Libri Di Diverse Antichità Di Roma

Ian Campbell (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

The ‘Oxford Codex’ of Pirro Ligorio is actually an album comprising 180 folios of diverse material, for the most part but by no means entirely by Ligorio. The Ligorian folios, dating between the 1540s and the 1580s, include drafts of material found in more finished form in his Paris and Neapolitan codices, compiled before he left Rome in 1568, on the topography of the city of Rome and of the Campagna, especially the tombs lining the consular roads radiating from the city; on ancient dress; and on ancient religious practices. Particularly interesting is that in many cases, he continued to work on these drafts after settling in Ferrara in 1568, so that we can see when he changes his mind or adds information from sources newly available to him. Twelve folios also appear to be the greater part of the final draft of what should have been the second book of the Libro delle antichità of 1553. Why it was not published is not known but even in its incomplete state it throws new light on the Libro. Another folio is a draft from the Turin alphabetical encyclopaedia, while yet others include drawings of building projects Ligorio was concerned with such as the emergency works to the Sistine Chapel in 1564, fortifications at Civitavecchia, and buildings erected or proposed after his move to Ferrara.

In addition, there are around thirty folios not by Ligorio, although some, such as one showing ancient architectural details, were almost certainly in his possession. Others, however, including drawings of churches designed by Giovanni Battista Aleotti after Ligoro’s death, and twenty folios of a sixteenth-century Italian translation of Vitruvius, appear to have no association with him. Aleotti, who, remained in Ferrara, after the Este moved to Modena, appears to have owned the Ligorian folios, then still unbound, and began putting them into order. That, in many cases, the order has been disturbed, especially by the insertion in the middle of material unrelated to the Libri della antichità suggests it was bound after leaving Aleotti’s hands, most likely, immediately after his death in 1636. It then disappears from history until 1817, when the Bodleian Library acquired it as part of the largest single purchase of manuscripts in its history from the heirs of the Venetian Jesuit Matteo Luigi Canonici, a voracious bibliophile and art collector (1727-1807).

Recognising the preciousness of its contents, the Bodleian restricted access to the album to only those who demonstrated a need to look at the original, meaning it is far less studied than the Neapolitan and Turin codices. The present edition for the first time reveals the full complexity of this mosaic of tantalising fragments with all its lacunae and intrusions. They make it the key codex for understanding Ligorio’s corpus as a whole, and in particular, his working methods, showing that, whatever his reputation as an epigraphical forger, in his drawings of ancient buildings he is scrupulous in explaining where his recording finishes and conjecture begins.
Original languageItalian
Place of PublicationRome
PublisherDe Luca Editori dell'Arte
Number of pages360
ISBN (Print)9788865573105
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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