Ancient granite columns have been a pervasive element in the architecture of Rome since the Imperial era. However, in the fifteenth century, just as the effort to revive Antiquity intensified, these ubiquitous and durable ancient columns fell out of use. It was instead the stone travertine that became the columnar material of choice. Yet, just as quickly as this change occurred, within an exceptionally short period of thirty years, beginning with the construction of the Palazzo della Cancelleria courtyard, Rome saw a renascence in their application. While little has been made of this material shift, this article argues that the sudden extensive employment of spoliated granite columns was a crucial component in the recovery of a distinctly local Roman Antiquity. It was through the use and transformation of spolia that builders and patrons attempted to create an architecture that not only recalled Antiquity, but resubstantiated it, literally making it whole again.
1 The word ‘granite’ derives from the Latin granum, meaning grain, and refers to the stone's granular appearance. The ancient Romans classified all stones that could take a polish as marble (marmor). More specifically, granite from Mons Claudianus was known as marmor claudianum, although red Aswan granite was referred to by its Greek name lithos/lapis pyrrhopoecilos. The Italian word granito only came into widespread use in the fifteenth century; see Gnoli, Raniero, Marmora romana, 2nd edn (Rome, 1988), pp. 145–46.
2 Three types of Egyptian granite were widely exploited by the Romans: granito del foro from the Mons Claudianus in remote eastern Egypt, granito bigio from Syene (modern day Aswan) and granito rosso also from Syene. The use of Mons Claudianus grey granite was confined almost exclusively in Rome itself, suggesting it was part of an imperial monopoly; see Peacock, David P.S., Williams-Thorpe, Olwen, Thorpe, R.S. and Tindle, A.G., ‘Characterisation Studies and the Use of Mons Claudianus Granodiorite’, in Mons Claudianus: Survey and Excavation, 1987–1993, ed. Peacock, David P.S. and Maxfield, Valerie A., 4 vols (Le Caire, 1997), I Topography and Quarries, pp. 315–37 (pp. 333–34); and Klemm, Rosemarie and Klemm, Dietrich D., Stones and Quarries in Ancient Egypt (London, 2008), pp. 233–67, 280–90. On ancient granite in general, see Vasari, Giorgio, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettori, ed. Milanesi, Gaetano, 9 vols (Florence, 1878–85), I, pp. 115–17; del Riccio, Agostino, Istoria delle pietre, ed. Barocchi, Paola (Florence, 1979), pp. 90–94 ; Gnoli, Marmora romana, pp. 145–61; Galetti, G., Lazzarini, L. and Maggetti, M., ‘A First Characterization of the Most Important Granites Used in Antiquity’, in Ancient Stones: Quarrying, Trade and Provenance, ed. Waelkens, Marc and others (Leuven, 1992), pp. 167–73; Williams-Thorpe, Olwen, ‘A Thousand and One Columns: Observations on the Roman Granite Trade in the Mediterranean Area’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 27, no. 1 (2008), pp. 73–89 .
3 According to Corsi's 1833 catalogue of over 6000 still-standing ancient columns in Rome, well over half are granite; see Corsi, Faustino, Delle pietre antiche, 2nd edn (Rome, 1833), pp. 293–385 .
4 On the decline of the Roman marble industry, see Waelkens, Marc, ‘Marble’, in Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World, ed. Bowersock, G.W. and others (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 559–62. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, granite continued to be quarried to a limited extent at a Roman quarries on Elba and Giglio as well as in alpine northern Italy, but there is no evidence that this stone ever made its way to Rome; see Rodolico, Francesco, Le pietre delle cittá d'Italia (Florence, 1953), pp. 355–81. On quarrying in the medieval period, see Greenhalgh, Michael, Marble Past, Monumental Present: Building with Antiquities in the Mediaeval Mediterranean (Leiden, 2009), pp. 89–140 .
5 For an overview of the vast literature on spolia, see Kinney, Dale, ‘The Concept of Spolia ’, in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, ed. Rudolph, Conrad (Oxford, 2008), pp. 239–49.
6 Egyptian red and grey granite measure seven on the Mohs scale, making it harder than many other types of granite, but softer than porphyry and emery. In general, stone when first quarried contains moisture known as quarry-sap. As this moisture is drawn out, in a process known as seasoning, the stone becomes harder. At the same time, as the moisture leaves the stone, salts and other minerals are deposited on the surface creating a hard outer shell, known as case-hardening. With granite, which is denser than most stones and therefore contains significantly less moisture, case-hardening is caused primarily by chemical reactions that occur between the outer surface of the stone and the air; see Baker, Ira Osborn, A Treatise on Masonry Construction, 9th edn (New York, 1905), p. 18 ; Ashurst, John and Dimes, Francis G., Conservation of Building and Decorative Stone (Oxford, 1998), p. 33 .
7 Vasari, Giorgio, Vasari on Technique, ed. Brown, G. Baldwin, trans. Maclehose, Louisa S. (New York, 1960), pp. 40–41 ; Vasari, Le vite, I, pp. 116–17: ‘E vedesi che nella cava, quando si taglia, è più tenero assai che quando è stato cavato, e che vi si lavora con più facilità […] Che per la durezza e saldezza loro non hanno temuto fuoco nè ferro, et il tempo istesso che tutte le cose caccia a terra, non solamente non le ha distrutte, ma neppur cangiato il colore’.
8 On the history of tempering, see Butters, Suzanne B., The Triumph of Vulcan: Sculptors' Tools, Porphyry and the Prince in Ducal Florence (Florence, 1996).
9 Ibid., pp. 121, 172 and 290. Even today, granite remains a difficult material to work by hand with modern chisels. A beginners' handbook on sculpture for instance advises, ‘I have known many fledgling who have given up sculpture […] because too early in their careers they ran afoul a piece of granite. I do not approve of granite as a medium for beginners': Slobodkin, Louis, Sculpture: Principles and Practice (New York, 1973), p. 131 . While granite continued to be quarried to some extent on Elba and Giglio and in the Dolomites, this softer granite fresh from the quarries, unlike its ancient Egyptian counterpart, probably did not necessitate the use of special tempered chisels. Nor does this type of stone seem to have been extensively exported. It was only at the end of the sixteenth century that large granite monoliths quarried on Giglio were exported to Naples for use in the Church of the Gerolamini.
10 According to a statistical study by Albert van Stekelenburg, the use of spoliated granite columns in Rome significantly increased over the course of the medieval period. Only 25% of the columns in extant churches built between the fourth and sixth centuries were made of granite, a proportion that increased in the seventh and eighth centuries to 61%, and by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries reached 69%; Van Stekelenburg, Albert V., ‘Some Statistics Regarding the Spolia Columns in the Christian Basilicas of Rome’, Mededelingen van het Nederlands Instituut te Rome, 51/52 (1992–93), pp. 114–21.
11 For an overview on the production and use of travertine in ancient Rome, see Jackson, Marie and Marra, Fabrizio, ‘Roman Stone Masonry: Volcanic Foundations of the Ancient City’, American Journal of Archaeology, 110 (2006), pp. 403–36.
12 Barclay Lloyd, J.E., ‘Masonry Techniques in Medieval Rome, c. 1080–c. 1300’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 53 (1985), pp. 225–77; Marta, Roberto, Tecnica costruttiva a Roma nel Medioevo (Rome, 1989); Esposito, Daniela, Tecniche costruttive murarie medievali: murature ‘a tufelli’ in area romana (Rome, 1998).
13 While there are records of stone being moved by means of barge for the construction of the tribune of Nicholas V at St Peter's, the type of stone and its origin is not specified. In the early sixteenth century, spurred by the construction of new St Peter's, Julius II opened a travertine quarry in Fiano Romano. Later, according to a breve issued in 1519, Leo X agreed to donate salt annually to the town of Tivoli in compensation for travertine extracted in its territory. Nevertheless, travertine continued to be spoliated throughout the sixteenth century as much of this newly quarried stone was burned for lime; see Müntz, Eugène, ‘Les monuments antiques de Rome au XVe siècle’, Révue archéologique, 2, no. 32 (1876), pp. 158–75 (pp. 170 and 172); Ait, Ivana and Piñeiro, Manuel Vaquero, Dai casali alla fabbrica di San Pietro: i Leni uomini d'affari del rinascimento (Rome, 2000), pp. 176–90.
14 The humanists Giovanni Antonio Campano and Raffaelo Maffei, for example, both celebrated Sixtus IV for transforming a city of brick into stone, just like Augustus before him; see Lee, Egmont, Sixtus IV and Men of Letters (Rome, 1978), pp. 123–24.
15 Additionally travertine was used for the interiors of S. Maria del Popolo and S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli (consecrated 1458). It also supplanted traditional stuccoed brick for the Palazzo della Cancelleria (façade completed c. 1496), Palazzo Castellesi-Giraud (façade completed c. 1504) and, to a lesser extent, for the Palazzo Santacroce (c. 1500).
16 The exceptions are the cloister of S. Pietro in Vincoli (begun 1484), the courtyard of the Palazzo della Rovere at SS. Apostoli (finished 1501) and the Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj (begun 1505). Cylindrical columns were also used above octagonal columns for the portico of SS. Apostoli and the Palazzetto of the Palazzo Venezia.
17 Octagonal columns can also been seen in the Castello della Crescenza north of the city and the Castello Orsini in Bracciano.
18 Octagonal columns, while most common in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Tuscan architecture, were also used in a handful of early fifteenth-century Florentine structures. They are also found in some later buildings such as the Castel Nuovo and the Palazzo Carafa in Naples, the Palazzo delle Papesse and the cloisters of S. Domenico in Siena, the cloister of Spoleto Cathedral, Perugia Cathedral, Ascoli Piceno Cathedral, the Palazzo Apostolico in Bologna, the choir screen of S. Rocco in Vicenza, and S. Maria della Pace and the cloister of S. Maria del Gesù in Milan.
19 See for example Tomei, Piero, L'architettura a Roma nel Quattrocento (Rome, 1942), pp. 156–57; Valtieri, Simonetta, ‘L'architettura a Roma nel XV secolo: l'Antico come ‘imitazione’ e come ‘interpretazione’ nel suo processo formative ed evolutivo’, in Roma, centro ideale della cultura nei secoli XV e XVI: da Martino V al Sacco di Roma, 1417–1527, ed. Squarzina, Silvia Danesi (Milan, 1989), pp. 257–68 (p. 261); Pagliara, Pier Nicola, ‘Costruire a Roma tra Quattrocento e Cinquecento: note su continuità ed innovazioni’, in Storia dell'architettura come storia delle tecniche costruttive: esperienze rinascimentali a confronto, ed. Ricci, Maurizio (Venice, 2007), pp. 25–73 (pp. 36 and42); Bruschi, Arnaldo, ‘Le vicende della chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio e qualche nota sui problemi storiografici dell'architettura romana del Quattrocento’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura, 51 (2008), pp. 17–34 (p. 26).
20 The octagonal columns of the Palazzo Sforza-Cesarini were originally brick but were replaced with travertine blocks in the nineteenth century; see Frommel, Christoph L., ‘Il Palazzo Sforza Cesarini nel Rinascimento’, in Palazzo Sforza Cesarini, ed. Calabrese, Lucia (Rome, 2008), pp. 23–44 (p. 34). Brick octagonal columns continued to be used to a limited degree after the 1460s and are found in SS. Nereo ed Achilleo, the Chiostro dei Nobili of the Ospedale di S. Spirito, the cloister of S. Cosimato, the Palazzo Domenico della Rovere, the villa of La Magliana and the Villa Sinibaldi.
21 Five surviving construction documents dated between 1466 and 1467 explicitly note that travertine was procured from the Colosseum; see Zippel, Giuseppe, ‘Paolo II e l'arte: note e documenti’, L'arte, 13 (1910), pp. 241–58 (p. 246); Lanciani, Rodolfo A., Storia degli scavi di Roma e notizie intorno le collezioni romane di antichità, 4 vols (Rome, 1902–13), I, p. 71 ; see also Paolo Giovio, Historiarum, in Opera, ed. Dante Visconti (Rome: 1957), p. 51; Vasari, Le vite, II, p. 472; Alfonso Chacón, Vitae et gesta summorum pontificum (1601), p. 961. On these two structures, see especially Frommel, Christoph L., Der Palazzo Venezia in Rom (Opladen, 1982), pp. 12–20 ; Frommel, Christoph L., ‘Francesco del Borgo: architetto di Pio II e di Paolo II’, in Architettura e committenza da Alberti a Bramante (Florence, 2006), pp. 79–313 (pp. 180–93, 247–57).
22 These include the Biblioteca Greca in the Vatican Palace (c. 1454), the Sala della Piattaia in the Palazzo Altemps (c. 1477), the Sala del Gran Maestro in the Palazzo di Domenico della Rovere (c. 1480s), the Chapel of Girolamo Basso della Rovere in S. Maria del Popolo (1488–90) and the Sala del Mappamondo in the Palazzo Venezia (before 1491).
23 Antiquarie prospetiche romane, ed. Agosti, Giovanni and Isella, Dante, (Parma, 2004), pp. 21–22 . The description was partly inspired by Seutonius's description of Nero's porticus triplices and possibly similar fabulous descriptions in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499); see Calvesi, Maurizio, ‘Il mito di Roma e le “Antiquarie prospettiche”’, Storia dell'arte, 113/114 (2006), pp. 55–76 .
24 Satzinger, Georg, ‘Spolien in der römischen Architektur des Quattrocento’, in Antike Spolien in der Architektur des Mittelalters und der Renaissance, ed. Poeschke, Joachim (Munich, 1996), pp. 249–76.
25 Muffel, Nikolaus, Descrizione della città di Roma nel 1452: Della indulgenze e dei luoghi sacri di Roma (Der ablas und die heiligen stet zu Rom), ed. Wiedmann, Gerhard (Bologna, 1999), pp. 90–91 ; Satzinger, Georg, ‘Nikolaus V, Nikolaus Muffel und Bramante: monumentale Triumphbogens en in Alt- St.-Peter’, Römiches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana, 31 (1996), pp. 91–106 ; Satzinger, ‘Spolien’, pp. 249–54; Bosman, Lex, The Power of Tradition: Spolia in the Architecture of St Peter's in the Vatican (Hilversum, 2004), pp. 59–60 .
26 On the Palazzo Vitelleschi, see Law, John E., ‘Giovanni Vitelleschi: “prelato guerriero”’, Renaissance Studies, 12, no. 1 (1998), pp. 40–66 (pp. 49–50); Clarke, Georgia, Roman House – Renaissance Palace: Inventing Antiquity in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Cambridge, 2003), p. 200 .
27 See Tomei, L'architettura, p. 42–45; Satzinger, ‘Spolien’, p. 251. The use of varying types of spoliated columns can also be seen in the Palazzo Mattei alle Tartarughe and the Chiostro della Cisterna at S. Maria sopra Minerva.
28 The Cortile dei Nobili has spoliated columns on the ground floor and squat, brick octagonal columns on the upper storey, while the Cortile dei Monache employs spoliated columns for both stories. With the exception of the corner piers, most of the travertine columns in both courtyards have been heavily restored; see Satzinger, ‘Spolien’, p. 256.
29 Beginning in 1461, workmen brought nine columns from the area of the Lateran and an additional eleven from the Portico of Octavia, all of which were presumably granite; see Lanciani, Storia degli scavi, I, pp. 67–70; Frommel, ‘Francesco del Borgo’, pp. 94–104; Satzinger, ‘Spolien’, p. 254.
30 Frommel, Christoph L., ‘Il cardinale Raffaele Riario ed il palazzo della Cancelleria’, in Sisto IV e Giulio II, mecenati e promotori di cultura, ed. Bottaro, S., Dagnino, A. and Rotondi, G. (Savona, 1989), pp. 73–85 (pp. 73–75). The titular palace attached to S. Lorenzo in Damaso had already been enlarged and improved by Giordano Orsini and Francesco Gonzaga in the fifteenth century; see Frommel, Christoph L., ‘San Lorenzo in Damaso e l'attiguo palazzo cardinalizio tra il Quattrocento e il primo Cinquecento’, in L'antica basilica di San Lorenzo in Damaso: indagini archeologiche nel Palazzo della Cancelleria, 1988–1993, ed. Frommel, Christoph L. and Pentiricci, Massimo, 2 vols (Rome, 2009), I, p. 411–30 (p. 421).
31 Valtieri suggests that three columns acquired for this project in 1486 are evidence that the church was not originally destined for demolition and that this is further supported by a new marble portal being built to the south of the left aisle in February 1486 and a tomb erected by Jacopo Gallo in 1488/89; see Valtieri, Simonetta, ‘La fabbrica del palazzo del cardinale Raffaele Riario (la Cancelleria)’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura, 169–174 (1982), pp. 3–25 (p. 3); Frommel, ‘San Lorenzo in Damaso’, p. 422.
32 Infessura, Stefano, Diario della città di Roma di Stefano Infessura scribasenato, ed. Tommasini, Oreste (Rome, 1890), pp. 251–52.
33 Frommel, ‘San Lorenzo in Damaso’, p. 412.
34 Paolo Cortesi makes several mentions of the Riario's palace in his work De cardinalatu and used the Palazzo della Cancelleria as the model for his ideal cardinal's palace; see Weil-Garris, Kathleen and D'Amico, John, ‘The Renaissance Cardinal's Ideal Palace: a Chapter from Cortesi's De Cardinaltu ’, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 35 (1980), pp. 45–123 ; Brothers, Cammy, ‘Architecture, Texts, and Imitation in Late-Fifteenth- and Early-Sixteenth-Century Rome’, in Architecture and Language: Constructing Identity in European Architecture c. 1000-c. 1650, ed. Clarke, Georgia and Crossley, Paul (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 82–101 .
35 An example of this specific type of rosette capital remains today in the church of S. Prisca and similar capitals are also visible in the Museo Nazionale Romano Terme di Diocleziano. One from the Baths of Diocletian is illustrated in de Chambray, Roland Fréart, Parallèle de l'architecture antique et de la moderne (Paris, 1650), p. 17 .
36 On the rusticated ancient wall of tuff and travertine beneath the Cancelleria, see Royo, Martine, ‘Éléments antiques sous le Palais de la Chancellerie’, Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome; Antiquité, 96, no 2 (1984), pp. 847–906 (pp. 866, 875–77 and 881); the contemporary writer Raffaele Maffei used the façade of the Cancelleria as an example of opus isodomum in his 1506 Commentariorum urbanorum; see Margaret Daly Davis, ‘“Opus isodomum” at the Palazzo della Cancelleria: Vitruvian Studies and Archaeological and Antiquarian Interests at the Court of Raffaele Riario’, in Roma, centro ideale della cultura nei secoli XV e XVI, pp. 442–57 (p. 445); Clarke, Roman House, p. 213; Brothers has suggested that, in the manner of literary concepts of imitation, the Cancelleria takes architectural details from several ancient models to create a new all'antica model; see Brothers, ‘Architecture, Texts, and Imitation’, pp. 87–92.
37 According to the construction documentation, travertine for the Cancelleria was brought from the Colosseum and the areas around S. Giorgio al Velabro and S. Pietro in Vincoli. In addition, Lanciani has claimed that additional stone was taken from the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Quirinal Temple and the Arch of Gordian; see Lanciani, Destruction, p. 211; Bentivoglio, Enzo, ‘Nel cantiere del palazzo del card. Raffaele Riario (la Cancelleria): organizzazione, materiali, maestranze, personaggi’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura, 169–74 (1982), pp. 27–34 (pp. 28–29).
38 Valtieri, ‘La fabbrica’, pp. 3–5.
39 The columns of the courtyard have a variety of ancient provenances according to the study conducted by Olwen Williams-Thorpe. His breakdown of thirty-nine shafts is as follows: Elba/Giglio (10), Aswan (8), Mons Claudianus (8), Troad (8), Corsica (2), Kozak or Western Turkey (2), Sardinia (1); see Williams-Thorpe, ‘A Thousand and One Columns', supplementary dataset.
40 Bentivoglio, ‘Nel cantiere’, p. 28.
41 Ibid. Based on this diameter, it is likely that the original column shafts were forty Roman feet high. Given that the columns of the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian remain in situ, those used for the Cancelleria piers may have instead been part of the now largely destroyed caldarium. Numerous Renaissance drawings illustrate the caldarium with eight columns nearly as large as those of the frigidarium.
42 In 1497, Francesco d'Arezzo was paid for an ‘asse per lo carro grande’, a master Paolo carraro was paid for a ‘cassa per lo carro grande’, and two additional columns were brought from the area around S. Giovanni in Laterano, Bentivoglio, ‘Nel cantiere’, pp. 28 and 30. The source of the other columns is unknown. The 1988–1993 excavation of S. Lorenzo in Damaso demonstrated it is unlikely any of the columns came from the old basilica. It is more probable that a number came from the nearby Porticus and Theatre of Pompey. According to excavations, these monuments contained columns of africano, cipollino, porphyry and grey granite, the lattermost being by far the greatest number. The scaenae frons of the theatre is also said to have been built of red granite; see Gagliardo, Maria C., and Packer, James E., ‘A New Look at Pompey's Theater: History, Documentation, and Recent Excavation’, American Journal of Archeology 110, no. 1 (Jan. 2006), pp. 93–122 (pp. 100–01 and 117).
43 On moving monolithic columns, see Belli, Gianluca, ‘Notes sur le transport et le soulèvement des colonnes dans l'architecture des XVe et XVIe siècles’, in La colonne: Nouvelle histoire de la construction, ed. Gargiani, Roberto (Lausanne, 2008), pp. 91–115 .
44 It is almost certain that the granite columns of the courtyard were re-carved, since acquiring a matching set of this size was probably impossible by the fifteenth century and all the column shafts have unusually large lower fillets. The column shafts of the ground floor loggia on average measure 59.2 cm in diameter above their lower apophyge, while the smaller columns of the upper storey on average measure 49.3 cm in diameter at this same point.
45 Butters, Triumph of Vulcan, pp. 204 and 445–64, appendix XII no. 13.
47 Vasari claimed that Alberti ‘experimented with tempers for his steel chisels but progressed only slowly, and was unable to cut the clean edges and corners that all'antica lettering demanded’. Giuliano da Sangallo is the only figure to have left evidence of his tempering recipe, which is based on the medieval tradition of using the urine of a he-goat fed on ivy; see Butters, Triumph of Vulcan, pp. 143, 187 and 205; Donatello, as early as 1464, is said to have carved the Elban granite baluster that supports his bronze Judith and Holofernes, which was originally located in the garden of the Palazzo Medici in Florence. The statue base was modified when the Florentine Republic confiscated the work in 1495, but the baluster, as Caglioti has convincingly argued, is part of the original ensemble. Caglioti has also noted there is a similar granite baluster supporting a font dating from the 1470s in the Florentine church of S. Croce; see Caglioti, Francesco, Donatello e i Medici: storia del David e della Giuditta (Florence, 2000), pp. 81–100 .
48 ‘le colonne antiche di graniti diversi […] e per memoria di quello e per veneratione della materia ch'hà dell'eterno’; Cesare D'Onofrio, Roma nel Seicento (Florence, 1969), p. 159.
49 ‘Denique eo popularis ineptiae caecitatisque perventum, ut cum eum lapidem intueantur, non colore modo sed ipsa etiam materia scalpris ferreis resistentem, resilientibusque favillis, crustulas tamen excidunt iterum atque iterum olfacientes manuque librantes, postremo palam blacterantes non humana vi sed necromantiae maleficio, artibus magicis, Virgilianisque cantationibus id opus effectum’: Curran, Brian and Grafton, Anthony, ‘A Fifteenth-Century Site Report on the Vatican Obelisk’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 58 (1995), pp. 234–48 (pp. 245 and 248).
50 Vasari, Vasari on Technique, pp. 40 and 42. At the Cancelleria, payments made in 1502 and 1503 for ‘smeriglo’ and ‘casse della polvere delle cholonne’ suggest that the granite columns were polished using boxes filled with emery; see Bentivoglio, ‘Nel cantiere’, p. 30.
51 ‘Quarum quamlibet, ut a cardinalibus accepi, centum uiri uix per annum secare, polire, atque perficere potuerunt’; see Rushforth, Gordon, ‘Magister Gregorius de Mirabilibus Urbis Romae: a New Description of Rome in the Twelfth Century’, The Journal of Roman Studies, 9 (1919), pp. 14–58 (p. 52); Gregorius, Master, The Marvels of Rome, trans. Osborne, John (Toronto, 1987), p. 27 .
52 The extraordinary nature of working hard stones and the need for tempered chisels was also prominently mentioned among hundreds of references to ancient marbles in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). For example, the protagonist Poliphilo was ‘stupefied as I considered how hard and resistant the stones were that supported the great basin,’ which could only have been carved ‘with special chisels and burins, tempered in a way that is lost to our modern craftsmen’; see Colonna, Francesco, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream, trans. Godwin, Joscelyn (London, 1999), pp. 91–92 ; Butters, Triumph of Vulcan, p. 186.
53 It is reasonable to conclude that, if the builders of the Cancelleria had access to four column fragments at least five metres high and a metre and a half in diameter, then they would have made the ground-floor piers out of single pieces of granite. In having instead to rely on smaller fragments, they made ingenious use of central marble bands. Similar central bands can be seen on the rectangular peristyle columns of the House of Julia Felix in Pompeii, although this was obviously not known in the Renaissance. Valtieri notes that Lorenzo da Viterbo's Ascension fresco in the Cappella Mazzatosta of S. Maria della Verità in Viterbo depicts square columns with decorated central bands; see Valtieri, ‘La fabbrica’, p. 24, note 86 and fig. 53.
54 Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture, trans. Morris Hicky Morgan (Cambridge, 1914), p. 190 (Book VI, 8, section 4); Vitruvius, De architectura, ed. Fra Giocondo (Venice, 1511), pp. 63r and 64r; Frommel, Christoph L., ‘I chiostri di S. Ambrogio e il cortile della Cancelleria a Roma: un confronto stilistico’, Arte lombarda, 79 (1986), pp. 9–18 (pp. 12–14); Frommel, Christoph L., ‘Il Palazzo della Cancelleria’, in Palazzo dal Rinascimento a oggi, in Italia nel regno di Napoli in Calabria, ed. Valtieri, Simonetta (Rome, 1989), pp. 29–53 (pp. 34 and 49); Clarke, Roman House, pp. 122–23 and 257–58.
55 These drawings include Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. Lat. 4424, Codex Barberini, f. 67r; London, Sir John Soane's Museum, Codex Coner, f. 5r; Florence, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 1863 Ar; Salzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. Ital. M III 40, f. 27v.
56 On the mosaics, see especially Nagel, Alexander and Wood, Christopher, Anachronic Renaissance (New York, 2010), pp. 334–45.
57 ‘Bramante sia stato il primo à metter in luce la buona, e bella Architettura, che da gli Antichi fin’à quel tempo era stata nascosa’: Palladio, Andrea, The Four Books on Architecture, trans. Tavernor, Robert and Schofield, Richard (Cambridge, 1997), p. 276 (Book 4, p. 64).
58 Vasari, Le vite, IV, p. 154.
59 Freiberg has demonstrated that the foundation stone for the Tempietto was laid in 1502. Nevertheless, there are no indications as to when the design was finalised and construction occurred. For an overview on the question of dating, see most recently Freiberg, Jack, Bramante's Tempietto, the Roman Renaissance and the Spanish Crown (Cambridge, 2014), pp. 137–57, and 262 note 2; and David Hemsoll's review, The Burlington Magazine, 157, no. 1352 (Nov. 2015), 9p. 788–89.
60 Wolfgang Lotz, Architecture in Italy 1500–1600 (New Haven, 1995), p.12.
61 Palladio, Four Books, p. 276 (Book 4, p. 64).
62 According to the geologist Lorenzo Lazzarini, the columns are made from three types of granite: Kozak (13), Troad (2) and Elba/Giglio (1); see Freiberg, Bramante's Tempietto, pp. 106 and 252 note 23. Their proportional slenderness (about 1:7.9) and the chipping seen on their interior faces of the column shafts has led several scholars to suggest that the columns were reused as found. Yet it is also possible that the relatively uniform spalling could be the product of weathering or later damage. Likewise, it is plausible that some of the columns maintain their ancient proportions while others have been re-carved. Freiberg has recently suggested that the thirteen shafts made of Kozak granite form an unaltered matching set, while the other three were probably re-carved; see Freiberg, Bramante's Tempietto, pp. 106. See also Moore, Derek A.R., ‘Notes on the Use of Spolia in Roman Architecture from Bramante to Bernini’, in Architectural Studies in Memory of Richard Krautheimer, ed. Striker, Cecil L (Mainz, 1996), pp. 119–22 (pp. 119–20); Dittscheid, Hans-Christoph, ‘Form versus Materie. Zum Spoliengebrauch in den römischen Bauten und Projekten Donato Bramantes’, in Antike Spolien, pp. 277–307 (p. 278); Bosman, The Power of Tradition, p. 113; Bruschi, Arnaldo, ‘L'architettura a Roma negli ultimi anni del pontificato di Alessandro VI Borgia (1492– 1503) e l'edilizia del primo Cinquecento’, Storia dell'architettura italiana: il primo Cinquecento, ed. Bruschi, Arnaldo (Milan, 2002), pp. 34–75 (p. 62).
63 See Jones, Mark Wilson, ‘The Tempietto and the Roots of Coincidence’, Architectural History, 33 (1990), pp. 1–28 (p. 24).
64 Dittscheid, ‘Form versus Materie’, p. 280. A similar concept of Christianisation would also apply to using a round peripteral temple for a Christian purpose, and replacing pagan objects of sacrifice in the Doric frieze, such as bucrania, with Christian liturgical items.
65 According to the medieval Mirabilia urbis Romae, S. Stefano Rotondo was the former Temple of Faunus. In the Renaissance, Biondo, Fauno, Fulvio and Marliani reiterated this tradition in their guidebooks. As regards S. Costanza, the latter two authors as well as others claimed it had been a Temple of Bacchus that Pope Alexander IV had re-consecrated in the thirteenth century. See Benedict, Master, Marvels of Rome, trans. Nichols, Francis Morgan, 2nd edn (New York, 1986), p. 45 ; Burn, Robert, Rome and the Campagna: An Historical and Topographical Description of the Site, Buildings, and Neighbourhood of Ancient Rome (Deighton, 1876), p. 202 note 10; Holloway, R. Ross, Constantine and Rome (New Haven, 2004), p. 100 . On the connection of the Tempietto to these churches, see especially Rosenthal, Earl ‘The Antecedents of Bramante's Tempietto’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 23, no. 2 (May, 1964), pp. 55–74 (pp. 65–68); Verdon, Timothy, ‘Bramante and Early Christian Spatial Articulation’, Arte Lombarda, 86/87, no. 3–4 (1988), pp. 181–86; Wilson Jones, ‘Tempietto’, pp. 19–21; Günther, Hubertus, ‘La ricezione dell'antico nel Tempietto’, in Donato Bramante: ricerche, proposte, riletture, ed. di Teodoro, Francesco Paolo (Urbino, 2001), pp. 267–302 .
66 See Ackerman, James, The Cortile del Belvedere (Vatican City, 1954). Bruschi, Frommel, and others have suggested that the stairway may have been designed as early as 1504; Bruschi, Arnaldo, Bramante architetto (Bari, 1969), p. 417 ; Frommel, Christoph L., ‘I tre progetti bramanteschi per il Cortile del Belvedere’, Il Cortile delle Statue: Der Statuenhof des Belvedere im Vatikan, ed. Winner, Matthais, Andreae, Bernard and Pietrangeli, Carlo (Mainz, 1998), pp. 17–66 (p. 44).
67 Nesselrath, Christiane Denker, Bramante's Spiral Staircase (Vatican City, 1996), p. 11 . The staircase as built has thirty-six columns, but Christiane Denker Nesselrath suggests that the four final granite columns were added in the 1560s. I agree with her assessment, which explains why the thirty-second column shaft is made of grey marble rather than of granite. A similar spiral staircase attributed to Baldassare Peruzzi at the Villa Petrucci outside of Siena (c. 1511) has no columns on its final revolution.
68 Denker Nesselrath, Bramante's Spiral Staircase, p. 21; for measurements of the columns, see Frommel, ‘I tre progetti’, pp. 64–5, appendix.
69 Studies of the orders as they apply to the staircase include: Bruschi, Bramante, pp. 428–33; Nesselrath, Christiane Denker, Die Säulenordnungen bei Bramante (Worms, 1990), pp. 27–34, 60–62, 78–79 and 107–109; Frommel, ‘I tre progetti’, pp. 42–48.
70 ‘si può dire ch’ei suscitasse la buona Architettura, che da gli antiqui fino a quel tempo era stata sepulta’; see Serlio, Sebastiano, Sebastiano Serlio on Architecture, trans. Hart, Vaughan and Hicks, Peter (New Haven, 1996), p. 127 (Book 3, p. 36).
71 The entryway of an early sixteenth-century palace (Via delle Coppelle, 74) also features two granite columns. Outside Rome, the Chiostro dei Benefattori at the Abbey of Montecassino (c. 1513) and the southern loggia of the Palazzo Colonna in Genazzano both employ spoliated granite columns.
72 Cugnoni, Giuseppe, ‘Note al Commentario di Alessandro VII sulla vita di Agostino Chigi’, Archivio della Societa romana di storia patria, 3, no. 4 (1880), pp. 422–48 (p. 440); Shearman, John, ‘The Chigi Chapel in S. Maria del Popolo’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 24, no. 3/4 (July, 1961), pp. 129–60 (p. 154).
73 The courtyard of Casa dei Fabi (Via Portico d'Ottavia, 13) was built, based on stylistic and historical evidence, in the early sixteenth century. The Fabi family claimed to be descended from the prominent ancient Roman Fabius family (gens Fabia); see Guide Rionali di Roma: Rione XI – S. Angelo, ed. Pietrangeli, Carlo, 3rd edn (Rome, 1976), p. 38 .
74 This dating is based primarily on a drawing by Jean de Chenevières, which Frommel dates to between 1518 and 1526; Munich, Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, Cod. icon. 195, f. 8r; Frommel, Christoph L., Der Römische Palastbau der Hochrenaissance, 3 vols (Tübingen, 1973), II, p. 119 .
75 It is unknown where these columns came from, but a breve issued by Leo X on 5 March 1514 records the concession of land in the area of S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura for the acquisition of ‘lapides marmores Tibertinos columnas capitella et bases vasa lapidea et cuiusvis generic ornamenta vel metalla’; see Frommel, Römische Palastbau, II, p. 103, doc. 8.
76 ‘Apud quas palatium visitor Alexandri Farness […] quod palatium hoc anno a fundamentis ipse sumptuosissime reparare incepit, marmoreis et plucris columnis illud ornatum reddens’; da Firenze, Fra Mariano, Itinerarium urbis Romae, ed. Bulletti, Enrico (Rome, 1931), p. 64 .
77 Hibbard, Howard, ‘The Architecture of the Palazzo Borghese’, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 27 (1962), pp. 1–151 (pp. 32–53).
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
Full text views reflects the number of PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th October 2016 - 23rd September 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.