“The classical tradition meanders in and out of the history of architecture, sometimes looping back upon itself as if to suggest that time has stood still,” Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey notes at the opening of Hawksmoor's London Churches: Architecture and Theology.1 In that book, du Prey explores how the buildings of the early Christians, although known to Nicholas Hawksmoor only through texts and drawings, inspired the idiosyncratic Anglican churches that Hawksmoor designed in the early eighteenth century. The question of renewed relevance that underpins du Prey's Hawksmoor study, as well as much of his other work, also ties together the sixteen essays of Tributes to Pierre du Prey, edited by Matthew M. Reeve. One of the strengths of this Festschrift is its coherence.
An opening essay by Mark Wilson Jones lays out the stakes by posing a dual question: Why do the orders have the forms that they do, and why has that problem proven so intriguing for writers from Vitruvius to the present? He then surveys the various possible origins of three architectural elements—fluting, the Ionic capital, and the Doric frieze—to argue for a multivalent understanding of the orders. Although no single justification for the architectural form of the orders has been produced, Wilson Jones asserts that contradictory explanations can reinforce each other rather than cancel each other out.
The title of Guy P. R. Métraux's essay, “Some Other Literary Villas of Roman Antiquity besides Pliny's,” recalls du Prey's book The Villas of Pliny from Antiquity to Posterity, a magisterial examination of the influence of Pliny the Younger's letters on country house design.2 Métraux supplies context for Pliny's letters, which describe Tuscan and Laurentine villas, by describing the letters of Seneca the Younger, written about forty years before Pliny's, and of Sidonius Apollinaris, written four centuries later. In placing Pliny within a broader ekphrastic tradition, Métraux shows how his letters belonged to but also criticized an epistolary genre. Mistakes of historical interpretation have fascinated architectural historians for so long that they have become their own genre: the Florentine Baptistery, an eleventh-century building that was believed in the Renaissance to be an ancient Roman temple, is the canonical example. In “The Tempietto del Clitunno and San Salvatore near Spoleto: Ancient Roman Imperial Columnar Display in Medieval Contexts,” Judson J. Emerick considers two other early medieval Christian buildings that have been similarly misinterpreted as ancient, including by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and by Francesco di Giorgio. But Emerick does not end his story in the Renaissance; he discusses more recent efforts to place (or misplace) the buildings near Spoleto within particular historical contexts, in order to critique the practice of periodization itself as the most fundamental type of misinterpretation. Eric Fernie's essay, “Romanesque Historiography and the Classical Tradition,” reinforces this point. Fernie charts the meanings of the terms romanesco and romanesque as they have been applied variously for half a millennium.
The next two essays examine cases of formal recircling, or episodes in which specific architectural tropes have been deployed as explicit references to their own historical legacies. John Beldon Scott's “Uses of the Past: Charles V's Roman Triumph and Its Legacy” traces the route of the Holy Roman emperor's entry into Rome that took place on 5 April 1536. Modeled on an ancient triumph, the event is the last one counted in Onofrio Panvinio's 1557 chronology of Roman triumphs, a list that begins with Romulus. Scott shows how after the city of Rome was reshaped around the particular event of Charles V's entry, the practice of the possesso, the papal triumph in which a new pope proceeds from Saint Peter's to the Lateran, developed in response. Examining a set of events that took place on a single site over the next four centuries, he demonstrates how physical strata also accumulate the metaphorical weight of political overtones. For Scott, the possesso becomes the “living link” between Charles V's triumph and Hitler's entry into Rome in 1938. In “Classicism in a Rococo World: Steadfastness and Compromise in Late Colonial South America,” Gauvin Alexander Bailey considers how the orders themselves constituted another kind of link when certain forms popular in sixteenth-century Roman architectural practice were reused in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century South America. Focusing on projects by Giovanni Andrea Bianchi (1676–1740), who traveled from Rome to Argentina, and Giovanni Battista Primoli (1673–1747), who worked on the Paraguay Reductions, or mission towns, Bailey asks why models that were by then out of date in Rome, such as Serlio's Doric order, were applied to new church façades. He argues that these models, rather than referring to specific historical moments, refer to “a more generic Golden Age,” that is, to Augustan Rome at the time of Christ's birth (107).
Sally Hickson considers another shift in meaning in “Girolamo Porro: Engraver and Publisher in Venice,” which addresses the aims of sixteenth-century Venetian cartographic practices. Her point of departure is a quotation from Tommaso Porcacchi, who described his collaborator Porro as possessing “the most acute eye, but of imperfect vision.” Porro worked as an engraver on L'isole piu famose del mondo (1572) and the Funerali antichi diversi popoli et nationi (1574), both encyclopedic publications that, as Hickson argues, “operated as mirrors of the world, painstakingly indexed and represented … but imperfectly seen and comprehended when viewed through the controlling eye of Venice itself” (114). Her meditation on the aims of geographic representation is followed by Una Roman D'Elia's “Acanthus Leaves and Ostrich Feathers: Claude Perrault, Tradition, and Innovation in Architectural Language,” an essay that in many ways fulfills Wilson Jones's request for more elastic considerations of the orders and their origins. D'Elia investigates Perrault's decision to decorate the Corinthian capital of his French order with ostrich feathers rather than with the more traditional acanthus leaves. She provides a rich background for that curious choice, including the anatomical studies that Perrault performed at the Académie des Sciences as well as the historical associations of the ostrich feather itself, from the book of Job to Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Each of two further essays contextualizes a pair of previously unpublished drawings within an architect's career. In “Classical Themes and Creative Variations from the Sixteenth Century: Two Unpublished Drawings of Palace Façades Related to Giulio Romano,” David McTavish examines drawings that once formed part of Cassiano dal Pozzo's Museo Cartaceo and tentatively attributes them to Jacopo Strada. He associates one drawing with the Palazzo Te in Mantua and describes the other as a related façade design that also recalls Raphael's destroyed Palazzo dell'Aquila. Janina Knight, in “Two Drawings by Giovanni Battista Montano in the Canadian Centre for Architecture,” places drawings of reconstructed Roman tombs within Montano's oeuvre. She discusses the architect's antiquarian activities as the basis for his imaginative graphic reformulations of ancient monuments in drawings that merge the real and the fictive.
As John Pinto points out in “Ruins and Restitution: Eighteenth-Century Architects and Antiquity in the Bay of Naples,” du Prey's work continually explores how the reconstruction of the ancient world has served as an architectural design brief. Rather than using an ancient text as his starting point, as du Prey does in The Villas of Pliny, Pinto begins with an ancient site, considering how Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Hubert Robert, among others, responded to a set of ruins near Pozzuoli. He describes their various representations of these fragmentary remains as embodying a tension between two modes: positivist documentation of a fundamentally archaeological type and inventive restoration of a more subjective nature. Pinto discusses each architectural response as a calibrated combination of these two, demonstrating how topographical drawing itself can reflect an entire worldview privileging both accuracy and imagination. Matthew Reeve structures his essay, “‘A Gothic Vatican of Greece and Rome’: Horace Walpole, Strawberry Hill, and the Narratives of Gothic,” around a similar theme of evocative restoration. He describes the setting of Walpole's novel The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1764–65) as a “literary double identity for his house,” the villa Strawberry Hill at Twickenham (189). Reeve emphasizes the experiential character of both the novel and the house, explaining how narrative works in textual and spatial contexts to dismantle anticipated formal hierarchies.
Essays by Peter Coffman and Luc Noppen examine the architecture of Canada, another topic that has been central to du Prey's career. In “The Gibbsian Tradition in Nova Scotia,” Coffman follows the United Empire Loyalists, who, as part of a wave of reaction against the revolution in the American colonies, settled in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As these British loyalists established their presence in their new homeland, they sought an architectural language that would signal their anti-republican ideology. This meant erecting churches modeled on James Gibbs's St Martin-in-the-Fields (1721–26) of London, which in the previous half century had become the archetype for Church of England parish buildings. By the end of the eighteenth century, Coffman explains, republican dissent already had an identifiable architectural identity, embodied by the Protestant meeting house (214). In following the Gibbsian model for their own churches, loyalists used the standard visual code of Anglican theological presence, which at that time had become synonymous with the English government's presence. Coffman's case studies demonstrate how, in this reactionary climate, even the most basic aspects of theological space assumed the functions of political symbols. In “Thomas Baillairgé and Victor Bourgeau: Architects, Architectural Practice, and the Nineteenth-Century French-Canadian Church in Quebec,” Noppen also takes an oppositional approach to his subjects. Although Baillairgé and Bourgeau have been positioned in the past as paradigmatic of a Quebec City–Montreal cultural rivalry, Noppen discusses them not as antagonists but rather as products of two different professional paths, one a formally trained draftsman, the other an unschooled carpenter.
Two essays on modern appropriations of the classical tradition round out the volume. Sebastian Schütze, in “The Stadio dei Marmi in Rome: Inventing a Classical Stage for the Colossal Heroes of Fascist Italy,” discusses the sculptural program of the stadium of the Accademia Nazionale Fascista di Educazione Fisica in Rome as the embodiment of the uomo fascista. Completed between 1930 and 1938, the figures arranged around the stadium boundary referenced the forms of older sculptural traditions, from antiquity to Michelangelo and Bandinelli, to create new ideals of modern athletes. Schütze uses historical photographs to show that through the figures’ monumental scale and low placement, statues and spectators stood nearly on the same level. “The aggressive, archetypal new man is presented on the classicizing stage of the stadium,” Schütze writes, “thus apparently linked with, and legitimated by, tradition” (253). Attempts to legitimate Fascist ideology through aesthetic analogies to the classical tradition made that tradition anathema to an entire generation of postwar architects, as Phyllis Lambert observes in her essay, “Mies Klassizismus: Some Notes.” In a series of case studies, she examines the internal battle that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe waged against his predecessors, particularly Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Peter Behrens, as emblematic of a larger conflict about the role of historical models in modernism.
In a postlude, du Prey writes of his own predecessors, from his mentor Donald Drew Egbert to his contemporary Robert Venturi. He thus situates himself within the classical tradition that the essays in his honor explore. In their range, these essays will interest a wide swath of JSAH readers. For this above all, the volume serves as a fitting tribute to Pierre du Prey, whose own exemplary scholarship has spanned eras.
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