Sebastiano Serlio. Frontispiece of Book V of the Architettura, published 1547.
Roma Quanta Fuit, Ipsa Ruina Docet*
The most important foundation of classicism is a passionate involvement with the idea of Rome, city and civilization, as well as with that culture's physical remains. Long before the Renaissance, artists had imitated ancient Roman styles and writers had worked in Roman modes. Throughout the Middle Ages Rome was also a political vision for Kings and Emperor, people and Papacy, and the city itself had become the focus of imperial and ecclesiastical power—caput fidei et caput orbis—at least by the time of Charlemagne. This meant that antique art was imitated for much more complex reasons than mere aesthetic appreciation, during both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
This chapter studies the importance of the idea of Rome during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the way in which her remains were used during the same periods. An outline is given of the great outburst of scholarly activity in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the chapter ends with an account of the differing ways in which the antiquities were of use to three sometimes conflicting groups: artists, residents and architects.
The idea of Rome in the Middle Ages128
Although Rome had lost her power with the move of the capital of the Empire to Constantinople in AD 330, and the subsequent shift
of European power to Gaul, the city continued to enshrine within its monuments and traditions a guarantee of influence and renovation to Emperor, Pope and Roman people.124'140 Throughout late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, rulers maintained an attachment to Rome that was mainly political: their connections with the city helped to legitimize their own power. Its physical decline did not prevent the idea of the city and all it stood for remaining alive.137 The epithet 'new Rome' or 'second Rome' was applied to other centres which, because of their political power or cultural development, merited such a comparison. The most important of these was Constantinople, followed in the West by Aix-la-Chapelle, Trier (Treves) and Milan.130'141
Even cities with a more tenuous connection with Rome nevertheless built the prestige of Rome into the mythology of their past. Florence, according to a thirteenth-century chronicle, was built after the model of Rome; one of several other theories states that it was founded by Julius Caesar himself.146 The Cathedral Baptistery, similar in shape to a Roman temple, transformed Florence in the eyes of her proud inhabitants into an important Roman settlement;138'139 while in thirteenth-century Venice, artists imitated Early Christian art in order to perpetuate a supposed continuity between Roman Empire and Venetian Dogate.127 The Renaissance period did not, therefore, create anew an interest in ancient Rome, but rather extended and enriched old traditions by the application of historical techniques which we shall presently review.144
Long before the supposed visit of Brunel-leschi and Donatello to Rome, which Vasari places (perhaps symbolically) in 1401, the
ruins of Rome exercised a fascination over Europe.163 The Barbarian Emperors preserved and sometimes restored the monuments: Theo-doric, for example, rebuilt the walls and forbade the destruction of temples and statues.129'135 Charlemagne aimed to make Aix-la-Chapelle a second Rome, and Otto III dreamed of reigning from the city, and raising his own palace on the Palatine, like the Emperors of old.124 In southern Italy and Sicily, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen131'142 surrounded himself with buildings and artefacts which underlined his connections with ancient Rome, including not only the triumphal arch at Capua, but also golden augustales in imitation of Roman coins,145 and a seal bearing the proud legend Roma Caput Mundi.125'132
After Frederick's death in 1250, and the demise of Manfred and Conradin in quick succession, any stability the city of Rome might reasonably have expected through the competing and roughly equal forces of Emperor, Pope and Roman people came to an end. The Popes fled to Avignon in 1308, leaving the city without spiritual rule, just as the Emperors denied it temporal rule. One of Dante's constant visions,123'126'134 which was later Petrarch's,122'136'143 was to see Rome as caput orbis once more. In Purgatorio (vi. 112-14) he pleads with Albert I to come to Rome and rule:
Vieni a veder la tua Roma che piagne, vedova e sola, e di e notte chiama: "Cesare mio, perche non m'accompagne?" '
Always in Dante's mind is the glory of the past compared with the poverty of the present. The re-establishment of the Empire in its original seat would ensure a new age. Partly as a result of Dante's letters to him, Henry VII of Luxembourg attempted to take control of the city by force, but his plans failed. In 1328, Ludwig of Bavaria, tradition relates, was not crowned Emperor in St Peter's, but on the Capitol itself, to shouts of 'Long Live Caesar!' The shortlived regime of Cola di Rienzo, and Charles VII's coronation in Rome in 1355 (he stayed for one day and then fled the country) are indications of the political anarchy of Italy and the consequent desolation of the city in the fourteenth century.
The gold bulla of Ludwig of Bavaria, 1328—the year he entered Rome to be crowned on the Capitol (here shown symbolically at the centre of the city).
Attitudes to the monuments during the Middle Ages156
Unlike the Emperors, the Popes did make Rome their permanent seat until the flight to Avignon. They converted pagan buildings to Christian use, and raised new buildings at the inevitable expense of the ancient monuments. And they were just as interested as their secular rivals in the implications for their glory of Roma Caput Mundi.160 At least two popes were buried in pagan sarcophagi of porphyry: Innocent II (1130-^43) in the sarcophagus from Hadrian's Mausoleum, and Anastasius IV (1153—4) in another from the Mausoleum of S. Helena on Via Labicana. Later rulers were to follow suit, because porphyry was considered redolent of imperial might.152 Thus when Emperor Otto II died at Rome, in 983, his antique sarcophagus had a Roman lid. Frederick II was interred at Palermo in a porphyry sarcophagus. Even the Virgin Mary, as shown in the Psalter of Henry ofBlois (London, BM), is to be placed in a porphyry sarcophagus! That popes should adopt a secular practice demonstrates the political implications of their claim to temporal power,164 for porphyry (in the shape of marble roundels in cosmatesque
pavements) had a distinct place in both liturgy and the imperial coronation ceremony. 154,155
Similar dreams of ancient glory were entertained by the Roman people when, in 1143, they installed a Senate on the Capitol—the most sacred of Roman hills133'157—and minted coins with the inscription Senatus Populusque Romanus. The Capitol was always their hill, to be vigorously defended when necessary; it is no coincidence that, to this day, it houses municipal offices, as well as municipal art collections.219 The prestige of the Capitol continued throughout the Renaissance.165'171 In 1538, for example, the statue of Marcus Aurel-ius (believed to be a Constantino], for long a symbol of imperial power and Roman justice, was brought thither from the Lateran, and was to form the centrepiece of Michelangelo's great scheme, which incorporated further antique references.147'148
But for most of the Middle Ages, the idea of Rome was more potent an inspiration than the beauty of its monuments. Petrarch's interest in them, for example, is in their power to evoke for him (and, as he hoped, the recalcitrant Emperors) the glory of the antique past, and thereby to restore that civilization which his own writings did so much to evoke.160'169 His attitude is, in other words, an idealistic literary one, which uses the ruins merely as a spur to the imagination. Boccaccio can be more precise.151 Until we reach the more complex sentiments of the Romantic Movement, we might say that there are two ways of looking at ruins, and that Petrarch indulges in them both. One might be termed 'constructive', the other 'destructive'. The first, evinced by the idea Roma quanta fuit. . ., sees ruins as a token of former grandeur. The second has as its watchword sic transit gloria mundif and reflects on the ruins of those very monuments which supposedly proclaimed the immortality of the mortals who built them. Both ideas are staples of European interest in its past from the Middle Ages onward, the one a reflection of pagan glory, the other closely linked with the Christian conviction that only the City of God is eternal. It is essential to note that neither attitude is necessarily aesthetic, that neither presupposes anything other than a political or moralistic
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Rome, Capitol.
parti pris. Pleasure in ruins, as a romantic index of decay, begins in the eighteenth century, and it would be anachronistic to assume that either Middle Ages or Renaissance took any interest in ruins as such.173 The former usually saw them as a quarry for building materials. The latter sometimes sought to reconstruct them, on paper at least, to their former glory. Were a monument too far decayed to be transformed into something useful, it seemed logical to make use of its materials just as previous ages had done.149'158
Because, for the Middle Ages, the monuments and even statues were mainly a convenient source of building supplies, there is little evidence159 of aesthetic appreciation, unless it be for basically political ends.153 Rome was, for most people, the centre of Christianity, and the guidebooks which catered for pilgrims usually omitted the ancient monuments, or used them as landmarks.170 Certain guidebooks, such as the Mirabilia Romae
ABOVE Columns of the antique Temple of Hope, incorporated into S. Nicola in Carcere, Rome.
T/ze Roman Forum, as seen in the plan in the Anonymous Einsidlensis~the oldest guide-book to the City of Rome. The original is possibly late eighth century.
which deal with the 'Marvels of the City of Rome', do include the antiquities, but display a typical medieval propensity to deal in fantasy rather than in fact. They imbue the statues on the Capitol with magical faculties,167 change Virgil from a poet into a necromancer,150'172 and relate that the ashes of Julius Caesar are contained in the ball atop the Vatican Obelisk. The longevity of such ideas, given the supposedly different interests of the Renaissance, is startling: Virgil is still depicted as a magician in the sixteenth century,162 and guidebooks in the Mirabilia tradition continue well into the eighteenth century, virtually unchanged in text or illustrations for more than two hundred years. But, for the more educated traveller, Italy was predominantly the land of classical antiquity, an image of greatness created by the new historical techniques of the Renaissance.
There is a gulf between superstitious medieval attitudes towards the monuments, which perhaps saw statues as devilish because they were so lifelike, and Renaissance attitudes which owe their balance to a historical framework developed during the fourteenth century. For a man like Petrarch, the 'middle' ages were a barren period separating him from those ancient authors whose texts had not survived, and from the full glory of those monuments crumbled to dust. This realization of a sense of difference (no matter how we might hedge it round with qualifications) between past and present is an important step in the development of historical perspective.166 Haphazard survival of the antique is now joined by a very deliberate revival, achieved through the exercise of techniques which seek to categorize and understand the past.189 Petrarch, in his letters to classical authors, imitates a classical style. Lorenzo Valla, in the next century, will use his sense of classical style, and a knowledge of ancient history and custom, and of handwriting and philology, to overturn forged 'antique' documents, and forge a few himself as well. The Middle Ages had assumed that all ages are similar in character, which is why their stories of Alexander the Great are romans de chevalerie. The Renaissance borrowed from the ancients the
notions of difference, causation and change, and thereby learned to study the past as a sequence of actions with causes and consequences. The knowledge of why things happened, and the consciousness of time as the progenitor of difference and change, were important factors in the Renaissance scholars' resurrection of the past. For the Middle Ages, time had, as it were, stood still. For the Renaissance, the consciousness of difference impelled classicizing artists and architects to imitate sources much more closely than had hitherto been the case, and the ruins of Rome provided a rich quarry for study.
It is surely for this reason that documented instances of an aesthetic appreciation of antique remains are rare during the Middle Ages.175 There are two conspicuous instances, from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. About the beginning of the thirteenth century, an Englishman called Magister Gregorius visited Rome and produced an account emphatically not in the Mirabilia tradition, for it
The Palatine, with a reconstruction of the Palazzo Maggiore. From Le Cose Maravigliose di Roma, Rome 1642.
concentrates not on the churches but on the ancient monuments, by the beauty of some of which, he says, he was deeply moved.168 And in about 1375 a follower of Petrarch, Giovanni Dondi, visited the city and, as well as taking measurements and copying inscriptions, left a famous account which tells of contemporary interest in ancient sculpture: Those which have survived somewhere are eagerly looked for and inspected by sensitive persons and command high prices. And if you compare them with what is produced nowadays, it will be evident that their authors were superior in natural genius . . . when carefully observing ancient buildings, statues, reliefs and the like, the artists of our time are amazed.174
This passage is important because it implies not only an aesthetic interest in the past, but also the realization that study of ancient remains could perhaps improve deficient modern styles. This is surely the spirit in which we can imagine Nicola Pisano, Giotto or Ghiberti visiting the City; and we might wonder whether the progressive artists described by Dondi were not, like himself, Florentines, for whom Rome played an essential part in the developing civic humanism of their native city.
Rome after the return of the Popes from Avignon
No concerted move could be made toward the physical or political restoration of the city of Rome while the Popes remained at Avignon (1305-78). Their exile meant the further dereliction of secular and religious monuments, and when they finally returned in 1420 after the Schism of 1378-1417, it was to a city ravaged by years of anarchy, with a population of perhaps 20,000.
The return of the Popes was to be the spur to a thoroughgoing introduction of a classical style into Renaissance art.180 Slowly at first,184 then in earnest following the Jubilee of 1450,183 they put in hand the building of a modern city with and on top of the remains of
The Capitol, Rome, prior to Michelangelo's remodelling. Anonymous engraving, c. 1538.
the old. Their projects for building and decoration not only provided work for artists and architects, but also uncovered antiquities which could then be studied and imitated.177'181 Florentines fulfilled most commissions : Ghiberti went to Rome in 1425/30 and tells us in his Commentaries that he was present at the uncovering of the statue of a hermaphrodite; Donatello made the Tabernacle of the Sacrament for St Peter's (1432/3); Gentile da Fabriano worked at the Lateran (1427); Pis-anello (1431/2) and Masolino (1428/31) also found work. Scholarly activity in the Papal Curia made it a centre of antiquarian learning,182 and perhaps prompted the Popes to restore the Capitol.185'186
If Rome, in the early decades of the fifteenth century, might almost be called a Florentine colony,178 then why did the revival of classicism occur first in Florence, rather than in Rome, apparently its natural habitat? Perhaps because interest in ancient Rome was an intellectual phenomenon for which close contact with the city was not at first essential. We have seen how Petrarch's preoccupation is primarily literary. Similarly, the scholarly career of Coluccio Salutati, Chancellor of the Florentine Republic, antiquarian and book-collector, is concerned largely with the written reminders of Rome, and not with her monuments (which were, of course, scarce in Tuscany).187 The construction of the Porta della Mandorla of the Cathedral, probably under his
prompting, is important as a 'divide' between medieval and Renaissance attitudes toward Antiquity. Here, for the first time, Antiquity is used on its own terms, and not merely as a handy motif: classical meaning is reintegrated with classical form. Hercules can stand as Hercules, not transmuted into Fortitudo as on the Pisa Baptistery Pulpit. The figure can be appreciated without the need for a screen of Christian overtones, for his antique associations and for the beauty of his nude form. One of the artists of whom Dondi writes may well have found the model for such a Hercules in his studies in Rome, for there is a third-century AD pilaster relief now in the Grotte Vaticane which is extremely close to it. Thus Florentine artists of c. 1400 must have had contacts with Rome and its remains. But much more significant at this period is that leap of the historical imagination which makes possible the expression of such a classical style.
Despite artists' visits to Rome in the first decades of the fifteenth century, a broad renaissance of interest in the antiquities of the city could not begin until the Popes started to build in earnest. The wanderings and financial hardships of the Popes during the Great Schism (1378-1417) and the uncertainties of the Councils of Constance (1414^18) and Basle (1431^49) had precluded any great attention to the beautification of the papal city. It was only with the election of Nicholas V in 1447,176 the establishment of the Vatican Library, and finally the election of Enea Silvio Piccolomini as Pius II (1458-64), that any thorough renovation began. Nicholas began to refurbish the city after centuries of neglect, to attend to the water-supply, and even to pave a few streets. He restored churches and the Vatican Palace, and tried to repopulate neglected areas of the city. Alberti,179 a member of the Curia, helped him with his plans, and may have put into his mind the notion of rebuilding the Early Christian and very dilapidated basilica of St Peter's. * Nor was he the only scholar in papal service, for, as Vespasiano da Bisticci writes in his memoirs, 'all the scholars in the world came to Rome in the time of Pope
*For Alberti and architecture, see pp. 128-33.
Nicholas, partly of their own accord, and partly at his request, because he desired to have them there'. He wished, in other words, to make Rome a centre of learning, as she had been in Antiquity. He collected Greek and Latin classics, as well as the writings of the early Church Fathers. Just as his manuscript-hunting was an attraction to scholars, so his building projects attracted like-minded artists.
Scholarly study of the antiquities of Rome
It is, therefore, from the mid-fifteenth century, and not earlier, that serious and prolonged study is made of the antiquities of Rome.175 In earlier centuries, Roman marble had been enthusiastically exported as far as Ravenna, Pisa and even Westminster Abbey. The Romans of the fifteenth century had no scruples about continuing such an effortless practice, which provided great difficulties for the scholar. From Antiquity onward, new buildings had been built with old materials or on old foundations, and pagan buildings converted to Christian use. Problems of dating were therefore great, and Renaissance scholars tended to treat all Early Christian monuments as pagan Roman structures, and to urge their imitation along with that of the ruins themselves. Again, many of the ruins lay partially buried under several feet of earth and debris,
The Arch ofSeptimius Severus and the Temple of Saturn, from Etienne Duperac, I Vestigi dell' Antichita di Roma, 1575. The buildings are partially buried by fourteen feet of debris, and the one on the right is not the Temple, but the Curia lulia.
so that close examination of lower parts required digging. Furthermore, the renovatio of Rome which the intellectuals so dearly desired could only occur at the expense of the monuments themselves.
Inspired by the example of Petrarch, fifteenth-century scholars tried to study the past in an ordered manner, arranging antiquities by classifying them into categories, and trying to understand the past as a sequence of events rather than as unrelated happenings. 189,i96 The study which illustrates best the preoccupations of many scholars is that of topography.200 Scholars realized that every new building and every new road entailed the destruction of clues to a fuller understanding of the past (even if further remains were revealed in the process). It became obvious that the only lasting way of evoking the glory of ancient Rome, short of preserving what remained and rebuilding what did not, was through some kind of census of the monuments, best achieved in a plan of the city. There are, of course, stylized medieval views of Rome,174'199 but Alberti may have been the first to propose a scientific plan. No finished product survives, but, in any case, his project was probably for a plan of the city as it looked in his own day, and not a reconstruction of some antique period. Not until Raphael's famous letter of 1514 do we find a scholar trying to reconstruct the actual shape of a great number of ruined buildings, which his appointment as Superintendent of Antiquities in 1515 placed under his care. Raphael's evident expertise prompted the formation of a Commission in 1519 to prepare an ideal view of ancient Rome, which would include only monuments prior to the end of the Empire. He was helped by Andrea Fulvio,202 who had produced a poem on the ancient remains in 1513, dedicated to Leo X—the Antiquaria Urbis. The appearance of Raphael's plan, and just how far it had progressed before he died, are a matter for conjecture.190'194 The whole scheme, however, is the heir to an antiquarian tradition of exact scholarship begun in the time of Alberti, when a colleague in the Curia, Flavio Biondo, sought to offer 'a vision of ancient Rome' in a series of books, of which the Roma Instaurata(1444-6) is the most important.204 This seeks to relate evidence in the ancient authors to the remains on the ground—not always successfully.197 Flavio's books are not illustrated, for his 'vision' was the total view of Roman civilization, not simply of its monuments. His work provides the schema for Andrea Fulvio's own contribution of 1527, the Antiquitates Urbis; it is, indeed, the first of a long series of antiquarian topographical handbooks.191
An invaluable aid in the reconstruction of the past were coins and medals.206 In the study of numismatics (and, by extension, of epigraphy)195'201 the interests of artists, scholars and collectors converged. Often available in many copies, coins and medals were small, portable and relatively cheap. They provided a wealth of documentation about ancient chronology, titles and mottoes, and satisfied the
Andrea Fulvio, Illustrium Imagines, Rome, 1517. Vespasian, showing the use of antique looking grotesques.
Aenea Vico. Page of medals from his Imagines ex antiquis numismatis desumptae, 2nd edition, Parma, 1554.
thirst for knowing what men of old actually looked like. The scenes or figures on their reverse sides were a mine of ideas for artists, for these sometimes included reminiscences of ancient works of art or architecture.193 The roundel, derived from the antique medal, became a popular Renaissance motif, as on the facade of the Colleoni Chapel at Bergamo, or at Hampton Court. Coins and medals were often produced in the antique manner,192'198 and the example of the antique provided the inventors of emblems and devices (very popular from the fifteenth century to the seventeenth) with much of their material.188 Andrea Fulvio, in 1517, was the first scholar to publish a collection of images taken from coins: his Illustrium Imagines sought to include all well-known figures from the antique past.203 A book such as this, which was to have many imitators, underlines not only a constant desire for true likenesses, but the extent to which scholars relied upon coins for the establishment of series of dates upon which to build the sequence of history. Petrarch, for example, had probably used coins to help him with the iconography of the Sala Virorum Illustrium at Padua.161'169
But the Illustrium Imagines also introduces another important aspect of the Renaissance interest in Antiquity. When Andrea had no image of a particular subject, he invented one. In other words, in this and other fields of study, the premium placed on authenticity was sometimes small; or, rather, the Renaissance view of fact was different from our own.205 As in Andrea's frequently inaccurate copying of inscriptions, what counts is the spirit and not the letter. Artists and architects tried to recreate Antiquity in a modern guise, to rival the past in their work but not to copy it. Thus Bramante's Tempietto and Raphael's School of Athens have recognizable connections with the antique past, and display considerable scholarly research, but neither is a copy in any sense: they are modern works, just as Palladio's villas or the Villa Madama are modern houses conceived in an antique manner. Thoroughgoing antiquarians like Andrea Mantegna were rare. While, therefore, it is instructive to compare Renaissance works with their antique counterparts, to admire the progress of scholarship and to realize the use made of scholarship by artists, it is destructive to assess works of art for 'correctness' or 'fidelity of reproduction'. Renaissance classicism is in many respects a new style, and not an aping of the past.
The collecting of antiquities
Throughout the Middle Ages, and the earlier Renaissance, antiquities were sometimes preserved, or found by chance208'226 and re-used, but it is not until the fifteenth century that we discover much information about the formation of collections,211 or evidence of deliberate excavation.216 Collecting was pursued not simply for aesthetic motives, for the imitation of Antiquity formed part of the very fabric of Renaissance civic and court life.209 Artists were commissioned to decorate rooms with antique motifs,221'223 to organize pageants and triumphs with antique trappings, and sometimes even to work in an Egyptian manner, for Egypt was believed to be the source of ancient Roman religion and institutions.210 As adjuncts to works of art, scholars produced inscriptions and genealogies, and writers imitated the antique in plays and poems.224 The outward expression of a prince's interest in the antique, and often a convenient hunting-ground for his artists, was his collection of
Some of the antiquities which an academically-minded seventeenth-century sculptor like Girardon might re-interpret in his work. Few artists' collections are known in such detail as that of Girardon. From R. Charpentier, Le Cabinet de Girardon, Paris, 1710.
antiquities; these became fashionable from the fifteenth century onwards, and were occasionally acquired with a manic zeal which ignored mere legality.214'215 We have little information about early collections; we know Ghiberti possessed many examples of antique art, and, according to Vasari, it was Donatello who inspired Cosimo de' Medici the Elder to start collecting. This the later Medici did with a vengeance, so that by the time of his son Piero, the number of coins in the collection had doubled and, by that of Lorenzo, increased another four times. Again according to Vasari, it was in the Medici 'sculpture-garden' that Michelangelo received his early training.
Quattrocento collectors were not restricted to what was available in the immediate neighbourhood, for enterprising scholars and princes sometimes obtained material from as far afield as Rhodes or Cyprus.217 Because of the frequent wanderings of the papal retinue, scholars in the Curia (who perhaps introduced into Rome the Florentine mania for collecting) were in a good position to hunt for antiquities, including manuscripts of ancient authors.222
One such official was Poggio Bracciolini, a protege of Coluccio Salutati, whose letters provide us with a fascinating and exciting picture of his activities.212 Although his main task in life was the hunting and copying of manuscripts, his letters also show his feeling for ancient art and life, and chronicle his attempts to build up a collection of his own. He writes enthusiastically to Niccolo de' Niccolis in 1427 that he has 'a room full of antique heads', and in 1433 he describes to his friend the procession into Rome and coronation of Sigismund as Holy Roman Emperor. In the letter, he emphasizes the antique elements in the procession and dress, discourses on the wearing of laurel wreaths, on the origins of the imperial acclamatio, and on the origins of certain ceremonies current in the age of Charlemagne.
No one, apart from families like the Medici,220 could compete with papal purchasing power or with the intricacies of papal 'persuasion'. The Popes sought antiquities which would reflect their taste, and it is to the efforts of a select number of pontiffs that we owe the richness of the Vatican collections. Pietro Barbo, a Venetian who ascended the throne in 1464 as Paul II (died 1471), was the first pope to collect seriously.225 And if his collections were dispersed at his death by his successor (some pieces finding their way to the Medici), that successor, Sixtus IV, presented a notable group of antiquities to the Roman people, with the aim of assembling 'some tangible witnesses of Roman magnificence in the very seat of the city's municipal government ... a museum of former Roman splendour'.144 That museum is, appropriately, housed on the Capitol.213'218'219 The next important foundation was the Statue Court of the Vatican Belvedere, instituted by Julius II in 1503 and used to house all important works found on papal property or bought by the papacy.207 The bringing together of such works as the Laocoon, the Apollo Belvedere, the Belvedere Torso and the Cleopatra, all works which were both models and acknowledged standards of excellence for Renaissance artists, is in itself an act of inspiration from the antique. The Pope wished to make of his Belvedere villa the simulacrum of an antique villa, and to fill it with appropriate statues, after the fashion of the remains of antique villas which were plentiful in the Roman Campagna (see pp. 63^).
The use of antiquities by artists
Thanks to public and private collections,215 the student of antique art was not short of sculptural examples,214 which he would copy in sketch-books for his own use and the use of his pupils and shop.232'233 There is evidence that fifteenth-century sketch-books were carefully preserved, and even passed on from father to son. The Census of Antiques Known to the Renaissance,229 maintained by the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, shows an increase in such sketch-books as paper became cheaper. We may be sure that they were maintained as books of reference sometimes put together over a long period; there are examples of sketch-books copied in toto, showing just how widely designs could spread through Italy, and later throughout Europe.
The ruins of Polyandrion from P. Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Polifili, Venice, 1499.
Printed books could also help in disseminating information. One very individual guidebook is the Antiquarie Prospetische Romane, written c. 1500, dedicated to Leonardo, and recently suggested to be by Bramante (see p. 134, below). Although the book is not illustrated except for a frontispiece, the author describes in 434 verses the monuments and works of art in Rome, and tries to woo the dedicatee to the city by the relation of such delights.234 Even more individual is the Hypnerotomachia Polifili, a historical romance first published at Venice in 1499, which was famous throughout the Renaissance, as much for its profuse architectural illustrations as for its curious text. This describes, sometimes in detail, the buildings encountered by Polifilo on his travels, and the illustrations provide fanciful yet very imaginative reconstructions of ancient architecture. More serious, and ultimately more useful, are the architectural text- and pattern-books.228
Almost as important as artists' drawings are the prints of antique and contemporary works of art and architecture, which spread the
LEFT One of Laocoon's sons. E. Bouchardon: Statuas hasce antiquas ab E. Bouchardon . . . delineatas n.p. 1732. RIGHT Rear view of one of the sons of Laocoon. Jan de Bisschop: Icones et Paradigmata, 1668, 1669. Compare these two engravings with the front view of the group on p. 36.
Study direct from the originals sometimes presented difficulties. Access to private collections might be hard to obtain. Figured columns required some kind of scaffolding if successful copies were to be made of the upper parts. To draw freehand something as large as the Sistine Ceiling would be, to say the least, exacting. Reproductions were therefore a welcome alternative, and were produced in huge quantities, of very varied quality, from about 1540 onwards.227 Before this date, prints were certainly fewer in number and much more expensive. * The mid-sixteenth century was a time when foreign artists began to flock to Rome, and when paper had become relatively cheap.
*'Artistic' prints were no doubt collected earlier.241
We must, however, be careful to treat prints as a category of art which need not be at all faithful to the work it attempts to reproduce. Because of the limitations of the techniques of etching and engraving, or of the skill of the print-maker, the works of painting or sculpture copied were often presented in a more or less schematic manner. Sometimes composite works like the Laocoon or the Wrestlers would have their individual elements printed as separate plates, from several angles. Friezes or sarcophagi might be presented in the same manner, as an aid to study. An artist's sketch could, of course, abbreviate the subject-matter in a similar manner. It might be argued that a medium which reduces objects of light, texture, colour and atmosphere to a set of lines and semi-abstract shapes produces, in many cases, a treatment which is per se classical, since it concentrates perforce on formal and intellectual qualities in the work reproduced. Francesco Algarotti, writing in 1760, makes the position clear:
Prints can show the deportment and shape of the figures, the carriage of the head, the composition and general appearance of the painting, but they do not give any of the delicacy of the effects of light, or the freshness and harmony of the colour tones. Tints, which alone provide the magic and charm of a painting, evaporate and disappear in prints. They resemble in these shortcomings those faithful translations which the French have made of the Iliad and Aeneid to which those who want to form a true opinion of Greek and Latin poetry never refer, because they contain so little of the purity of the original . . ,238
An example to suit Algarotti's case would be Gaspard Dughet's frescoes in S. Martino ai Monti in Rome, full of silvery light, which appear totally different when engraved for the first time by Pietro Parboni in 1810. Compositions full of a baroque fugue become neoclassical ones in the manner of Dom-enichino. This example clarifies another procedure connected with the reproduction of pictures, namely that each generation sees the work of earlier ages after its own image. Such a process, to the possessor of photographic documentation, might seem purblind naivety, but it is by such restatement and recapitulation that the strength of a tradition can be assessed. The idea that the Laocoon could mean different things to different artists (at the same moment as well as at different periods in time) is a simple yet crucial one for understanding the complex possibilities for imitation offered by a relatively restricted number of antiquities.237
The supply of antiquities was closely related to the rate of urban development, as more and more of the area within the walls was no longer used for agriculture but for housing and other building. From this gradual process came certain consequences which affect our assessment of the development of a classicizing style in painting and sculpture. The constant destruction meant, first of all, that we are unable to judge the relationship of a particular work to the antique because the probable sources do not survive. This is the case with many Early Christian frescoes and mosaics, and with richly decorated pagan sources such as the Domus Aurea, which is now dilapidated. Early Christian work surely had a great influence on
A detail of a pilaster framing Pinturicchio's fresco of Piccolomini at the Court of Scotland. The grotesques are influenced by the artist's study of the Golden House of Nero.
the manner of Masaccio; and it would be interesting to have seen the Domus Aurea while its decorations were unaffected by constant tracing and rubbing, in order to compare them with the schemes of Raphael and his contemporaries. Even if decorative frescoes and stuccoes sometimes survived into the Renaissance, antique painting could usually only be imitated through literary descriptions culled from the ancient authors,235 perhaps aided by the example of sculptural remains, or by theory.236
Relief sculpture, on the other hand, was readily available throughout the Renaissance. It was relatively difficult to damage accidentally, and more awkward to carry to the lime kilns than sculpture in the round. Classicizing painters of the Early Renaissance (to say nothing of sculptors like Nicola Pisano) imitate low-relief sculpture, such as friezes on sarcophagi, much more than sculpture in the round: presumably their choice was predetermined by the sources available. As the rebuilding of Rome began and examples of sculpture were dug from the earth, and as lime-burners realized that more money was to be made from selling sculptures than from burning them, a wider range of antiquities became available to artists. Indeed, curbs were gradually placed on the activities of lime-burners and builders' merchants in order to preserve the remaining monuments. Because of the larger selection of sculpture in the round, High Renaissance works of art (mostly, after all, produced in Rome) differ from their earlier counterparts : due weight can now be given to each individual figure in a composition, rather than to the interlacing of a set of figures in imitation of antique friezes. From the anonymity of figures in a crowd, the Renaissance moves towards a powerful expression of idealized personality.
For sculptors, the availability of models had equally drastic effects on their art. Florentine sculpture of the fifteenth century is more antique-orientated than painting of the same date precisely because of the availability of models in the same medium. And here again, the frieze or bas-relief precedes the freestanding sculpture; works of the latter type were sometimes given the admiring appellation of statua, which had overtones of grandeur.239 Alberti, indeed, judged that the statue was the best of all types of monument, and surely did so because he realized the public function of much of the sculpture of the Roman world, for it was often erected to enhance the fora and other monuments which were a necessary part of military triumphs, and an index of the commissioner's thirst for fame to outlast his lifetime. In the De re aedificatoria, Alberti urges patrons to decorate religious and
civil buildings with large statues, because they 'marvellously preserve the memory of men and deeds'. Clearly Renaissance patrons, well versed in antique literature, and persuaded by the prestigious remains of ancient sculpture visible in Rome, were well aware of the overtones of power, virtue and glory that could accrue from a judicious use of works of art. Large and expensive works like Donatello's Judith and Holofernes, or his Gattamelata, or Michelangelo's David or Julius Monument project, were commissioned not because of a love of pure art, but for a purpose. The great artist is he who, drawing on the tradition of which he forms a part, can create an image which is endlessly suggestive. Thus the David of Michelangelo carries outside its biblical reference clear connotations of ancient Roman heroism and grandeur, just as the Julius Monument was planned as a modern version of an Imperial Roman funeral monument to be set within the largest mausoleum ever built, the new St Peter's. The commemorative monument, unknown to Christianity, makes its reappearance in the fifteenth century, and has clear links with those antique monuments from which its ideology and imagery derive.231
What is a forgery?243
Much of this book is concerned with the ways in which artists made use of antiquities, but one aspect deserves special mention in this chapter. From the fifteenth century onwards, there were always more collectors to be satisfied than genuine pieces to satisfy them. In addition, imitation of the antique was the aim of mature artists, and not simply part of their training; it forms part, for example, of Vasari's criteria of excellence. Little wonder, therefore, that forgery, or the completion of fragments, was a thriving industry in Rome, and continues to this day. The most commonly forged of all articles were small bronzes, coins and medals, some of which are so deceptive that there must be Renaissance works masquerading as antique,242'244 and vice versa.246'247 After all, a work is not really a forgery until the fact that it is a forgery is discovered! Those which we can now recognize as deceptive copies of
RIGHT An anonymous relief, in an 'antique' style, and with reminiscences of Michelangelo. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
BELOW Agostino di Duccio (attrib): Tomb of Giovanni Arberini (diedc. 1490), the relief probably antique. Rome, S. Maria Sopra Minerva.
antique work provide us with an important insight into the Renaissance conception of the past. Details of whom they deceived, and for how long, can be a measure of antiquarian skill, and of the development of a rational and informed view of the past.245 Imitation is certainly the sincerest form of flattery, and there is a very thin dividing line between the desire to pay tribute to the past and the desire to deceive one's contemporaries, a line which, at this distance in time, we have insufficient evidence to draw.
The use of antiquities by builders
The earlier sixteenth century saw a boom in construction unparalleled in the fifteenth century. Because of the activities of the Popes and the rich Roman families, Rome during the High Renaissance must have resembled a large building site.248'251 The taunt of the following century, quello che non hanno fatto i Barbari, facevano i Barberini,250 was certainly valid for the age of Raphael, and prompted him to write the famous letter to Pope Leo X protesting against the depredations: those famous works which today more than ever would be magnificent and beautiful, thus by the wicked rage and cruel impetus of evil men[i.e. the Barbarians]
were injured, burned, and destroyed, yet not to such a degree that there has not been left to us almost the entire structure, but without ornament, so to speak the bones of the body without the flesh . . . How many Pontiffs, Holy Father . . . have attempted to ruin ancient temples, statues, arches and other glorious constructions! . . . How much lime has been made from statues, and from other ancient ornaments! ... all this new Rome, which we now see, however great she is, however beautiful... is made entirely with lime from ancient marbles . . . It should not therefore, Holy Father, be among the last thoughts of Your Holiness to have concern that the little which remains of this ancient mother of glory, and of Italian greatness ... be not extirpated and devastated by the malicious and the ignorant...
Raphael—if he was in fact the author of the letter—goes on to give a brief history of architecture, and then to sketch out the method he will use to draw on paper a plan of ancient Rome so that the city's buildings, through true argument . . . can infallibly be brought back to the very state in which they were, reconstituting those parts which are entirely ruined.252
View of the Palatine from the Forum. Etienne Duperac, I Vestigi dell'Antichita di Roma. Rome, 1575.
But in spite of Raphael's protests, the magnificence of the new St Peter's came from the inevitable sources. Indeed, the attitude of the Papacy to the monuments was as wanton as that of its secular rivals.253 The Holy See, by custom, controlled debris on the ground and under it, while the Roman people had rights over the monuments. For authorization to excavate, the Holy See sometimes took a cut of the profits. No one showed any desire to preserve the past for the past's sake. Monuments which could not be re-used or in some way converted were dismantled, unless they were of supreme importance as examples of Roman grandeur—what Raphael calls 'noble and harmonious'. His contemporary Albertini, for example, writing in 1509, reported having seen at least five triumphal arches turned into lime within his own lifetime. And not only were the marbles destroyed for Roman purposes : their export continued to thrive.249
The use of antiquities by landowners
An account of the building activity on one Roman hill, the Palatine, through several cen-
turies, will demonstrate varying attitudes to the ancient remains, ranging from total insouciance to fully controlled archaeological investigation. Such an account will also show what architects could infer from the ruins they saw on the ground.
The Palatine, with its fine view and gentle breezes, had been the preferred site for the palaces of the Emperors. (The name of the hill, indeed, gives us the very word 'palace'.) Because of this popularity, the Palatine is rich in large and sumptuous ruins, and must have been a choice area for excavations during the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, however, its function was rather different.257 It contained at least one monastery and one church, both of which were enclosed within the fortifications of the Frangipani family, whose rather draughty palace was the Colosseum itself.
As in the case of the Forum256 below it, much of the prime building material was stripped from the site during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In 1539, the Farnese began buying up parcels of land, and built a sumptuous vigna on part of the hill (begun 1542). This was a vineyard and pleasure-garden, with no house but with casinos, an underground
Rome, Villa Giulia: frescoes of the semicircular portico, with grotesques, c. 1553.
nymphaeum decorated with frescoes, and a cryptoporticus. Nymphaeum and cryptopor-ticus derive from the example of the nearby palace of Nero, the Domus Aurea, so called because of its sybaritic splendour; filled in by rubble and buried by the Baths of Trajan which used its walls as foundations, the palace was discovered during the later years of the fifteenth century, and provided the Renaissance with a wealth of decorative motifs which were known as grotteschi because they were discovered underground. No doubt the new gardens, the 'Horti Farnesiorum', were filled with antique statues found on the hill, but in no other way do they respect the site, for the creators of the formal gardens swept away any ruins which impeded them.260'262'265 Etienne Duperac's view of 1575 shows the Circus Maximus divided into allotments, and the Septizonium still intact—as it remained until 1588, when Domenico Fontana demolished it on the orders of Sixtus V in order to use its fabric for St Peter's.261 In 1552, for the first time, a map of the city was produced which attempted to reconstruct the 'Palace of the Caesars' on the Palatine, rather than to show the ruins or the original ground plan. Its author was the antiquary Pirro Ligorio, and we shall return to his activities shortly when dealing with his designs for another vigna in the antique manner, the Villa d'Este at Tivoli. In 1690 the Horti Farnesiorum were chosen as the site for the foundation of a literary equivalent of Poussin's Arcadian Shepherds (Chatsworth): the academy called the Arcadia255'258 is the culmination of Renaissance beliefs in a golden age of Mankind.263 An amphitheatre in pastoral mode was built for it in the Horti in 1693, and, as a jaundiced English visitor described this still thriving institution in 1823: 'Every member, on admission, becomes a shepherd, and takes some pastoral name, and receives a grant of some fanciful pastoral estate in the happy regions of Arcadia, where he is supposed to feed his harmless sheep . . . rills of nonsense meander from every mouth . . ,'259 The genius loci which
ABOVE Pirro Ligorio: Map of Ancient Rome, 1561. Detail of reconstruction of city, showing 'Palace of the Caesars'. BELOW Francesco Bianchini: Del Palazzo de' Cesari, Verona, 1738.
Vatican, Cortile del Belvedere. Engraving by Ambrogio Brambilla, c. 1579.
surely inspired such pseudo-antique preoccupations was not enough to satisfy the Duke of Parma, who purchased the Horti in 1720, for he immediately undertook a series of excavations, which were published in 1738 together with reconstructions of their former glory.254 In the full spate of the neoclassical revival, Rancoureil excavated part of the atrium of the Domus Augustana (c. 1775). He worked in strict secrecy to guard against theft (which was also a great problem in the extensive excavations at Pompeii and Hercu-laneum). His plan of the atrium was published in 1785 in a periodical publication entitled Monumenti antichi inediti ovvero Notizie sulle Antichita e belle Arti di Roma, which appeared between 1784 and 1809. In purpose, the journal underlined the growing interest of that period in archaeological documentation although the quality of the contributions to this new science was often low. Then, with the quickening pace of excavation of the 1840s, most of the Horti were destroyed. Fuller excavations took place when they passed to the State in 1870.264
The use of antiquities by architects: the Renaissance villa
Given the large numbers of remains in Rome and in the Roman Campagna, it is natural that, of all the arts, Renaissance architecture should be the most clearly antiquarian. The chapter
on Italian architecture will give a chronological account of developments; here I shall explore the importance of the villa and its setting during the sixteenth century, in order to clarify the extent of antique inspiration.272'277'286
Princes of the fifteenth century usually built villas which were airy versions of medieval castles, and knew of antique prototypes only through accounts in ancient authors.268 However, the survival/revival dilemma occurs in the study of villa history just as it does in other disciplines. How much, in fact, could the fifteenth century have known of antique villa design through surviving antique types ?284 At least one villa, the Villa Colonna at Palestrina (portico dated 1493, the rest probably earlier), is actually erected on the ruins of a classical structure, and there may of course have been other examples.289 A debate continues about whether Palladio's villas were based on surviving types to be found in the Veneto.
Certainly, the High Renaissance knew and used the most famous villa sites (particularly that of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli) for fixing the plan and sometimes the elevation of their own constructions, as well as being influenced by modern types of building. Thus Bramante was to follow the lead of the Belvedere Villa of Innocent VIII in the Vatican (1484-7, by Pin-turicchio) in making his own addition to the Vatican, the Court of the Belvedere, rigorously symmetrical.267 Pinturicchio had made explicit the links between the humanism of the papacy and its architectural environment by introducing into his design illusionistic decorative schemes both directly derived and freely interpreted from the Domus Aurea.281'302'303 He probably studied other ancient sites about which we know nothing. The intricate rooms and grand spaces of Nero's palace were recreated by Raphael and his associates at the Villa Farnesina and the Villa Madama,286 and it is likely that Raphael also sought inspiration at Tivoli.300
Bramante's scheme for the Cortile del Belvedere in the Vatican makes use of remains of ancient villas and of descriptions of villas given by authors like Pliny.266 Bramante intended to produce an ensemble whose architecture would form a permanent theatre set, with the best viewing position being the windows of Raphael's stanze.275'301 The Cortile's main features of exedra, nymphaeum, elaborate waterworks, and changes of level by means of grand staircases are all based on antique precept, as is its architectural detail.287 The parallels with Pliny's very full description
The Cortile del Belvedere, with Bramante's original staircase to the exedra. From Amico Aspertini's sketchbook, c. 1540. British Museum.
J. M. Suaresius: Praenestes Antiquae Libri Duo, Rome, 1655. Detail of his reconstruction of the hill and temple.
of his Tuscan villa—full enough to prompt many reconstructions from the words alone— are very close.296'304 Ackerman, citing Serlio's estimation of Bramante as the restorer of antique architecture, buried until his time, argues that the Cortile, with its axial and scenic arrangement, is in fact the parent of the monumental piazza format, and of the outward-looking, garden-orientated villas of later years.267-271
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Cortile as designed by Bramante (it was subsequently altered) is the variety of ways in which he deals with changes of level. He learned some techniques not from an ancient villa, but from the splendid temple site at Praeneste, where the Temple of Fortuna is approached by a series of ramps, stairs and colonnades.290 Built on top of a hill, the Temple of Fortuna and its approaches were clearly visible during the Renaissance (bombing during World War II cleared more of the site). We may imagine the author of the Hypner-otomachia Polifili visiting Praeneste, investigating the caverns and passages and staircases, and transposing them into the make-believe of his architectural fairy-tale.293 But the fame of Praeneste was no greater than that of the Cortile which derives from it, so that when Palladio drew the Temple of Fortuna in plan and elevation in 1546/7, and reconstructed missing sections,306 his ideas were greatly influenced by Bramante's own work in
the Vatican.283 He supplies, that is, his reconstruction of Praeneste with just such a concave—convex semi-circular staircase307 as Bramante used for the approach to his exedra at the highest level of his scheme, a design which Serlio had popularized in a woodcut. There seems, then, to have been influence both ways between reconstructions of Praeneste and the Belvedere project. Indeed, we might add to the equation the elaborate complex of the Temple of Hercules Victor at Tivoli, which Bramante must have known well, and which Palladio reconstructed to look much like the Temple of Fortune at Praeneste.308'309 Modern buildings now cover much of the site.
Such an example illustrates the complicated relationship between antique and Renaissance architecture. If the above supposition is correct, Palladio looked at some antique architecture through eyes trained and conditioned by the achievement of his High Renaissance forebears. The view of the past changes from generation to generation, and depends largely on previous interpretations of the tradition. Indeed, we have not yet reached the end of the story of the Cortile del Belvedere. Bramante had designed a calm and logical courtyard, airy and spacious, with an exedra at one end. In the early 1560s Pirro Ligorio, as Papal Architect, added another storey and a capping to the great niche, to reinforce visually the powerful staircase designed by Michelangelo, which had replaced Bramante's semi-circular concave-convex one. Pirro Ligorio thus overpowered Bramante's clarity and understatement by introducing the grand scale of Roman baths into a place to which they were not suited. Pirro cannot be dubbed a Mannerist architect, since he inveighed heartily against the architectural style of his contemporaries: he writes of their 'stupidities' and continually harks back to the achievements of the High Renaissance.278 Yet his addition of a storey to the niche, which makes the Cortile look much more like the Temple of Fortuna at Praeneste, and indeed like Palladio's reconstruction thereof, shows clearly the distinction between a classical and a proto-baroque interpretation of Antiquity.
In other words, in the same way as its statues
Temple plan and elevation of bays, from Book HI ofSebastiano Serlio's Architettura, 1540.
had done, so the ancient remains of Rome and its environs influenced different periods in differing ways. All architects from the Renaissance onward grounded their work on the example of Antiquity, but so vast was the range of forms and styles in antique architecture that almost any taste could be suited. Nowhere in the sober, classicizing work of Bramante, for example, is there any interest in the drama and surprise that certain juxtapositions of rooms and passages in the Domus Aurea could provide; nowhere does he indulge in the cunningly concealed lighting system which he had opportunity to study there. Nor, again, in his researches at Hadrian's Villa, did Bramante take any notice of the swinging re-entrant curves which are a feature of the so-called 'Piazza d'Oro'.292 For such elements of the 'Ancient Roman Baroque' only began to exert their fascination in the seventeenth century, and to form the foundation of a style whose exuberance and freedom of detail had little connection, even in basic vocabulary, with the High Renaissance tradition and its codification of Vitruvius. It is not that architects like Borromini did not respect and
One of Montana's temple plans from G. B. Soria: Scelta di varii tempietti antichi, Libro Secondo, Rome, n.d.
use Antiquity, but rather that it was a different Antiquity which appealed to them.270 Blunt has surmised that 'if the ancient sources used by Borromini were collected, I believe they would make a list almost as consistent as the corresponding series of models used by Poussin'.274 The whole question of Borromini's sources might be symbolized by the engravings published after drawings by G. B. Mon-tanus (died 1621). Montanus says that his plans and elevations, some of them reconstructions, are taken from antique remains.305 But the question is a vexed one, for most of Montanus' designs look so Baroque that the truth of his assertion is doubted. On the one hand, there must have been a very rich selection of antique mausolea available, judging by survivals in Campania.285'298 On the other, some of Montanus' designs are similar to those of Serlio, and since the latter's knowledge of antique architecture is not thought to extend much further than Flavian and Hadrianic styles, probably Montanus' designs are mostly make-believe.273 However, they are no more make-believe and no less antique than, for example, the grand basilica which forms the setting for Raphael's School of Athens. In other words, the antique is an inspiration to architects, and not a vice which cramps their style.
Bramante, who died in 1514, left few drawings and no notebooks, so we can only guess at his involvement with the antique. Pirro Ligorio, of the next generation (c. 1520-80) left plenty of both, and we can follow the importance of his antiquarian activities in his work as a popular architect. Like both Raphael and Bramante, Pirro was also a scholar. So industrious was he that in the decade 1543-53 he compiled forty volumes of accounts of Roman antiquities, very few of which were published.297 He made a map of ancient Rome in 1552, which was republished in amended form in 1553 and again in 1561. The success of these maps was surely due to the reconstructions they provided of the monuments, for they did not merely provide a plan, as Leonardo Bufalini's work of 1551 did.282 Somewhat later Pirro Ligorio also made a plan of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli. His work must have been recognized as of high quality, for eight manuscript copies of the plan are extant, and when a large-scale plan of the site was published in 1751, Pirro's name was incorporated in the title.280
During the very years when Pirro Ligorio was making plans of Rome and Hadrian's Villa, he was also engaged on the design of villa and gardens at the Villa d'Este at Tivoli (begun 1549).279 His antiquarian activities were essential for his own architecture, as a walk round both ancient and modern sites makes clear. The sixteenth-century vogue for villas and their settings and for the country life they conjure up was largely inspired by ancient literature; the same might be said about the rustic genre scenes of the Bassano family. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the vogue continued.291 A comparison between Hadrian's Villa and the Villa d'Este certainly shows so many points of similarity that the latter may be considered an imitation of the former: Pirro had many statues brought from Hadrian's Villa to his own site,269 and introduced nymphaea, cryptoportici and unusually shaped pools into the design of his garden. As for the Villa d'Este itself, it stands
Fountains in the Villa d'Este gardens from G. F. Venturini: Le Fontane del Giardino estense in Tivoli.
Pirro was, of course, also complying with the desires of his client, Cardinal d'Este, who had been prevented by the Pope from building magnificently in Rome itself. He is reported to have vowed that, 'if he could not have a house in Rome, he would have Rome in his house'.295 Pirro therefore built in the gardens a Fountain of Rome (begun 1567), which is a version of the reconstructions on his own map of Rome, for several famous Roman landmarks are easily recognizable. Now dilapidated, the full splendour of this miniature Rome can still be captured in contemporary engravings. Coffin's comparison of this backdrop to the actual fountain with Serlio's scena tragica (Book n, 1545)288 and palladio's Teatro Olimpico at Vi-cenza (c. 1584) is apt if, as seems likely, the Fountain of Rome was also the setting for theatrical performances. Mantegna's Triumphs, it will be remembered, served the same function. Such insubstantial reconstructions, like magnificent designs on paper, were a
The scena tragica, from Sebastiano Serlio's Architettura, Book II, 1545.
substitute in miniature for grand and impossibly expensive real buildings.276
The fountains and pools of the Villa d'Este were to set the standard for seventeenth-century designs; in the eighteenth century, the whole dilapidated site enchanted an age preoccupied with ruins. Of course, similar fantastic creations at Hadrian's Villa had dried up long before the sixteenth century, but it is
Fountains in the Villa d'Este gardens: a modern view.
interesting to reflect on how the ancient Roman love of water, expressed through the fountain,294 the nymphaeum299 or the great public bath, introduced a whole series of designs into Renaissance architecture. We might add the small mausoleum to the list. This great arsenal of motifs could be drawn on in the design of structures as diverse as garden temples and fountains, loggias and enclosed rooms, public monuments, funeral monuments and churches. The architecture of the Italian Renaissance is a new and original architecture, but it could not have existed without the example of ancient Rome.