Friday, February 28, 2020

Pozzo's Lasting Perspective

A diagram of a twisted vertical column
On Monday, students from Elizabeth Kassler-Taub's Early Modern Art History class made their second visit to Rauner. During their visit, they had the chance to look at a variety of early modern architectural treatises, including a sumptuous 1719 edition of Andrea Pozzo's Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum. Pozzo, who lived from 1642 until 1709, was the definition of a Renaissance man (although he technically operated within the Baroque period): Jesuit brother, architect, painter, and stage set designer were but a few of his identities. His Perspectiva is a stunning example of his skill with and comprehension of the visual arts. The manual was one of the first to provide instructions on how to accomplish realistic perspective in painting and satisfying proportions in architectural design. The book went on to be a huge success; it was printed in at least six languages and new editions continued to come out well into the 19th century.

A diagram of a structural dome

To explore the beautiful engravings on perspective that accompany Pozzo's writing, or to read it for yourself if you can, come to Special Collections and ask for Rare NC749 .P8 1719.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Real Character

Taxonomy of maggots
This book is something else. It is titled An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, by John Wilkins of the Royal Society and printed in 1688. From the title, you would think it is about language and materiality, maybe with a bit of a metaphysical twist. But then you open it up and realize it is trying to do so much more. It seems to be an attempt to get the whole of creation tamed and under control in some sort of analytical system.

Taxonomy of discourseTaxonomy of herbs

Everything is broken down and sorted in cascading charts of creation. We are talking about EVERYTHING--comets, rainbows, garden cress, dog-fish, and even clauses and sentences.

As an added bonus, there is a fairly long analysis of Noah's Ark thrown in--makes sense, I guess, when you think of what the author was trying to do.

Diagram of Noah's Ark
Come take a look by asking for Rare P101 .W4 1668.