2023 SCSC Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD
IAS-Sponsored Session

Antiquarianism and the Image of Rome I

Thursday, October 26, 2023, 1:30-3:00 PM

Chair and Organizer: Catharine Wallace, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Organizer: Jasmine R. Cloud, University of Central Missouri

The juxtaposition of modern Rome with the vestiges of its lengthy history still stirs the spirit of twenty first-century visitors, just as it did Petrarch, Poggio Bracciolini, and Raphael. Representing this lived experience occupied early modern writers and artists across media, from paintings to spatial reconstructions. Antiquarians frequently relied upon visualizations of the city, whether in drawn city views or printed maps. The artists who depicted Rome’s urban form looked to the work of antiquarians to bolster the authority of their representations. This artistic and intellectual culture resulted in many figures occupying both categories of study, including Baldassare Peruzzi, Sebastiano Serlio, and Pirro Ligorio. This trio of sessions will examine images of Rome, in ink, print, and marble, with a special consideration of their role in antiquarianism: as purveyors of all’antica knowledge, in their roles establishing a fixed image of antiquarian discovery, and as collectibles for those seeking their own memento of the Eternal City’s long history. For scholars today, exploration of these images through digital technologies continues the work of our early modern protagonists by visualizing the city and providing twenty-first-century access to the complexity of Rome’s long history. The papers in these sessions will consider the production of such images, connections with classical texts, antiquarian values, and the multiplicity of Rome’s pasts. Presenting a variety of methodologies, including three digital projects related to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century views of Rome, these sessions will illustrate the complexity of reviving and re-inventing the past in the construction of an early modern Roman identity.


Arthur J. DiFuria, Savannah College of Art and Design
“A Working Theory of The Fluid Vista: The Antiquarian Ruinscape, Collection, and Display”

The alleged documentary reality of sixteenth-century drawings portraying the Roman “ruinscape” lives among several overlapping concerns. The phrase “drawn from life,” for example, foregrounds the notion that such drawings show pictorial, visual truths. More broadly, the medium of drawing itself possesses a perceived immediacy; even a highly finished work’s status as a drawing suggests its “in-the-moment” aura, its fidelity to the “real.” However, comparisons of many views of Rome’s ruins with the topographical truths – scientifically discerned, found on site – suggest deliberate lapses: monuments appear in altered conditions or in different places in relation to one another. Furthering a book project on landscape’s sixteenth-century emergence as a rhetorically potent genre, this paper reconciles the apparent divergences described above. At the enriched interstices of documentation, invention, the rise of antiquarianism and collecting, sixteenth century Rome’s everchanging topography, and the impetus to inventions all’antica, the Roman “ruinscape” bears a “fluid vista” promoting artistry, but not exclusively or primarily. In a tenuous relation with “reality,” thematizing the ruin’s ephemerality, such images picture destabilized landscapes, refashioning them as collections of antiquities for antiquarian collectors eager to engage evolving interpretations of antiquity. They do so in response to the lived landscape’s status as a fluid text document.

Ryan E. Gregg, Webster University
“City Views all’antica: The Poetics of Anton van den Wyngaerde’s Rome from the Quirinal and His Lost Florence”

Anton van den Wyngaerde (c. 1490–1571) traveled in Charles V’s train as the emperor journeyed north through the Italian peninsula in 1535–36. The artist’s views of Naples and Rome record the settings of Charles’ triumphal entries, which transformed those urban environments into demonstrations of imperial hegemony. Van den Wyngaerde’s lost view of Florence similarly originated from the emperor’s entry into that city on 29 April 1536. Its appearance is mostly preserved in Hieronymus Cock’s (1518–70) engraved Florentia published in 1557. A comparison of Cock’s Florence with van den Wyngaerde’s View of Rome from the Quirinal indicates changing intentions due to different subjects. Rome emphasizes the city’s ruins; Florence presents a tidier, more modern city. Both van den Wyngaerde’s Florence and Rome reference a past, then, but different pasts for different effects: a Republican Florence brought into the Imperial fold as opposed to Charles’ renovatio of the Roman Empire. Rome, however, appears faithful to the city’s topography, reflecting van den Wyngaerde’s famed naturalism, while Florence is full of topographical errors. These differences reflect contemporary political rhetoric, but also Aristotle’s views on imitation in the Poetics. As van den Wyngaerde created his artworks in imitation of both the natural world and the ancient Roman painter Studius, the city view artist also incorporated Aristotelian recommendations for mimesis. More than just representations ad vivum, van den Wyngaerde presented us with poetic portrayals of the world, and the opportunity to consider city views a genre all’antica.

Nicola Camerlenghi, Dartmouth College
“Mapping Renaissance Rome”

This project combines scholarly and computational methods to create a 3D map of Rome’s most prominent vertical features: the towers, bell towers, repurposed ruins, and hills that dominated the skyline during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Working with original sources such as the mid-sixteenth-century panoramic vedute by van Heemskerck and Wyngaerde and ichnographic maps such as Bufalini (1551), Tempesta (1593) and Nolli (1748), the multi-year project employs the technique of reverse projection to develop an unprecedented cartographic representation of the Early Modern city. With a completed map, the goal will turn to explore the interconnectedness of sight and sound, topography and movement, ritual and tradition, in order to recapture the urban network of forms inspired by matters of symbolism, surveillance, status, and power.

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