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Auction Description for Mallams: Additional Lot
Auction Description:
Additional Lot
Viewing Notes:
6th June 9am to 7pm. 7th June 9am to 5pm. Morning of sale.
Sale Notes:
Please note this is an additional lot for sale already processed.

Additional Lot

(1 Lot)

by Mallams

1 lot with images

June 8, 2007

Bocardo House

St Michael's Street

Oxford, OX1 2EB United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)1865 241358

Fax: +44 (0)1865 725483




Estimated Price: Log in or create account to view price data

Description: FRAGMENT OF A SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN TRANSLATION OF VITRUVIUS. The lot comprises eight sheets of paper of varying sizes containing fragments of an illustrated Italian translation of Vitruvius' Ten Books on Architecture. Both the drawings and the writings are in the same brown ink, and appear to be by a single hand, mid sixteenth-century in character. Part of a watermark on Fragment 2 appears to be an anchor in a circle with a six-pointed star, a very common type in Italy throughout the sixteenth century. There is no other watermark evidence. Shreds of paper and glue stains towards the corners and edges of several fragments (such as 1r and 8v) indicate that after cutting down they were laid down in an album. Frag. 1 appears to retain the full width of the original page (c. 275 mm), while the height can be estimated from frag. 6 and frag. 7 to be about 400 mm (see below). Vitruvius' Ten Books, written c. 30-20 B.C. is the only substantive classical text on architecture, and became of critical importance in the Italian Renaissance when architects strove to revive architecture all'antica. This was not an easy task since Vitruvius looked to Greece for many of his exemplars and used many Greek architectural terms, which were not always applicable when understanding Roman ruins, as became apparent with the publication of the first illustrated edition by Fra Giovanni Giocondo of Verona in 1511. Giocondo's humanist scholarship is impeccable and his interpretation of Vitruvius' temple types follows the text to the letter, and yet the result for the in antis temple is nothing like the reality we know from the physical evidence. Already by 1520, the manuscript translation, prepared by the humanist Fabio Calvo for Raphael, included a plan correctly interpreting the in antis temple, and others appear in the drawings by Giovanni Battista da Sangallo added to a 1486 first edition of Vitruvis around 1530. Had the great project outlined in the famous letter of 1542 by Agostino de'Landi for a Vitruvian Academy to prepare a multi-volume critical edition, translation and commentary of the Ten Books been realised, Giocondo's errors may have been exposed sooner. However, the fact that his interpretations were followed in the great Italian translation and commentary of Daniele Barbaro of 1556, with illustrations by Andrea Palladio, ensured that they became virtually canonical until the eighteenth century. The present fragments all belong to the first three books of Vitruvius, and the drawings of the in antis temple are similar to those in Giocondo and Barbaro, although it is not clear if our fragments pre- or post-date the latter. That the artist was translating from the Giocondo edition or one of its successors is confirmed by the tree labeled 'suera' on frag. 5r, since it is the cork oak or quercus suber, which does not occur in printed editions earlier than 1511. Of particular interest are the views of Alexandria and Athens on frags 2v and 4v, both clearly modelled on ancient Rome, with buildings like the Colosseum and the Pantheon figuring in each. What at first sight appears to be the Castel S. Angelo on frag. 2v is probably intended to represent the Pharos at the harbour of Alexandria. The many apparent obelisks in the surrounding countryside are really pyramids. The artist certainly seems to have had direct knowledge of Rome, judging from the views of the in antis and prostyle temples in frags 6r and 7r. Vitruvius gives as his exemplar of a prostyle temple one dedicated to Jupiter and Faunus on the Tiber Island. Our artist labels the in antis 'Fauno' and the prostyle 'Giove' and among the buildings in the background are recognizable the two bridges to the island, the Ponte Cestio and the Ponte Fabricio. Of the seven temple types described in Vitruvius Bk. 2, chap. 3, four are represented here. Because the text for the prostyle temple appears on frag. 6r and the drawings on frag. 7r, while the drawings and text of the peripteral temple extend across frags 6v and 7v, we can be confident that the fragments originally formed part of the same folio. Equally, the absence of drawings of the amphiprostyle and pseudodipteral temples (for which the texts are at the bottom of frags 7r and 7v respectively) allows us to infer that the lower part of the folio is missing, while the last temple type, the hypaethral, would probably have been below the present frag. 8r. One feature of the style of architectural representation to which attention should be drawn is the use of perspective in the plans on frag. 6r and frag. 8v. Baldassare Peruzzi (who is said to have begun a commentary on Vitruvius himself) had experimented with perspectival plans in his project drawings for New St Peter's and his pupil, Sebastiano Serlio, gives instructions for constructing them in his Second Book: On Perspective, published in 1545. Another associate of Peruzzi, Antonio Labacco, makes use of them in his Libro appartenente all'architettura of 1552, before orthogonal plans became normative. It is possible, therefore that the artist may belong to the circle of Peruzzi, although there is nothing to prove a direct connection. We are grateful to Ian Campbell, Professor of Architectural History and Theory, Edinburgh College of Art for the research and catalogue entry of the above lot. Fragment 1 Recto: 148 x 278 (max.) mm. Chapter heading and text translating Vitruvius 1.4.1-2 Fragment 1 Verso. Drawings of fortifications with round and square towers, illustrating Vitruvius 1.5.2 Fragment 2 Recto: 210 x 144 (max.) mm. Text probably translating Vitruvius 1.7.1 and empty frame to contain a drawing. Fragment 2 Verso. View of Alexandria, illustrating Vitruvius, preface to book 2. Fragment 3 Recto: 156 x 140 mm: Drawing of the Origin of Building, illustrating Vitruvius 2.1.1-2. Fragment 3 Verso. Blank Fragment 4 Recto: 188 x c. 140 mm. Drawing of primitive huts, illustrating Vitruvius 2.1.3-4 Fragment 4 Verso. View and plan of mud hut on the Areopagus with Athens in the background, illustrating Vitruvius 2.1.5 Fragment 5 Recto: 145 x 261 mm. Drawings of eight varieties of trees, illustrating Vitruvius 2.9.6-10 Fragment 5 Verso. View of the Siege of Larignum, illustrating Vitruvius 2.9.15-16. Fragment 6 Recto: 153 x 262 mm. Plan and three-quarters view of the in antis 'Temple of Faunus' on the Tiber Island, illustrating Vitruvius 3.2.1. Text translating Vitruvius 3.2.2-3 (on in antis and prostyle temples). Fragment 6 Verso. Perspectival plan of peripteral temple, illustrating Vitruvius 3.2.5. Text translating Vitruvius 3.2.5. Fragment 7 Recto: 145 x 260 mm. Plan and three-quarters view of the prostyle 'Temple of Jove' on the Tiber Island, illustrating Vitruvius 3.2.2. Text translating 3.2.4 (the amphiprostyle temple type). Fragment 7 Verso. Three-quarters view of peripteral Temple of Honour and Virtue, Rome. Text translating Vitruvius 3.2.6 (the pseudodipteral temple type). Fragment 8 Recto: 245 x 247mm. Perspectival elevation of thedipteral temple type. Lines ruled for text below. Fragment 8 Verso. Perspectival plan and elevation of a portico, probably illustrating Vitruvius 3.3 on the araeostyle intercolumniation.

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