Baldi, Bernardino,
Barbaro, Daniele
Goldmann, Nicolaus
Philandrier, Guillaume
Scamozzi, Vicenzo
Wotton, Henry, et alii

M. Vitruvii Pollionis De architectura... Cum notis, castigationibus et observationibus Guilielmi Philandriis ; Danielis Barbari excerptis...
Imprint Amsterdam, L. Elzevir, 1649
Localisation Besançon, Bibliothèque municipale, 66878
Subject Architecture
Transcribed version of the text


     This composite work published in 1649 by Johannes de Laet, a professor at the University of Leyden and director of the Dutch East India Company (1581-1649), combines Vitruvius' De architectura with various texts more or less linked to Vitruvius and to architecture.  After the dedication to Queen Christina of Sweden and the headword, de Laet printed his own Latin translation of the Elements of architecture by Henry Wotton, which had come out for the first time in London in 1624.  He continued with the edition of Vitruvius published in the enlarged version of 1552 by Jean de Tournes in Lyon with the Annotationes by Guillaume Philandrier which he took up wholly in his abundant commentary of footnotes, as well as the Epitome from the treatise on weights and measures by Georg Bauer, also known as Agricola (De mensuris et ponderibus Romanorum atque Græcorum), written by the same Philandrier.  He also relied on Barbaro's commentary, the Plinianæ exercitationes in Caii Julii Solini Polyhistoria (1629) by Claude Saumaise, his colleague at the university, and the works of the Hellenist and historian Gerardus Joannes Vossius.  The book continues with unpublished notes by the mathematician and music historian Marcus Meibom on Vitruvius and his music theory, with an essay, also unpublished, by the mathematician Nicolaus Goldmann on the Ionic volute and with the Greek and Latin indices on De architectura and the Annotationes taken from Philandrier.  Then come the De verborum Vitruvianorum significatione and the Scamilli impares Vitruviani by Bernardino Baldi, books published in Augsburg in 1612.  At the end there is a passage from chapter 8 of Scamozzi's book VI (L'idea della architettura universale, 1615). And also, added to all these texts presented as the "must read list" of Vitruvian and architectural literature, are Alberti's De pictura, extracts of the De sculptura by Pomponius Gauricus, the commentary by Louis de Montjosieu on the sculpture and painting of the Ancients (Commentarius de sculptura, cælatura, scalptura, et pictura antiquorum, 1602), and finally a brief commentary by Claude Saumaise on two passages by Solin and a general index.
As eclectic as this voluminous general survey is (577 p.), it constitutes in fact the first complete edition of Vitruvius published in Holland.  It is not at all surprising that it takes up the text of the De architectura published in 1552 by the publisher Jean I Tournes from Lyon, split up in books and chapters followed by Philandrier's Annotationes in their enlarged version (a posthumous edition appeared in 1586).  The Frenchman whose portrait had been engraved by Philippe Galle beside Petrarch, Il Poliziano, Marcilio Ficino, Thomas More, Erasmus, Alciati and Budé (Virorum doctorum de disciplinis bene merentium effigies XLIIII, Antwerp, 1572, 33), probably represented to Johannes de Laet the perfect figure of the antiquarian humanist.  Nevertheless de Laet didn't hesitate to delete a goodly number of Philandrier's illustrations in his commentary.  On the other hand he reproduced with all its woodcuts the Digression on the orders (Digressio utilissima...), consecrating it in that way as a Vitruvian reference par excellence.  The whole book written in Latin is obviously meant for students who were curious about antique culture.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2010


Critical bibliography

F. Lemerle, Les Annotations de Guillaume Philandrier sur le De architectura de Vitruve, Livres I à IV, Introduction, translation, commentary and edition of the 1552 text in facsimile, Paris, Picard, 2000.

F. Lemerle, Les Annotations de Guillaume Philandrier sur le De architectura de Vitruve, Livres V à VII, Introduction, translation, commentary and edition of the 1552 text 1552 in facsimile, Paris, Garnier, 2011.

K. A. Ottenheym, "De Vitruvius-uitgave van Johannes de Laet (1649)", Bulletin of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Oudheidkundige Bond, 97, 2, 1998, pp. 69-76.

K. A. Ottenheym, "The Vitruvius edition, 1649, of Johannes de Laet (1581-1649)", LIAS, 25, 1998-2, pp. 217-229.