Martijn van Beek

Artifex. Architectural Reasoning, Drawing and Rhetoric in the Oeuvre of Friar Juan Ricci de Guevara (1600-1681)

Adviser: Freek Schmidt

  • 2021
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

This dissertation explores the function of architecture in the illustrated manuscripts of the erudite Spanish Benedictine scholar, artist and preacher Juan Ricci de Guevara.

Among architectural historians, Ricci has become famous for his invention of the complete architectural Salomonic order, which has been discussed by modern scholars predominantly isolated from its textual context, and from a formal, aesthetic approach. The new, comprehensive approach of Ricci’s scholarship in the manuscripts shows that he referred to architecture continuously. From this starting point the hypothesis is made that architecture for Ricci was a suitable interdisciplinary agent for his innovative ideas. With architecture, he could establish connections between various sources, methods and arguments, while coincidentally maintaining the scientific level of his scholarly work. This dissertation is the first book in which Ricci’s written oeuvre (which was never published and is now kept in Madrid, El Escorial, the Vatican and Montecassino) is assessed in-depth comprehensively. It results in a detailed insight in his formulation of a pivotal role for architecture and the architectural image in seventeenth-century scholarship, as a result of Ricci’s particular fusion of scholarly, artistic and rhetorical approaches.

The recognition of this mechanism results in an updated inventory of his manuscripts, a discussion of important but hitherto unknown sections of the writings in which the position of architecture is discussed and legitimized, an adjustment of the modern formal discussion of the complete Salomonic order, a new analysis of Ricci’s presentation of his ideas to Pope Alexander VII in the 1660s, and the identification of a decoration program by Ricci for the basilica of the abbey of Montecassino.

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