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Scheda Catalogo "1620 A"

Apri Immagini Opera
Scheda aggiornata al 02-12-2021
Opera 1620 A


  • autore ignoto cinquecentesco: "in santta maria in ttresteveri", a penna sul recto in alto al centro
  • P. N. Ferri: "1620", a matita blu sul verso al centro
  • P. N. Ferri: "1620", a matita blu sul recto in basso a sinistra
  • autore ignoto di epoca antica: "2", a matita sul recto in alto a sinistra
  • autore ignoto di epoca antica: "2", a matita sul recto in basso a sinistra

Notizie storiche e critiche

Inv. 1620 A is part of a group of seven drawings of Ionic capitals (invv. 1612 A, 1619 A–1622 A, 2052 A, 2053 A) within a corpus of twenty sheets of antique Roman details by an anonymous sixteenth-century Italian hand in the circle of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. (See also the catalogue entry for inv. 829 A bis.) Pasquale Nerino Ferri describes the subject as "Capitello ionico trovato in Santa Maria in Trastevere, esattamente misurato e disegnato in tre diverse maniere", based on the inscription on the folio (card catalogue). The three drawings on the sheet are a frontal elevation, side elevation, and section of the capital, all in orthographic projection. The fragment is one of the ‘spolia’ capitals surmounting the columns of the nave of the Roman church; they were added during the 1140-1143 rebuilding of the church under Pope Innocent II (1130-43), which also included a well-known series of Ionic capitals with motifs of Isis, Serapis, and Harpocrates, identified by Christian Hülsen as originating from the Baths of Caracalla . Inv. 1620 A depicts a smaller and simpler capital from a separate group of ‘spolia’ that are probably unconnected with the ancient baths. The capital depicted in inv. 1620 A was of relatively minor interest to Renaissance architects, judging by the much larger number of drawings made of the capitals from the Baths of Caracalla. Many of these were likely copies after other drawings, since the Baths capitals were included in an older grouping of architectural detail drawings that circulated in at least eight known exemplars . In contrast, at the time of writing, only three images of this capital represented here have been identified: inv. 1620 A, a sketch tentatively attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in the Codex Strozzi (inv. 1600 A v.) and a third drawing in the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin . The last of these is almost certainly a copy after inv. 1620 A: the measurements and layout correspond almost exactly, but the Berlin sheet displays a lack of ‘ripensamenti’ and shorthand in details that suggests a drawing made after a finished work rather than a preparatory study. The right side of the Berlin sheet depicts yet a third capital type from Santa Maria in Trastevere; it does not appear in the Uffizi series and thus the original group was probably larger . What motivated such detailed and time-consuming attention to the representation of detached architectural detail elements that seem to have otherwise attracted little notice? They were formally similar among themselves and displayed relatively little unusual ornamentation, as was generally the case for drawing series of ornamental details . Furthermore an extensive amount of effort must have gone into carefully measuring the carvings: this is probably why the capitals drawn are all reasonably accessible fragments, while well-known ‘in-situ’ examples like the Coliseum are omitted. It is my hypothesis that the drawings are the result of a survey campaign to detail extant antique examples of the Ionic norm: thus capitals like the unusual Isis/Serapis examples at Santa Maria in Trastevere would have been excluded precisely for the reason that they were frequently drawn by others. The selection of the entablatures represented by this same hand seems to display a preference for Ionic elements. The Vitruvian interests of Antonio and his circle explain this strong interest in the rationalization of an Ionic order. Antonio’s brother, Giovanni Battista da Sangallo, is known to have been working on a new translation of ‘De Architectura’; the exemplar in the Biblioteca Corsiniana shows a reconstruction of the Ionic capital that looks much like these drawings . The problem of the diminution of the Ionic spiral presented not a little difficulty for Renaissance architects. It was not satisfactorily addressed until the publication of Serlio’s ‘Regole generali di architettura [...]’ in 1537; other treatises followed using a different method of construction that had roughly similar visual effects . The artist of inv. 1620 A uses a more complex version of the method described by Serlio, in which six different points within the eye of the volute generate the spiral . Antonio seems to have known a different technique that produced similar results as early as 1519, as evidenced by inv. 718 A . Thus while the method used to construct the spiral cannot definitively date the sheet, the sophistication of the construction in the hand of an otherwise little-known artist further supports a dating between the late 1530s and Antonio’s death in 1546. Inv. 1620 A and the other similar drawings by the same author stand out for their unusual combination of strict orthographic representation, exhaustive attention to measurement, and delicate treatment of volumetric modeling. The first two qualities evoke the famous triad of plan/section/elevation described in Raphael’s Letter to Leo X . In inv. 1620 A, however, there is no plan: the final drawing overlays two sections at a 90-degree angle to one another, a space-saving graphic convention that requires a fair amount of sophistication from the viewer . The high level of finish of the drawings distracts somewhat from this graphic complexity, and suggests that the attractive appearance of the drawing itself was considered as important as the information it conveyed. The drawing is a hybrid between two forms of architectural drawing: the highly-detailed measured drawing (often very inelegant formally), and the presentation or model drawing that sacrificed accuracy of measure for a more pictorial effect. It might have been intended for a publication, perhaps on the Ionic order. (Cara Rachele 2012)


  • Ferri P. N. 1885
    Ferri P. N., Indice geografico-analitico dei disegni di architettura civile e militare esistenti nella R. Galleria degli Uffizi in Firenze, Roma, 1885, pp. XL, 146
  • Bartoli A. 1914-1922
    Bartoli A., I monumenti antichi di Roma nei disegni degli Uffizi di Firenze, Roma, 1914-1922, v. VI p. 32, v. I tav. LXXXVIII fig. 158
  • Ragghianti Collobi L. 1973
    Ragghianti Collobi L., Nuove precisazioni sui disegni di architettura del "Libro" del Vasari, in Critica d'arte, XX, 130, 1973, p. 42
  • Ragghianti Collobi L. 1973
    Ragghianti Collobi L., Il "Libro de' disegni" del Vasari. Disegni di architettura, in Critica d'arte, XX, 127, 1973, p. 42
  • Scaglia G. 1995
    Scaglia G., Drawings of "Roma antica" in a Vitruvius edition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art : part III, in Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana, XXX, 1995, p. 259
  • Davies P. 2014
    Davies P., The Hidden Signature: Scale Keys in Italian Renaissance Architectural Drawings, in Pegasus, XVI, 2014, pp. 148-149 nota 32
  • Firenze 2019-2020
    Conforti C. et al., I cieli in una stanza. Soffitti lignei a Firenze e a Roma nel Rinascimento, catalogo mostra Firenze, Gallerie degli Uffizi/ Sala Edoardo Detti e Sala del Camino 2019-2020, Firenze 2019, p. 74 sotto il n. 2 (scheda a cura di Modolo M.)
  • Rosenberg P. / Barthélémy-Labeeuw L./ Delcroix M.-L./ Lumetta S. 2019
    Rosenberg P. / Barthélémy-Labeeuw L./ Delcroix M.-L./ Lumetta S., Le libro de dessins d'architecture de Giorgio Vasari de la collection de Pierre Jean Mariette, in , Les dessins italiens de la collection Mariette. Écoles italienne et espagnole, Paris ,2019, p. 1371
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