Atlas and Hercules in the Garden

Scientific Culture and Literary Imagination at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati

in Nuncius
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This essay explores the interplay in early modern Roman gardens between the iconography of instruments and fountains and scientific culture, especially astronomy. Examining the sundials that adorned the garden at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati, it suggests a new reading of the garden and its iconographic programme, centred on the iconography of Atlas and Hercules holding the celestial sphere. It stresses the importance of scientific culture for both the conception and the subsequent reception of the programme. Several themes are developed: the relevance of wonder and curiosity in the process of understanding nature, the multiple links between nature and artefacts in the space of the garden, and the scientific interests of the patron, Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, and his main adviser, the letterato Giovanni Battista Agucchi.

Atlas and Hercules in the Garden

Scientific Culture and Literary Imagination at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati

in Nuncius

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References

2

Ibid. p. 12.

3

Alexandre Koyré“Attitude esthétique et pensée scientifique,” Critique1955 9:835–847.

8

See most recently Hervé Brunon“De la littérature au jardin,” in Delizie in villa. Il giardino rinascimentale e i suoi committentiedited by Gianni Venturi and Francesco Ceccarelli (Firenze: Olschki 2008) pp. 5–31.

12

Ibid. p. 218.

13

Ibid. pp. 69–72.

15

Mirella Levi D’AnconaThe Garden of the Renaissance: Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting (Firenze: Olschki1977) pp. 237–241 (n. 108).

18

Ibid. pp. 87–89.

21

See Anatole Tchikine“Galera, Navicella, Barcaccia? Bernini’s Fountain in Piazza di Spagna Revisited,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes: An International Quarterly2011 314:311–331 pp. 318–320.

24

Ortensio ToroRota Perpetua per trovar a quant hore si leva il sole e quando e mezzo giorno1594 47.2×39.5cm engraving published by Nicolas van Aelst and Giovanni Battista de Rossi New York Cooper Hewitt Museum inv. 1963-9-317.

30

See Matteo Valleriani“Il ruolo della pneumatica antica durante il Rinascimento: l’esempio dell’organo idraulico nel giardino di Pratolino,” in La civiltà delle acqueedited by Arturo Calzona and Daniela Lamberini 2 vols. Vol. II (Firenze: Olschki 2010) pp. 613–632.

33

Patrizio Barbieri“Organi idraulici e statue ‘che suonano’ delle ville Aldobrandini (Frascati) e Pamphilj (Roma). Monte Parnaso, Ciclope, Centauro e Fauno,” L’organo. Rivista di cultura organaria e organistica2001 34:5–175.

34

Georgius de SepibusRomani Collegii Musaeum Celeberrimum (Amsterdam: Ex Officina Janssonio-Waesbergiana1678). See Michael John Gorman “Between the Demonic and the Miraculous: Athanasius Kircher and the Baroque Culture of Machines” in The Great Art of Knowing: The Baroque Encyclopedia of Athanasius Kircher edited by Daniel Stolzenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Libraries 2001) pp. 59–70 pp. 59–60.

38

Stillman Drake“Galileo on Sense Experience and Foundations of Physics,” Isis1977 681:108–110 p. 108.

41

See Fred Purnell“Francesco Patrizi,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyFall 2008 edition edited by Edward N. Zalta at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/patrizi/ (accessed 13 June 2014).

42

Clovis Whitfield“The ‘camerino’ of Cardinal Del Monte,” Paragone. Arte2008 593:3–38 p. 13. For an extensive discussion of cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini’s cultural and scientific interests see Karen Lloyd Adopted Papal Kin as Art Patrons in Early Modern Rome (1592–1676) Ph.D diss. Rutgers University 2009.

43

On Lagalla see Italo Gallo“Filosofia e scienze negli albori del Seicento: Giulio Cesare Lagalla tra Aristotele e Galilei,” Rassegna storica salernitana1986 3:27–71.

49

David FreedbergThe Eye of the Lynx: Galileo His Friends and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press2002) p. 108.

51

Carla BenocciVilla Ludovisi (Roma: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato2010) pp. 95–96. On Cardinal Del Monte and his scientific interests see Zygmunt Wazbinski Il cardinale Francesco Maria del Monte (1549–1626) (Firenze: Olschki 1994) pp. 409–491; on his contacts with Galileo pp. 476–491.

59

Marcello Fagiolo“Vignola e Maccarone nei giardini vaticani,” in Studi su Jacopo Barozzi da Vignolaedited by Anna Maria Affanni and Paolo Portoghesi (Roma: Gangemi 2011) pp. 145–162 (147).

66

John Rupert Martin“Immagini della Virtù: The Paintings of the Camerino Farnese,” The Art Bulletin1956 382:91–112 p. 104.

67

A few essential titles are: Denis MahonStudies in Seicento Art and Theory (London: Warburg Institute1947) pp. 109–154 231–275; Silvia Ginzburg Nuove ricerche su Giovanni Battista Agucchi PhD diss. (Università di Pisa 1995); eadem “Domenichino e Giovanni Battista Agucchi” in Domenichino 1581–1641 exhibition catalogue (Roma Palazzo Venezia) edited by Richard E. Spear and others (Milano: Electa 1996) pp. 121–137.

74

Isabelle Pantin“New Philosophy and Old Prejudices: Aspects of the Reception of Copernicanism in a Divided Europe,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science1999 30:237–262 p. 247.

76

Ibid. p. 123.

79

Ibid. p. 152.

80

Ibid. pp. 139–144.

81

A few decades later in 1661we encounter such combination of heraldic praise political propaganda and scientific curiosity during the Royal Wedding of Cosimo the Third of Tuscany and Marguerite d’Orléans held in the Amphitheatre of the Boboli gardens in Florence. A giant Atlas was seen to appear from a rocky landscape carrying the celestial sphere on his shoulder. The globe opened during the various intermezzi which accompanied the entry of Cosimo as Hercules followed by two carriages representing the Sun and the Moon. Inside the Atlas four knights represented the Medicean Stars the satellites of Jupiter discovered by Galileo in 1610. See Luigi Zangheri “Il maxiautoma dell’atlante e Ferdinando Tacca” Psicon 1976 3:116–123. The full description of the apparato is published in Giovanni Andrea Moniglia Il mondo festeggiante (Firenze: Nella Stamperia di S.A.S. 1661). The stelle medicee are described pp. 49–50.

87

Clare Robertson“Silvio Antoniano and the Painted Decoration of the Villa Belvedere at Frascati,” Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana2003–2004 35:417–430.

91

See further Paula Findlen“Jokes of nature and jokes of knowledge: The playfulness of scientific discourse in early modern Europe,” Renaissance Quarterly1990 43:292–331.

92

Michel Serres“Gnomon. Les débuts de la géométrie en Grèce,” in Éléments d’histoire des sciencesedited by Michel Serres (Paris: Bordas 1986) pp. 95–153.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Figure 1

    Mario Bettini, Apiaria (Roma, 1642), frontispiece by Giuliano Dinarelli and Francesco Curti (Photo: Volker Remmert, Picturing the Scientific Revolution)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 2

    Pierre Miotte, frontispiece to Athanasius Kircher, Ars magna lucis et umbrae (Roma: Scheus, 1646) (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org; photograph in public domain)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 3a

    Dominique Barrière, Plan of the Villa Belvedere and its gardens, from Villa Aldobrandina Tusculana sive varii illius hortorum et frontium prospectus (Roma, 1647), p. 22; etching (Photo: Bibliotheca Hertziana)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 3b

    Detail of the sundial

  • View in gallery
    Figure 4a

    Matthias Greuter, Frascati. Disegnato e dato in luce da M. Greuter (Roma, 1620), engraving, detail of the Villa Belvedere (Photo: Bibliotheca Hertziana)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 4b

    Detail of the sundial

  • View in gallery
    Figure 5a

    Dominique Barrière, Teatro d’Acqua, etching, 1647, from Villa Aldobrandina Tusculana, p. 6. (Photo: Bibliotheca Hertziana)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 5b

    Detail of Atlas and Hercules

  • View in gallery
    Figure 6

    Giovanni Battista Falda, published by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi, Stanza de Venti, Fountain of Mount Parnassus in the theatre of Belvedere in Frascati, etching, ca. 1665–1691, 318×235mm, London, British Museum (1928,0713.8) (Photo: Trustees of the British Museum)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 7

    Ortensio Toro, published by Nicolo Van Aelst and Giovanni Battista de’ Rossi, Rota perpetua per trovar a quant hore si leva il sole e quando e mezzo giorno, 1594, engraving, 47.2×39.5cm, New York, Cooper-Hewitt Museum (1963-9-317) (Photo: Cooper-Hewitt Museum)

  • View in gallery
    Figure 8

    Dominique Barrière, Side view of the water theatre, etching, 1647, from Villa Aldobrandina Tusculana, p. 7 (Photo: Bibliotheca Hertziana)

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