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Susan Guinn-Chipman - Andrew W Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship 2009

 Spaces of the Past: Spaces, Belief and Communities in the Early Modern World 

My project, titled Hebraic Imagery as Cultural Capital: Architectural Theory and Religious Confession in Early Modern Europe, explores the use of Hebraic architectural types by early modern European architectural writers for Protestant and Catholic patrons. Noted as early as Bede’s eighth-century commentaries De tabernaculo and De templo, these types fit neatly within the framework of Christian thought, offering early modern architectural theorists a means of historicizing classical pagan architecture in ways that resonated across the Reformation divide. My study compares the application these architectural types asking to what degree and in what ways religious confession informed the use of these types as cultural capital. In what ways were any similarities and differences played out in the building programs informed by these treatises? What might any differences reveal about the construction of Protestant and Catholic identities and respective notions of historical consciousness in early modern Europe?

My research at the Newberry Library during the summer of 2009 was directed towards understanding the theoretical, theological, and visual contexts underlying the use of Hebraic architectural types. I examined the illustrations of over 100 titles, including plans, diagrams, and images published in architectural treatises, theological commentaries, Bibles, maps, travel literature, and emblem books as well as over 300 individual engraved illustrations and title pages. I studied approximately 30 architectural treatises and theoretical works that looked at harmonic and architectural proportions, as derived from Old Testament precedents. John Shute’s The First & Chief Groundes of Architecture, the research for which was supported by Duke of Northumberland though it was not published until 1563, appealed to Protestants and Catholics alike. Shute’s work, clearly influenced by earlier sixteenth-century illustrated editions of Vitruvius such as Di Lucio Vitrouuio Polliane de l’Architectura Libri Dece (1521) and Vitruuii de Architectura Libri Decem (1523), rooted his history of the “science of architecture” in the Old Testament. Later works similarly crossed confessional boundaries. Vignola’s Regola delli Cinque Ordini d’Architettura (1583), which analyzed the construction of Solomonic columns such as those seen in St. Peter’s Basilica, was printed by the Puritan Joseph Moxon in 1655. Similarly, Roland Fréart’s Parallele de l'architectvre antiqve et de la moderne, which responded in detail to the question of the place of the Temple of Solomon in the evolution of architectural orders, was translated by Anglican John Evelyn (A Parallel of the Antient Architecture with the Modern, 1664). More intensive interest in the historic place of Hebraic architectural types came in the form of Claude Perrault’s illustrations of the temple itself for Louis Compiègne de Veil’s translation of the Code of Maimonides, first published in Paris in 1678 (reprinted in Blasius Ugolinus’ Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum, 1747) and Isaac Newton’s The Chronology of Antient Kingdoms Amended (1728). My study of the architectural treatises held at the Newberry Library shed light on a high degree of intellectual exchange between those of contrasting religious views.

 These architectural treatises drew upon an extensive theological tradition. My research in this area included 65 works focused more closely on the religious symbolism underlying Old Testament architectural types as seen in woodcuts and engravings in Bibles, theological commentaries, travel accounts, and maps and plans of the ancient Middle East, a number of the latter held in the Edward E. Ayer and the Franco Novacco Collections. Interest in these types clearly pre-dated the Reformation. Woodcuts of the temple of Jerusalem as built by Solomon and envisioned by Ezechiel, illustrated in Nicholas of Lyra’s Postillae Perpetuae, had been published by Koberger (1481). During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both Protestant and Catholic Bibles retained this practice. Illustrations by François Vatable, a teacher of Hebrew in Paris, were published by the Protestant-leaning Robert Estienne in 1540, then reused in English, French, and Italian language publications of the Geneva Bible through the early seventeenth century (Geneva 1557; 1562; 1567; and London, 1576, for example). These influenced later architectural renderings by Perrault. In the decades following the Council of Trent, interpretations by Catholic scholars influenced both Catholic and Protestant authors alike. The work of Benedictus Arias Montanus, editor of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1569), who viewed Old Testament architectural types as historically rooted, was influential in that of Anglican churchman and historian Thomas Fuller’s A Pisgah-sight of Palestine (1650). Interpretations by Juan Baptista Villalpandus, who conversely emphasized the mystical characteristics of the temple as seen by Ezechiel (In Ezechielem Explanationes et Apparatus Urbis ac Templi Hierosolymitani, 1605), were later published by Anglican clergyman Brian Walton in Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (1657). Works by John Mead (Clavis Apocalyptica, 1650), John Lightfoot (The Temple Especially as it Stood in the Days of Our Savior, 1650), and Samuel Lee (Orbis Miraculum, or, The Temple of Solomon, 1659) demonstrate the relevance of Hebraic architecture to seventeenth-century Puritans, who held both historical and millenarian interest in these types. The extensive collections of theological works held at the Newberry Library have proven essential in helping to determine not only the degree of intellectual interdependence between architectural and theological writers but also the degree of exchange among those across the religious spectrum.

A further line of my research was more strictly iconographical, aimed at determining whether visual representations of Old Testament types varied typologically across religious and/or geographic lines. I examined 16 emblem books, produced by Catholic authors such Geronimo Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (1593), Jan van der Straet’s Encomium Musices (ca. 1600), and Jan David’s Paradisvs Sponsi et Sponsae (1618), and works produced by Protestant writers such as Calvinist Theodore Beza’s Icones (1580), Jean Jacques Boissard’s Emblematvm Liber (1588), Gabriel Rollenhagen’s Nvclevs Emblematvm Selectissimorvum (1611), and Puritan George Wither’s A Collection of Emblems (1635). I similarly studied two collections of title pages and engravings which, like many of the texts and Bibles consulted, are part of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing. Comparison of representations of Hebraic imagery by Continental and English publishers, made possible by the study of these collections, has been particularly helpful in my exploration of the degree to which iconographical variation of this imagery was shaped by religious doctrine.

Preliminary findings made possible by this Mellon Visiting Research Fellowship in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the Newberry Library suggest an underlying reliance on Hebraic architectural types adopted and transformed to suit the religious, cultural, and intellectual climate of late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe by both Protestant and Catholic authors. Two periods indicated a heightened dependence: during the last decades of the sixteenth century primarily by Continental, Jesuit authors and, during the final years of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth by both Puritan and Anglican authors. The overriding impression is nevertheless one of a high degree of theoretical, theological, and visual exchange among scholars of contrasting religious views.


Susan Guinn-Chipman

Susan Guinn-Chipman




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