Registration

9:30 – 9:45 Introduction

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn (MPIWG)
Director’s Welcome

Elizabeth Merrill (MPIWG)
Introduction to the Conference

9:45 – 11:15 Panel I

Noam Andrews (New York University)
Towards an Architectonics of Outer Space

Ludovica Galeazzo (Duke University)
“Conquest” and Construction of an Urban Space: the Insula dei Gesuiti in Venice in the Early Modern Period

Susan Klaiber (Winterthur, Switzerland)
Network Structures: Exploring the Architectural Spaces of the Theatine Archipelago

11:15 – 11:30 Coffee

11:30 – 13:00 Panel II

Wolfgang Lefèvre (MPIWG)
Architecture on Paper: Development and Functions of Architectural Drawings in the Renaissance

Sebastian Fitzner and Paul Brakmann (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Spaces of architectural knowledge: The model collection and “Kunstkammer” of Johannes Faulhaber (1580-1635) in Ulm

Elizabeth Merrill (MPIWG)
Model Book Production & Architectural Education in Fifteenth-Century Siena

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 16:00 Panel III

Federico Bellini (Università degli Studi di Camerino)
Architecture for Music: sonorous spaces and furnishings in sacred buildings of the Roman Renaissance and Baroque

Stefan Holzer (ETH Zürich) and Nicoletta Marconi (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
Construction and restoration scaffoldings development between 17th and 19th Century in Europe: case studies in Italy, France and Germany, and their interrelationships

Merlijn Hurx (Universiteit Utrecht)
“The most expert in Europe”: knowledge production and innovation in specialised
building technologies in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee

16:30 – 17:30 Panel IV

Anthony Gerbino (University of Manchester)
Architectural Knowledge as Spatial Practice: Geometrical Survey in Sixteenth-Century France

Edward Triplett (Duke University)
Drawing Borders with Castles and Maps – Making Sense of the 16th Century Livro das Fortalezas

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Please RSVP to emerrill@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de by 14 May 2018

Image above from my talk: Frontispiece to Girolamo Vitale, Lexicon Mathematicum, 2nd ed. (Rome: Vannacci, 1690).
Source: Internet Archive / public domain

Perceptions of Architecture in Early Modern Europe

Conference at Durham University, 5 November 2016

ledoux-eyeKimberley Skelton has organized a fascinating conference on architecture and the early modern viewer with ten papers to be presented on topics ranging across Europe from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Maurice Howard will deliver the keynote address, speaking on “Buildings Observed in Early Modern England.” I am delighted to be participating with my talk entitled “Inside Out: Situating the Theatine Interior.” It examines a mid-eighteenth-century guidebook to the houses of the Theatine order written specifically for the members of the order.

The complete conference program may be consulted on the website of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University, or as a PDF download with the registration form. The registration deadline is 26 October 2016.

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From the conference description:

Across discourses and media, early modern Europeans encountered advice about and models for interacting with the built environment around them. Architects scattered brief instructions for designing a viewer’s experience throughout their treatises, poets narrated imagined tours of house and estate, and artists who composed prints and paintings of buildings located viewers at particular vantage points. Simultaneously, philosophers and scientists debated human perception of the physical world at large – for example, explanation first by Aristotelian Scholastics and then mechanistic philosophers of how particle vibrations acted upon the human senses to create mental images of objects. Such architectural, philosophical, and scientific discussions had their echoes in self-reflective viewing of buildings by travellers who described in their journals the buildings that they visited.

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From my presentation: Georg Balthasar Probst, Vüe du Pont Neuf, vers le pont Royal, a Paris, 1740.
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Geometrical Objects


From my chapter: Andrea Pozzo, Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper for Painters and Architects, etc., (London: J. Senes, R. Gosling, W. Innys, J. Osborn and T. Longman, 1707, reprint New York: Dover, 1989), plate 17, perspective study of Doric base.
Source: Susan Klaiber / public domain

Proceedings of 2007 Oxford Conference

What began as a small session at the Society of Architectural Historians 2005 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, and then developed into a very collegial two-day conference in Oxford in 2007, has now been published by Springer in both hardcover and e-book formats. My contribution, the chapter “Architecture and Mathematics in Early Modern Religious Orders,” may be previewed at Springer Link.

From the volume’s cover blurb:
Geo Objects coverThis volume explores the mathematical character of architectural practice in diverse pre- and early modern contexts. It takes an explicitly interdisciplinary approach, which unites scholarship in early modern architecture with recent work in the history of science, in particular, on the role of practice in the scientific revolution. As a contribution to architectural history, the volume contextualizes design and construction in terms of contemporary mathematical knowledge, attendant forms of mathematical practice, and relevant social distinctions between the mathematical professions. As a contribution to the history of science, the volume presents a series of micro-historical studies that highlight issues of process, materiality, and knowledge production in specific, situated, practical contexts. Our approach sees the designer’s studio, the stone-yard, the drawing floor, and construction site not merely as places where the architectural object takes shape, but where mathematical knowledge itself is deployed, exchanged, and amplified among various participants in the building process.​

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Anthony Gerbino, editor, Geometrical Objects: Architecture and the Mathematical Sciences 1400-1800, Archimedes 38, (Cham: Springer, 2014).


• Introduction Anthony Gerbino


• Proportion and Continuous Variation in Vitruvius’s De Architectura Bernard Cache

Mathematics and Material Culture in Italian Renaissance Architecture

• The Palazzo del Podestà in Bologna: Precision and Tolerance in a Building all’Antica Francesco Benelli

• Practical Mathematics in the Drawings of Baldassarre Peruzzi and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger Ann C. Huppert

• Geometric Survey and Urban Design: A Project for the Rome of Paul IV (1555–1559) David Friedman

The Baroque Institutional Context

• Architecture and Mathematics in Early Modern Religious Orders Susan Klaiber

• The Master of Painted Architecture: Andrea Pozzo, S. J. and His Treatise on Perspective Kirsti Andersen

Narratives for the Birth of Structural Mechanics

• Geometry, Mechanics, and Analysis in Architecture Jacques Heyman

• Epistemological Obstacles to the Analysis of Structures: Giovanni Bottari’s Aversion to a Mathematical Assessment of Saint-Peter’s Dome (1743) Pascal Dubourg Glatigny

• A Scientific Concept of Beauty in Architecture: Vitruvius Meets Descartes, Galileo, and Newton Filippo Camerota

Architecture and Mathematical Practice in the Enlightenment

• Breathing Room: Calculating an Architecture of Air Jeanne Kisacky

• James “Athenian” Stuart and the Geometry of Setting Out David Yeomans, Jason M. Kelly, Frank Salmon

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The Archimedes Series

Archimedes has three fundamental goals: to further the integration of the histories of science and technology with one another; to investigate the technical, social and practical histories of specific developments in science and technology; and finally, where possible and desirable, to bring the histories of science and technology into closer contact with the philosophy of science. …Its subjects include any of the sciences, ranging from biology through physics, all aspects of technology, broadly construed, as well as historically-engaged philosophy of science or technology. Taken as a whole, Archimedes will be of interest to historians, philosophers, and scientists, as well as to those in business and industry who seek to understand how science and industry have come to be so strongly linked.
Source: Springer

Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni: Two Panels at AAIS 2014, Zurich

Italian Art Society sponsored sessions

An enthusiastic response to the call for papers yielded two panels on “Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni: Swiss-Italian Architects and Craftsmen in Early Modern Europe” at the upcoming American Association for Italian Studies 2014 conference in Zurich. The first panel focuses on architects, while the second turns its attention to craftsmen. As befits the international topic, the eight speakers represent five different countries, and their six papers treat geographies from Rome and Piedmont all the way to Bohemia, Lithuania, and the British Isles.

The two panels have been scheduled back-to-back on Friday afternoon, 23 May 2014, in the main building of the Universität Zürich.

Special thanks to the Italian Art Society for sponsoring the panels, and to Nadja Horsch for agreeing to moderate the “Craftsmen” segment.

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Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni: Swiss-Italian Architects and Craftsmen in Early Modern Europe I: Architects
Friday, 23 May 2014, 15:30-16:45, Room KO2-F-173
Moderator: Susan Klaiber

Domenico Fontana’s Trasportatione dell´obelisco vaticano – the prototype of a new genre of architectural literature
Nadja Horsch, Universität Leipzig

Imported versus local tradition: the example of Bohemia
Madleine Skarda, Universität Zürich

Un sodalizio “ticinese” nella Roma del Settecento: i rapporti di committenza tra Livio Odescalchi e Carlo Buratti
Maria Gabriella Pezone, Seconda Università di Napoli

Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni: Swiss-Italian Architects and Craftsmen in Early Modern Europe II: Craftsmen
Friday, 23 May 2014, 17:00-18:15, Room KO2-F-173
Moderator: Nadja Horsch

Maestri ticinesi nel cantiere della reggia di Venaria Reale (1660-1713). Competenze professionali, mestieri, organizzazione del cantiere
Mauro Volpiano, Politecnico di Torino

From Ticino to Lithuania: materials and techniques of stucco decoration
Giovanni Cavallo, Giacinta Jean, Stefania Luppichini, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)

Building on Beard: maestri ticinesi in eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland
Christine Casey, Trinity College, Dublin

Organizer of both panels: Susan Klaiber

View panel abstracts online or as a Word document.

Vitruvius in the Early Modern Era

Panel at CAA 2014, Chicago, 14 February 2014

mvitrvviipollion00vitr_0005Victor Deupi and Richard John have organized a broad-ranging session on reception of Vitruvius during the early modern era for the College Art Association’s 102nd annual conference in Chicago. My contribution to the session, Vitruvius and Pious Learning, examines reception of the De Architectura in early modern religious orders. I am extremely grateful to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the College Art Association for a travel grant that subsidizes my attendance at the conference and participation in the Vitruvius panel.

Aspects of Vitruvius’s Reception: New Research in Architectural Practice and Theory in the Early Modern World

Time: 2:30 PM—5:00 PM
Location: Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor, Astoria Room

Chairs: Victor Luis Deupi, New York Institute of Technology; Richard John, University of Miami

Translating Vitruvius in the Quattrocento: Ancient Theory or Contemporary Practice?
Angeliki Pollali, DEREE-The American College of Greece

Sundials and Water Organs: The Vitruvian Tradition in Italian Gardens
Natsumi Nonaka, University of Texas at Austin

Vitruvius and Pious Learning
Susan Klaiber, Winterthur, Switzerland

Vitruvius in Early Modern England: The Case of the Royal Society, 1660–1695
Matthew Walker, University of Oxford

James Gibbs’s Rules for Drawing (1732) and Vitruvius’s Method for the Ionic Order
Richard John, University of Miami

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Kircher Vitruvian TheaterFrom my presentation: Athanasius Kircher, reconstruction of Vitruvian theater (De Architectura, Book V), Phonurgia Nova (Kempten: Rudolph Dreherr, 1673): 74.
Source: Google Books / Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Image above left: M. Vitrvvii Pollionis De architectura libri decem / cvm commentariis Danielis Barbari… (Venetiis : Apud Franciscum Franciscium Senensem, & Ioan. Crugher Germanum, 1567).
Source: Getty Research Library / Internet Archive

When Priests Built Their Own Churches

Early Modern Priest-Architects in Sacred Architecture

Sacred Architecture journal has released its volume 24 (2013) for open-access consultation on its website. The issue includes my essay “Architecture as a Form of Erudition: Early Modern Priest-Architects.” The article furnishes an overview of some of the priests and other religious active in architecture, c. 1550 – 1750, and situates their work within the institutional culture of the religious orders.

Grimaldi SantIgnazio British MuseumGiovanni Francesco Grimaldi, View of Orazio Grassi’s Sant’Ignazio, Rome, under construction, black chalk, mid-seventeenth century.
Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum

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From the journal’s masthead:

Sacred Architecture journal, a publication of the Institute for Sacred Architecture, is dedicated to a renewal of beauty in contemporary church design. Through scholarly articles on architectural history, principles of design, and contemporary buildings, the journal seeks to inspire and inform.

Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni

Update March 2014: Program for AAIS 2014 panels now available here.

Call for Papers: Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni:
Swiss-Italian Architects and Craftsmen in Early Modern Europe

Italian Art Society Sponsored Session at the American Association for Italian Studies 2014 Annual Conference, Zurich, 23-25 May 2014

The Italian-speaking regions of early modern Switzerland exported significant expertise in the building trades throughout Europe. These émigré architects, builders, and craftsmen such as stuccatori worked for courts, monasteries, and other patrons in present-day Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and elsewhere. While often well-studied by scholars in both Switzerland and the respective regions of migration, international awareness of such careers generally remains low, with notable exceptions such as Francesco Borromini. Taken collectively, though, Swiss-Italian architects and craftsmen played important roles as agents of cultural transfer with their itinerant careers in early modern Europe.

These figures include Domenico Fontana, Carlo Maderno, and Carlo Fontana in Rome; Enrico Zuccalli and Giovanni Antonio Viscardi in Bavaria; and Giovanni Battista Quadro in Poland. The scholarly literature on such men is as rich yet dispersed as the architectural culture they embody. Representative publications include, in Italian, the exhibition catalogue Il giovane Borromini (1999), and books by Tommaso Manfredi (2008) and Marcello Fagiolo (ed., 2008); works in German by Sabine Heym (1984), Max Pfister (1991), and Michael Kühlenthal (ed., 1997); or several publications in Polish and Italian by Mariusz Karpowicz. Many of these studies are only available regionally.

This session aims to break down these geographic and linguistic barriers and move toward a comprehensive view of the work of the “maestri ticinesi” and “magistri grigioni” with a comparative transnational approach. The session welcomes papers on any aspect of Swiss-Italian involvement in the building trades anywhere in Europe, c. 1400-1800. Preference will be given to papers highlighting ties of workers (dynasties, networks), designs, techniques, or materials to Switzerland.

Panel chair: Susan Klaiber

Deadline for proposals: 5 December 2013

Please send a 300-word proposal and a short CV to Susan Klaiber (sklaiber [at] bluewin [dot] ch)

Download this call for papers in PDF format.

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

To learn more about the Italian Art Society, visit the IAS website.

Please note: Paper presenters must be members of the American Association for Italian Studies when they register for the conference. Italian Art Society membership is NOT necessary.

Review of Public Buildings in Early Modern Europe in JSAH

My review of K. A. Ottenheym, K. De Jonge, and M. Chatenet, eds., Public Buildings in Early Modern Europe (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010) has been published in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 71:4 (December 2012): 565-567. The book collects thirty papers from two conferences held in Utrecht in 2006 and 2008, examining buildings for government, justice, trade, and education, as well as hospitals. The essays focus primarily on the Low Countries, France, and the German-speaking regions between 1400 and 1800.

Antwerp 1914 gallicaView of Antwerp, 1914. The city and its town hall (left) feature in several of the volume’s essays.
Photograph: gallica.bnf.fr / Agence Rol