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Giuliano da Sangallo’s Surface Architecture

Orders

The image of Renaissance architecture familiar to us, that of the rediscovery of the classical language, is deeply indebted with the explorations and taste of Giuliano da Sangallo. The architectural orders are undoubtedly the principal component of this language. However, the antique, as interpreted in Giuliano’s architecture, is not the normative language of the classical canon, which was not properly codified until the sixteenth century, and especially in Rome. Giuliano’s all’antica language is rather a rich, multifarious and vital repertory, able to offer virtually infinite variations on such components of the classical orders as the ornamentation of capitals, bases and entablatures, or other decorative motifs. It was this creative interpretation of Antiquity that gave rise to the astonishing figurative orders created by Sangallo in his finest buildings, as in Santa Maria delle Carceri at Prato or in the Sacristy of Santo Spirito in Florence. His archaeological sensibility and, at the same time, his compositional freedom can also be appreciated in all the declinations of the Composite displayed in the courtyard of the Palazzo Gondi, or in the magnificent capitals over the fluted pilasters in the Madonna dell’Umiltà at Pistoia, with flowers replaced by shells in the abacus of an otherwise canonical Corinthian. But Giuliano da Sangallo’s interpretation of the orders is also implicit in his treatment of the wall structure, which he conceived as a box-like counterpoint to the individuality of the column, a concept of undisguisedly Albertian origin. On the façades of the Palazzo Cocchi, in Florence, or of the Palazzo Rovere, at Savona, the shallow pilasters are applied to the wall as a merely decorative element, devoid of any tectonic function, while in the courtyard of the Palazzo Scala they struggle to contain the energy released by the swirling figurative reliefs with their own geometrical principle. Lastly, in the pediment of Poggio a Caiano, or in the courtyard of the former convent of Cestello, the column is liberated. It reveals its dual nature as primary support and as cultivated citation of an embellished Ionic order, derived from local models. And in each case, the grid of orthogonals plays a fundamental role: it guides the eye of the observer and the camera lens, enabling us to recognize the structures of the order that articulate and add energy to the architectural surfaces.


Prato, Santa Maria delle Carceri, pendentive of the cupola. Photo: Piero Morselli, before 1983, silver gelatin print, 23,9 x 17,7 cm, inv. no. 407081

Florence, Palazzo Gondi, column capital in the courtyard. Photo: Fratelli Alinari, before 1896, silver gelatin print, 25,1 x 18,8 cm, inv. no. 56988

Pistoia, Basilica of the Madonna dell’Umiltà, beams and capitals in the vestibule. Photo: Cristian Ceccanti, 2014, digital photograph, inv. no. 614493

Florence, Santo Spirito, vestibule of the sacristy, capital. Photo: Fratelli Alinari, before 1896, silver gelatin print, 26,2 x 19,2 cm, inv. no. 28784

Florence, Palazzo Cocchi Serristori. Photo: Ralph Lieberman, 1990, silver gelatin print, 25,3 x 20,3 cm, inv. no. 485660

Savona, Palazzo Della Rovere. Photo: Unknown photographer, before 1973, silver gelatin print, 22,4 x 14,3 cm, inv. no. 284942

Florence, Palazzo Gherardesca, former Scala, southern side of the courtyard. Photo: Paolo Bacherini, 2002, silver gelatin print, 17,7 x 23,8 cm, inv. no. 562813

Florence, Palazzo Gherardesca, former Scala, southern side of the courtyard (detail). Photo: Luigi Artini, 1982, silver gelatin print, 17,7 x 23,8 cm, inv. no. 405079

Florence, Santo Spirito, sacristy. Photo: Hilde Lotz-Bauer, before 1943, silver gelatin print, 16,8 x 11,4 cm, inv. no. 382381

Florence, Santo Spirito, sacristy. Photo: Cristian Ceccanti, 2014, digital photograph, inv. no. 614476

Prato, Santa Maria delle Carceri,. Photo: Luigi Artini, 1985, silver gelatin print, 23,8 x 17,6 cm, inv. no. 423935

Pistoia, Basilica of the Madonna dell’Umiltà. Photo: Ralph Lieberman, 1991, silver gelatin print, 25,2 x 20,3 cm, inv. no. 491623

Florence, Palazzo Gondi, staircase in the courtyard (detail). Photo: Domenico Anderson, before 1940, silver gelatin print, 26,1 x 20,1 cm, inv. no. 125825

Florence, Palazzo Gondi, courtyard. Photo: Ralph Lieberman, 1990, silver gelatin print, 20,3 x 25,2 cm, inv. no. 491591

Poggio a Caiano (Prato), Medici villa. Photo: Cristian Ceccanti, 2014, digital photograph, inv. no. 614487

Florence, Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, former Cestello, atrium (detail). Photo: Hilde Lotz-Bauer, before 1943, silver gelatin print, 23,8 x 18,1 cm, inv. no. 378062




© KHI in Florence | 18.09.2019 01:29:59