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Vignola’s ‘module’

Vignola, Giacomo Barozzi, called (1507-1573).

Regola delli cinque ordini d'architettura di M. Iacomo Barozzio da Vignola.

Vignola, Giacomo Barozzi, called (1507-1573). Regola delli cinque ordini d'architettura di M. Iacomo Barozzio da Vignola. [Rome, Stamperia della Camera Apostolica for the author, ca. 1562].

Folio (407x272 mm). [I]-XXXII leaves, all engraved on recto only, including the etched title-page after Federico Zuccaro with Vignola's portrait set within an architectural frame and the dedicatee's coat-of-arms, the privilege leaf, the dedication to Cardinal Farnese followed by the note to the reader, and twenty-nine architectural plates. Later half vellum. Smooth spine, title in gilt on lettering piece and a small paper label at the bottom bearing the inked letter ‘K'. Covers stained. A very good, wide-margined copy with strong plate impressions. Some marginal staining and foxing.

Provenance: nineteenth-century stamp with the initials ‘PB' on the recto of the front flyleaf.

$ 15,000

Rare first edition of Vignola's major treatise. Thanks to its clarity, fine layout, and subordination of already brief text to a lavish illustrative apparatus, the Regola delli cinque ordini – which, moreover, is written in Italian vernacular – enjoyed great success and its architectural tables were used for training a wide array of architects, apprentices, practicing artists and art lovers. The manual aims to illustrate a modular rule applicable to the five architectural orders, and offers an original combination of the work of Vitrivius and Serlio, Vignola's main sources. The earliest established date for the publication is 12 June 1562, the presentation copy at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence being the only one known in this earliest state, with both plates I-II unnumbered. The present copy includes the additional text (“Come è detto il mio intento […]”) below the note to the reader at fol. III as well as the additions to plates IIII-VIII, XI-XIIII, XVII-XVIII, XX, XXIIII-XXV, and XXXI, which are typical of state B. Copies in this second state may contain additional unnumbered plates (from 5 to7), depicting doors as well as the fireplace of Cardinal Farnese. The Regola is a practical manual that simply and effectively codifies the rules of classical architecture and proposes a calculation system to facilitate the constructors' task in designing and building their works in accordance with the five architectural orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Roman). Given the principle that the height and diameter of a column are two relative values which can be determined only in relation to one other, Vignola elaborates an algorithm for each architectural order that allows for the calculation of a column's thickness starting from a given height. By this method he obtains a ‘module', corresponding to the radius of the stem of the column, a unit of measurement on the basis of which he proceeds to calculate the dimensions of the other architectural elements, respecting a general rule valid for all five orders which establishes the exact proportions between pedestal, column and trabeation, independent of the different units of measurement then in use. This modular calculation was the expression of a rational architecture based on well-defined geometrical relations. The huge success of the Regola was mainly due to its practical purpose and pedagogical effectiveness, and is testified by its incredible number of reprints until the middle of the seventeenth century. In his introduction, Vignola announces the forthcoming publication of his rules of perspective, which would appear, however, only after his death in 1583.

Cicognara 416; Berlin Catalogue 2578; Fowler, 351; RIBA, pp. 2216-2217; E. Bentivoglio, “L'inganno prospettico e spaziale nel frontespizio della Editio princeps della Regola dei cinque ordini d'architettura di Giacomo Barozzi”, A.M. Affanni and P. Portoghesi (eds). Studi su Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, Roma 2007, pp. 83-90; M. Walcher Casotti, Vignola. Nel quinto centenario della nascita, Trieste 2007, pp. 151-154-159.