Illustrare l’historia Romana. Caratteri e finalità della ricerca antiquaria nelle opere di Bellori e Bartoli
by Mirco Modolo
Giovan Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), celebrated author of the Lives of the Artists, 1672, was also one of the most important and prolific antiquarians of Baroque Rome. Between 1666 and 1691 – in collaboration with the engraver and antiquarian Pietro Santi Bartoli (1635-1700) – Bellori pursued an ambitious and complex editorial project with the aim of spreading the study and awareness of classical antiquities. Bellori and Bartoli’s publications illustrated and commented on a huge array of ancient bas-reliefs, clay lamps, coins and paintings, and were intended as fundamental sources for antiquarians, connoisseurs and artists. Bellori saw them as instrumental in renewing contemporary artistic Roman culture as based on the example of the Antique, hence re-establishing the centrality of Rome in European art – a cultural goal already formulated in his Lives.
The study focuses on the analysis of Bellori’s iconographic approach to the Antique in the context of contemporary antiquarian debate and literature. Bellori and Bartoli’s Colonna Traiana (1672) and Scelta de’ medaglioni più rari nella biblioteca dell’eminentissimo Gasparo Carpegna (1679) are compared with Raffaele Fabretti’s Syntagma (1683) and Filippo Buonarroti’s Osservazioni Istoriche sopra alcuni medaglioni antichi (1698). Similar in terms of the typology of objects considered, these publications nonetheless show radically different approaches. While Bellori’s angle is more art historical, Fabretti and Buonarroti’s considers the physical remains of classical antiquity in terms of the study of material culture – a distinction still exemplifying the two main approaches of archaeology.
The present study also offers a close examination of the Colonna Traiana’s preparatory drawings (codex A39, Windsor Royal Library) – here firmly attributed to Bartoli – and an analysis and transcription of the manuscript of the second edition of the Scelta de’ medaglioni, preserved only partially and destined to remain unpublished (codex Ott. Lat. 2972, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana; codex CXCVIII, Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence). This visual and textual analysis reveals the closely interrelated publishing genesis of the four antiquarian works.
Title: Illustrare l’historia Romana. Caratteri e finalità della ricerca antiquaria nelle opere di Bellori e Bartoli
Author: Mirco Modolo
Series: Alti Studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco
Publisher: Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura della Compagnia di San Paolo
Pages: 318 pp.