Printed: Circa 1698

Publisher: F Chereau. Paris

Dimensions 10 × 17 × 1 cm

Language: French

Size (cminches): 10 x 17 x 1


Item information


Green calf spine with marbled purple boards. Gilt banding and emblems on the spine. Architectural designs.

It is the intent of F.B.A. to provide an in-depth photographic presentation of this book offered so to almost stimulate your feel and touch on the book. If requested, more traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

A very early compendium, as the below notes emphasise it was an extremely rare occurrence if these books duplicated as each edition was hand assembled.

In July 1562, Vignole Giacinto’s son sent To Count Ottavio Farnese the Regola delli cinque ordini d’archittetura; it was certainly one of the very first copies to come out of the presses. The work consisted of thirty-two folio copper engravings; the texts were not composed, but also engraved on the copper plates. The sheets were obviously sold freely, and could then be bound to form a book, but also, at the discretion of the buyer, be combined with other books or other series of engravings: this explains the very variable states of the preserved copies of this first edition. Moreover, very quickly, Vignole modified the plates by designating the different parts represented with the common Italian terms (“base”, “capitello”, “colonna”, etc.). (2nd state). In a paragraph added to the foreword in smaller characters (Plate III), he justified these additions by saying that the book had reached a wider audience than expected, who were not familiar with this vocabulary (“Come e detto il mio intento è stato di essere solamente da quelli che habbiano qualche introdutione nell’arte, et per questo non haveva scritto il nome a niuno de membri particolari di questi cinque ordini presupondoli per noti; ma visto poi per esperienza come l’opera piace anco assai a molti Signori mossi dal gusto di potere intendere con pochissima fatica l’intiero dell’arte intorno questi ornamenti ; et che solo vi desiderano questi nomi particolari, ho voluto aggiungnerveli in quel modo che à Roma vengono volgarmente nominati, et con l’ordine che si potra vedere; avvertendo solamente che i membri sono comuni à piu ordini, doppo che saranno notati une volta sola nel primo ordine che occorrera, non se ne fara piu mentione nelli altri”).
The regola copy of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts is one of the small number of copies known to date that do not have these modifications. Nevertheless, the binder inserted between the title page and the privilege (plates I and II) an additional sheet which is an inverted copy of the plate representing the five orders attached to a later, anonymous edition, published around 1573. The plates are therefore thirty-three in number, which corresponds to the handwritten numbering in Arabic numerals indicated at the top right, added by the purchaser of the collection. In addition, he or a later owner began to specify the names of the parts of the orders, even improving the somewhat imprecise indication “colonna” due to Vignole in “fusto della colonna” (plates IV and VII).
The title page of the original edition does not specify the name of the publisher or the place of publication; it seems that Vignole himself took care of the printing and distribution of his work. For this, he was able to cooperate with Antonio Labacco who as early as 1552 had published his Libro appartenente all’architettura “impresso a Roma, in casa nostra”. The two books are frequently bound together; the representation of the ancient buildings of Labacco and the exposition of the system of the orders of Vignole complement each other, like Books III and IV of Serlio. The privilege obtained from Pius IV (Plate II) was valid for ten years; at the end of this period a new expanded edition was to be published. From the foreword to the original edition, Vignole had suggested that “altre cose maggiori in questo soggetto” should follow, if his work received a favorable reception. In the same way, Serlio’s Book IV already proposed examples of the development of the five orders (portals, porticoes, facades). But the death of Vignole in 1573 prevented the realization of the project. In all likelihood, he left drawings that had been designed with this in mind; subsequently, his heirs had four portals and a fireplace engraved on copper, although their layout did not correspond to the standards of the Regolaplates, and they added them to the thirty-two engravings of the original edition, probably in the hope of anticipating the counterfeits that would follow.
In fact, the editorial success of the Regola immediately led to counterfeits. The pontifical privilege that also applied to Venice was ignored: the printer Bolognini Zaltieri published a new edition in 1570, without fear of mentioning on the title page his name and the date of printing. An anonymous pirate edition, without date, appeared around 1573 probably in Rome. It consists of exact imitations of the thirty-two original plates of 1562, except that plate II, with privilege, is replaced by an overview of the five orders freely inspired by Serlio. It was included in all subsequent editions, and even the Roman publisher Andrea Vaccario, who removed the moose brass with the mention Libro primo, and original,took up this engraving. From there, the “Vignole” was the subject of countless copies, supplemented and developed by additions of all kinds; a recent bibliography includes no less than five hundred titles, including translations into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, English, Russian, Portuguese, and recently also into Japanese.
The worldwide success of Vignole’s plates is based on their perfect adaptation to their function as book illustration: they allow, thanks to clear and large-format representations, to visualize the shapes of the “five orders”. But originally, Vignole’s intentions were very different. As he states in the foreword, he had developed a method to govern the entire system of proportions of the five orders for his own use (“solo per servirmene nelle mie occurenze”). He now wanted to make it available to the public, or at least to the professionals concerned by the subject (“quelli che habbino qualche introdutione nell’arte”), the problem actually being the responsibility of more than confirmed specialists. Indeed, the system of the “five orders” – Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and composite – developed by Peruzzi and Serlio had been established in a general way without one having come to a single canon that governs the whole; since the values recorded on the buildings differed greatly from one case to another, they were opposed to any form of standardization. Thus, still in Serlio, ideal proportions of the canon and empirically established detail measurements remained juxtaposed, and the final choice was ultimately left to the “arbitrio del prudent architetto”. This, a self-taught architect probably trained in his early days by reading Serlio, could not live with. In all likelihood, he tackled the problem as soon as the Regole generali of the Bolognese appeared in 1537, while working in Rome for Claudio Tolomei’sAccademia della Virtù.
The solution he arrived at was radical: it was based on a reversal – a revolution, in the original sense of the word – of all the methods used until then to determine proportions. Instead of stacking elements on top of the other with shapes defined by isolated proportions, and being unable in doing so to obtain an overall measure, necessarily indeterminable, he took as his starting point the overall height given a priori,to divide it in a second time into sub-parts. This approach corresponds fundamentally to his conception of architectural creation: the priority given to the overall system to the detriment of the design of particular motifs. He therefore developed a single “general rule” governing the five orders at the same time: the entablature must have as its height a quarter that of the column, and the pedestal, if necessary, the third. This results in a division of the overall height of the order into 19 equal parts, of which 12 are attributed to the column, 3 to the entablature and 4 to the pedestal; in the case of an order without a pedestal, there will be 15 parts, of which 12 for the column and 3 for the entablature. It is only in a second stage that the columns receive the particular proportions that characterize each of the five orders. In Serlio and his predecessors, the columns “grow” from a diameter whose progressive multiplication determines their height; on the other hand, the “general rule” of Vignole starts from a constant height whose division gives the diameter: a seventh for the Tuscan, an eighth for the Doric, and so on. Following the example of Vitruvius, Vignole then chooses a “module” equal to half a diameter that founds the system; all other measures are expressed in fractions or multiples of this module. The result is an arithmetic model, with the help of which each order, in itself harmoniously proportioned, can easily be adapted to any given height, that of a façade or that of an interior.
From this point of view, the Regola de Vignole is a remarkable intellectual achievement. The fact that it has not been properly understood and appreciated, no more today than yesterday, is due to the way in which the author presented it. Instead of exposing his approach, he is content with a few indications to guide the work at the drawing table. For each order, two key digits are mentioned (for one order with pedestal and for another without), from which the corresponding modulus can be calculated. Everything else must be deducted from the boards; “in un’occhiata sola, senza gran fastidio di leggere”, the architect can find everything he wants. The Regola is designed for practitioners, not readers. This earned him a reputation among theorists for being the stupidest of treaties. But the monotonous suite, five times repeated of a colonnade, an arcade, a pedestal with the base, a capital with the entablature is in no way the result of a lack of imagination; it corresponds to the “ceteris partibus” principle of a scientific experiment, that is to say that it draws the eye to what changes from one order to another: numbers. They are the real essence of the work founding Vignole’s doctrine. This does not detract from the suggestive force of the boards. We had never before seen the orders represented as follows: in folio format, with exact graduations (each value indicated on the edge can be measured with the compass on the board) and a relief effect rendered by the engraving, the images chaining to each other with the precision of the parts of a machine. While the woods of Serlio were still designed only in relation to the buildings to which they referred, the coppers of Vignole replace the buildings, constituting themselves as objects. It is true that there are quotations from ancient examples, such as the Doric order of the theater of Marcellus or the frieze of the temple of Antoninus and Faustina; but their dimensions are subject to the rigorous model of the architect, who moreover does not hide it: “se qualche minimo membro non havrà cosi ubidito interamente alle proporzioni de numeri… questo l’havero accomodato nella mia regola”.
Here appears the revolutionary foundation of Vignole’s work: the renunciation of the ideal of ancient culture in favor of pure rationality. What he had in mind was a totally objective and arithmetically controlled drawing technique, and in this sense, he believed he could advance his contemporaries: thanks to his method, even the “mediocri ingegni” could have been in a state to realize good architectures, that is to say architectures in accordance with his rule. But this very approach has helped to isolate him, both as a theorist and as a practitioner, from the dominant state of mind in Italy. His contemporaries did not pose as such the problem that Vignole boasted of having solved. With rare exceptions, the Regola remained used as a primer for beginners, or a picture book for “signori”. The influence on the architectural practice of the time remained negligible.

Christof Thoenes (Rome, Bibliotheca Hertziana) – 2013

Giacomo or Jacopo Barozzi (known as da Vignola and in English Vignole),born in Vignola (Duchy of Modena)on October  1507 and died in Rome on July 7, 1573,was an Italian architect and theorist of Renaissance architecture.

Giacomo Barozzi first studied painting in Bologna,but reading Vitruvius and a trip to Rome definitively fixed him on architecture. Entered as a draughtsman with Giacomo Melenghini of Ferrara, architect of Pope Paul III in Rome,he raised many ancient buildings and soon took his place among the most skilful theorists.

The Primatice (who is in the service of Francis takes him to France,where he stays two years (1541-1543) occupied, with the founder Francisque Ribon, to the bronze execution of the figures moulded in Italy that serve for the decoration of the gardens of Fontainebleau. Vignole would also have designed a project for the castle of Chambord (not realized).

Back in his country, Vignole built the façade of the Basilica of San Petronio,the portico of Campio and – nearby, in Minerbio -, the Isolani Palace; in Rome, the villa of Julius III,near the People’s Gate; near Rome, the Villa Farnese of Caprarola; the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels of Assisi, the Church of the Gesù. He succeeded Michelangelo as architect of St. Peter’s.

His architectural manner is scholarly but heavy, pompous and cold. It is above all through his Traité des cinq ordres d’Architecture, published in 1562, that he exerts his influence in the distance, particularly on French art. Augustin-Charles d’Aviler (1653-1701) gives a French version (a little simplified): the Cours d’architecture which includes the orders of Vignole with commentaries (1691).

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