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Putting Rome into Drawing

Putting Rome into Drawing

The Lessons of Architecture and Antiquity in the Early 1500s

(p.49) Chapter Two Putting Rome into Drawing
Rome Measured and Imagined
Jessica Maier
University of Chicago Press

Chapter two addresses Raphael’s project to create measured drawings of Rome’s ruins, as recorded in his official Letter to Pope Leo X (ca. 1513-20). Although his focus was the representation of single buildings as opposed to the larger urban fabric, Raphael relied on the same surveying principles as Alberti the previous century, and his project similarly reflects his Roman context. In the early 1500s, architects and scholars came together in their quest to generate a graphic reconstruction of antiquity, with both groups turning to representational techniques that were being developed for the construction of New St. Peter’s. The only surviving evidence for Raphael’s project is textual, but the drawings of many of his colleagues and a spate of subsequent illustrated books by Sebastiano Serlio, Antonio Labacco, Bartolomeo Marliani, and others bear out his program and testify to its larger cultural relevance. In his Letter to Leo X, Raphael also formulated a theoretical stance on the value of perspective rendering vis-à-vis measured or orthogonal forms that gives insight into the Renaissance reception for these modes—hinting at a nascent association of aesthetic qualities with pictorialism, not cartography.

Keywords:   Raphael, letter, Leo X, reconstruction, New St. Peter’s, surveying, perspective, orthogonal, measured drawings, pictorialism

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