BARBARO, Daniele
(b. 1514, Venezia, d. 1570, Venezia)

Frontispiece (verso)

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

The woodcut opens Daniele Barbaro's edition of Vitruvius (I Dieci libri dell'architettura di M. Vitruvio tradutti e commentati da Monsignor Barbaro, eletto patriarca d'Acquileggia, Venice 1556), published in 1556, mirroring Barbaro's views on architectural theory, and presumably shows the scholar himself in the middle of an accumulation of sundry appliances and instruments.

Cog wheel, block and tackle and tongs allude to the practical activities of the architect. The tortoise and mobile assault shelter derive originally from the military sphere. They were for the Roman army's protection when advancing. Barbaro is here following an older tradition of Vitruvius exegesis, which describes the vault of the ancient basilica in Fano built by Vitruvius as analogous to the carapace of a tortoise. Translated into architectural terms, the mobile shelter became a pitched roof. In the background, arches and vaults as the epitome of classical architecture are contrasted with "modern" contemporary architecture, with the Ionic ascribed to Barbaro corresponding the order used in the façade of his mansion in Maser. An interest in architecture also meant, for Barbaro, studying astronomy. Its importance is underlined by the sundial, linking the earthly world with the stars and the sphere in front of the scholar.