Serlio, Sebastiano

Title Regole generali di architettura...
Imprint Venice, F. Marcolini, 1540 [1541]
Localisation University of St Andrews Library, TypIV.B40MS


Transcribed version of the text


     Three years after the 1537 princeps edition, Serlio reissued the Regoli generali at the printing shop of Marcolini in February 1540 or 1541 (following Venitian custom). While he was preparing to travel to France, he postponed his departure date a little, very probably in order to supervise the reissue of the book. He deleted Aretino’s letter to Marcolini dated September 10, 1537 and replaced the dedication to Hercules II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, with a new one addressed to Alfonso de Avalos, governor of Milan on behalf of Charles V (ff. 2r° and v°), who had rewarded him with a “tidy sum of crowns” (f. II) the previous year. As Serlio specifies, (f. 2v°), the edition was corrected (“molte correttioni”) and revised. This explains some additions (“alcune additioni”) which he took the trouble to enumerate : they concern the Doric frieze, the Doric door after Vitruvius (f. 21v°), the Ionic base, the volute in the Ionic capital, the Corinthian base and the Corinthian capital. These additions are highlighted as such on leaves 21v° and 37v°. In fact the errata from 1537 (f. 76v°) were taken into account. And the outline of the fluting of the Pegasus capital which had been added at the end was restored to its place (f. 63). But nevertheless two illustration errors were introduced, pointed out on leaves 45v° and 63v° (fireplace inversions).
     The corrections made in the original edition were the result of exchanges that Serlio had with Giuseppi Salviati, among others, in 1541 on the outline of the Ionic volute – Salviati informs us of this in the dedication of his treatise, Regola di far… la voluta e il capitello ionico (1552) –, and above all with Guillaume Philandrier who had taken his “seminar” on architecture in Venice. Philandrier recalls in his Vitruvian commentary (Annotationes, 1544, f. 137 ; 1552, ff. 154-155) that he had shared his interpretation of the passage on the “astragalum Lesbium sima scalptura” with Serlio, when he was reading the 1537 Regole generali with him (Lemerle 2000, p. 201). At that time Serlio considered Vitruvius’s text to be corrupted and proposed the interpretation “sine scalptura” whereas in 1540 he preferred the initial one, “sima scalptura” defended by Philandrier, but without citing his source.
     Marcolini reused the plates from the original edition, including for the frontispiece. The text was recomposed (including the title) and the page numbering was modified. Some presentation copies were printed on blue paper like the one at the University of Saint Andrews on line here. This new edition was all the more necessary as Pieter Coecke had published the Dutch version of the Regole generali in Antwerp in 1539 with a few corrections without Serlio’s agreement.
     Once the new edition had come out, Serlio had all the time he needed to prepare for his trip to France. He and his family arrived in the fall of 1541. He never returned to Italy. In January 1544 [1545] Marcolini republished the Regole generali with the Terzo libro.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2014


Critical bibliography

M. Carpo, La maschera e il modello. Teoria architettonica ed evangelismo nell’Extraordinario Libro di Sebastanio Serlio, Milan, Jaca Book, 1993, pp. 85-105.

F. Lemerle, Les Annotations de Guillaume Philandrier sur le De Architectura de Vitruve, Livres I à IV, Introduction, translation and commentary, Paris, Picard, 2000.

M. Morresi & A. Guerra, “Les rééditions vénitiennes des livres de Serlio”, S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon, Architecture et imprimerie, Lyons, Mémoire Active, 2004, pp. 235-245.

M. Vène, Bibliographia serliana. Catalogue des éditions imprimées des livres du trait d’architecture de Serlio (1537-1681), Paris, Picard, 2007, pp. 56-57.