Page images

St. Peter's with the top of the Vatican obelisk rising behind it, and the Church of S. Maria in Trastevere; on the other side of the river we notice the Porta del Popolo, behind which is the so-called tower of Nero; at the left is a column, probably of Marcus Aurelius; at the right of the gate is the Pantheon. In the center of the medallion the Campidoglio with two square towers is easily recognized, and behind it is the Colosseum, Near the upper edge of the picture may be seen, at the left, the Church of St. John Lateran, and at the right the pyramid of Cestius, the lower part of which is hidden by the arch of Titus. The designer of the medallion, as of our picture map a century and a half later, was less interested in presenting a plan of the city than in making an effective picture which would recall its famous buildings, Christian as well as pagan.

A study of the picture maps of Rome published by de Rossi, and of the additions to his collection identified and published since his time, reveals a great variety of treatment and suggests a division into classes, which we need not enter into here. The freedom with which the painters of the Renaissance treated the buildings of Rome even when they were not so cramped for space is well illustrated by a cassone painting near the date of our manuscript, of which the original is at Yale University; it was published in colors by Ch. Huelsen in the Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica di Roma in 1911 (Pl. 1).5 Here the more important structures are named. The attention is attracted particularly to the square towers of the Campidoglio, near the top of the picture, and to the fanciful representation

4 De Rossi expressed the hope that the publication of his Piante icnografiche would stimulate interest in the subject and lead to the discovery of other perspective plans of Rome. This hope was soon fulfilled; in 1892 Ch. Huelsen published a list of ten such plans that had been made known since 1879 (Bull. Com. Arch. di Roma, 1892, 38, n. 1). It is not improbable that other picture maps of the more imaginative type, like that which forms the subject of this paper, may be found in later manuscripts of pagan writers.

5 Thomas Ashby reminds me that this cassone has been republished by Paul Schubring in his Cassoni; Truhen und Truhenbilder der italienischen Renaissance (1923). Cf. Huelsen, Jour. Brit. Am. Arch. Soc. Rome, Iv. 466 ff.

of the Castle of St. Angelo with the bridge, and of the Tiber, on which a fantastic sailboat appears in the foreground.

There are two perspective maps of Rome in circular form which date from approximately the same period as our manuscript. One is in the Livre d'Heures of the Duc de Berry. It was published by E. Müntz in the Gazette Archéologique for 1885 and by C. L. Visconti in the Bull. Com. Arch. di Roma for the same year (Pl. xvi). The second is a fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. It is one of a group of frescos painted by Taddeo di Bartolo early in the fifteenth century; it was published by E. Stevenson in the Bull. Com. Arch. di Roma for 1881 (Pls. III and IV). When these two are placed side by side, as in the Monuments et Mémoires of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Fondation Piot, vol. xvш (1911), p. 194, it is clear that they are derived from one original. The point of view of the original was north, outside of the Porta del Popolo. In the foreground was the Tiber outside the walls with the two bridges. This original was a perspective plan in the strict sense; the buildings were on a relatively small scale and not so crowded as to obscure the designer's conception of their outstanding characteristics or their relative location.


It has generally been assumed that two other perspective plans were derived from the same original. One, mentioned by de Rossi in the Bull. Com. Arch. di Roma for 1891 (p. 336, No. 7 in footnote),7 is of somewhat later date. More important for our study is the other, which was published with an excellent plate by F. Gregorovius in the Memorie dell' Accademia dei Lincei, Ser. III, vol. xi (1883), pp. 203-212. In this plan,


6 In the perspective plan reproduced in Pl. IV of de Rossi's Piante, dated in 1474, the two bridges are accompanied by the legends pons Milius (for Milvius) and Salarius pons.

7" Miniatura della metà in circa del secolo xv nel codice della biblioteca del Re in Torino."

8 "Io la [nuova prospettiva] rinvenni," writes Gregorovius, "pochi mesi fa, in un codice italiano dipinto con acquerelli da Leonardo da Besozzo, ossia di Bisuccio, miniatore milanesi, il quale fiorì nello scorcio del XIV, e nella prima

dated about 1400, the circular form is abandoned in favor of a rectangle, but the line of the walls in the main follows the scheme indicated in the two circular plans. The Tiber has all but disappeared from the foreground, and in the space thus gained we see the wolf with the twins, whose names are given in the legend as Romulus and Remulus. Here, however, the pictorial element has gained on the topographical; the buildings are on a larger scale, and are crowded together. As usual, both pagan and Christian structures are represented.

Notwithstanding the probable use of the circular form in the original of the perspective plans of the group just mentioned, not even a remote resemblance can be traced to the oval design of our miniature. Devoid of close resemblance, also, are two later miniatures which are closely related to each other and are found at the beginning of two manuscripts of St. Augustine's De Civitate Dei. In introducing the treatise on the heavenly city the illuminators wished to give a glimpse of the City of God on earth. One manuscript is in Paris (Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, No. CC. 12), and contains both the date 1459 and the name of the artist; the other is in the Vatican Library (Cod. Regin. 1882) and was written about the same time.10


In the picture map of the Vatican manuscript the point of view, as usual, is north; and in this miniature Father Ehrle distinguished and identified some twenty monuments, more than twice the number that can be seen in our picture map. On the other hand, in our miniature (Plate IV) the Tiber is more artistically, if not more truthfully represented.

In the foreground of our miniature is the Mulvian Bridge, conventionalized, to be sure, but indubitable. And the

metà del XV secolo. Il preziosissimo codice fece parte della biblioteca di Carlo Morbio di chiar. memoria, e mi venne presentato a Monaco di Baviera."

9 A. Geffroy, Une Vue inédite de Rome en 1459, published in Mélanges G. B. De Rossi, Supplément aux Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire, École française de Rome, XII (1892), 361 ff.

10 Francesco Ehrle, Atti del II° Congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Cristiana (1902), pp. 257–267.

miniaturist has utilized the open space on either side of the river to give to his composition an aspect of life. On this side of the bridge a saddled donkey is feeding; on the other are three men, one of whom is bearing a heavy load, while the others are carrying something suspended from branches over their shoulders.

In our picture map the Porta del Popolo is symmetrically grouped with two other gates. The city wall with its towers is interpreted with strength and dignity. Within the walls at the right we see the Pantheon, at the left the Colosseum; for artistic effect the arcades of the Colosseum are balanced by the treatment of the exterior of the Pantheon. But whether the church dimly discerned in the middle between the two towers is the Aracoeli or some other; whether the two towers themselves, as the treatment of the top suggests, are to be identified with the Campidoglio, as in the cassone at Yale University, or with other towers; whether the great church seen at the left of the Pantheon and beyond it is St. John Lateran, or another of the basilicas represented in other picture maps; whether the meta sudans is fantastically indicated at the right of the Colosseum; whether, as Thomas Ashby suggests, the high tower at the left with the balcony near the top may represent the column of Trajan out of place -all the towers are obviously extended upward to fill the circular space; whether, finally, on the second column from the left there is merely an architectural projection, or an intentional representation of a wolf or some other creature standing on a bracket, who can tell?

Very likely the miniaturist himself could not have passed an examination on the topography of Rome. Why should he have tried to do so? He was not making a guidebook for pilgrims or a handbook for students. He had a sympathetic insight into the content of his pagan text, and a lively imagination. In his soul he imaged the glory of imperial Rome, and he wished others to behold his vision. In his composition with true artistry he emphasized the details that would suggest

his mental picture-the Tiber with the Mulvian bridge, the far-famed walls and gates, and the two monuments oftenest named among the marvels of the ancient time, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. The rest he filled in merely to stimulate the imagination. As an example of the miniaturist's art his picture is less crowded, and more artistic, than the later miniatures which try to tell the whole story.

« PreviousContinue »