BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
In the second edition which he reviewed in 1685, François Blondel comments on the list of books necessary to the architect, a list which concludes the Architecture françoise by Louis Savot : “Beyond the books on architecture that this author has named, I consider that it is not irrelevant to relate here what I have come to know about this. Firstly there is the Livre des Songes by Polyphile, written in Italian and translated into French by Jean Martin with excellent woodcuts : and that of l’amour Parfait, written in Greek they say by Athenagoras and translated into French by Mr Fumée. They are two novels, in which we see the description of several sumptuous edifices, and of course built according to Vitruvius’ doctrine, and in which we can learn very many fine particularities and grand ideas on architecture” (p. 351). Thus, almost three centuries after it first appeared in Venice, at the printing presses of Aldus Manutius, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna still occupied a place of honor in the mind of the director of the Royal Academy of Architecture, which had two copies of the book, the Italian edition of 1545 and the French translation of 1554. There was nothing surprising about that, even if the culture of a man during the 17th century in France was very distant from that of the Dominican monk at the convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. For architecture occupies considerable space in the “novel”, and the ekphraseis by Colonna (and moreover those of Martin Fumée) are exceptionally long and precise. They show, on the part of the author, a culture extremely modern for his time. An “architetto dilettante” according to Arnaldo Bruschi, perhaps Colonna contributed to the entrance of the choir in Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice (gone today). In any case, he knew Vitruvius, Pliny the Elder and Leo Battista Alberti perfectly, from whom he borrowed an architectural lexicon which was still very new in volgare in 1499, and because of this, sometimes a bit imprecise.
Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2011
S. Borsi, Polifilo architetto. Cultura architettonica e teoria artistica nell’ Hypnerotomachia Poliphili di Francesco Colonna, 1499, Rome, Officina Edizioni, 1995.
A. Bruschi, Francesco Colonna. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, A. Bruschi, C. Maltese, M. Tafuri & R. Bonelli (ed.), Scritti Rinascimentali di Architettura, Milan, Il Polifilo, 1978, pp. 145-276.
F. Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, critical edition by G. Pozzi and L. Ciaponni, 2 vols., Padua, Antenore, 1980 (1963).
F. Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, reproduction of the Aldine edition of 1499, Introduction, translation and commentary by M. Ariani and M. Gabriele, Milan, Adelphi, 1998. 2 vols.
M. Furno, "L’orthographie de la Porta triumphante dans l’Hypnerotomachia Poliphili de Francesco Colonna : un manifeste de l’architecture moderne", Mélanges de l'École Française de Rome - Italie et Méditérranée, 106, 1994-2, pp. 473-516.
S. Heringuez, "L'Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, un recueil de modèles d'architecture pour les peintres flamands du premier tiers du XVIe siècles: Bernard van Orley et la Porta Magna de Francesco Colonna", ArtItalies, La revue de l'Association des historiens de l'art italien (AHAI), 18, 2012, pp. 12-17.
L. Lefaivre, Leon Battista Alberti’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Re-Cognizing the Architectural Body in the Early Italian Renaissance, Cambridge (Mass.)/London, MIT Press, 1997.
G. Pozzi &d M. T. Casella, Francesco Colonna, biografia ed opere, Padua, Antenore, 1959.