On a table in the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, three precious antique volumes are displayed in honor of BookCity 2015. Once in the library of collectors Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi, the books represent a taste of the precious nucleus of volumes that are completely coherent with the museum’s collections and with the interests of the two brothers.
The unifying theme of the displayed volumes is the architectural treatise, here exemplified by some important works published during the 16th century and once figuring in Fausto and Giuseppe’s library in the form of first printed editions: De architectura, Regole generali, and Regola delli cinque ordini di architettura.
The De architetectura by Vitruvius (1st century B.C.), curated by Cesare Cesariano, was printed in Como in 1521 by Gottardo da Ponte. It is the first edition in Italian of the extremely famous ancient treatise. For the peculiarity of the Italian, peppered with words and turns of phrases common in Lombardy, the volume constitutes an exemplary case of the rendering of classical sources in local languages during the Renaissance. Translated, commented on and partly illustrated by the architect and painter Cesare Cesariano, and finished by Benedetto Giovio and Mauro Bono, the book has splendid illustrations of the Duomo of Milano – securely attributed to Cesariano – and 119 large engravings that underscore the importance of images as a privileged means for understanding the text.
Sebastiano Serlio, an architect from Bologna, began the publication of his treatise on architecture beginning from the fourth book – Regole generali sopra le cinque maniere degli edifici – in Venice in 1537. The volumes continued to be published out-of-sequence in various cities in Europe, even after the death of the author at Fontainebleau, France, around 1554. The work is characterized by a heightened tendency to codify architectonic rules in order to give life to a practical method that focuses on clear large-format illustrations, while the texts are often reduced to just explanatory notes.
A similar tendency to simplification and practicality is also found in the Regola delli cinque ordini di architettura by Jacopo Vignola, published in Rome in 1562. In this book, the author codifies the proportional ratios of the architectonic orders, thereby cutting ties with the various local systems of measurement. It is just this “universality” of the system that would determine its success, as also attested to by the numerous editions of the book.
Not on display, but belonging to Fausto and Giuseppe’s collection, were also other architectural treatises. In addition to L’idea dell’architettura universale (Venice, 1615) of Vincenzo Scamozzi from Vicenza, the two brothers owned Le fabbriche e i disegni di Andrea Palladio gathered and illustrated by Ottavio Bertotti Scamozzi, published in Vincenza in 1774. To these latter volumes with bilingual texts in Italian and French is entrusted the duty of testifying to the presence of the great architect and treatise writer, Andrea Palladio, in the coherent nucleus of the Bagatti Valsecchi library.
Opening days and times:
From Thursday, October 22, to Sunday, October, 25, 2015
From 1 PM to 5:45 PM
Information available in English.
Entrance fee: regular, €9.00; reduced, €6.00