The genesis and design of Michelangelo's Campidoglio

Cooper, James Gill, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Westfall, Carroll Willaim, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Barolsky, Paul, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard Guy, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

This dissertation focuses on the Campidoglio, the largest and most influential secular architectural design of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). Despite the as built complex's coherence and importance in the history o f architecture and urbanism, it does not follow Michelangelo's intentions. Little was built before Michelangelo's death and succeeding architects did not entirely understand or respect his designs. Shortly after his death, the French artist Etienne Duperac recorded what was claimed to be Michelangelo's final design in a series o f engravings. Close examination o f the engravings and comparative analysis with those portions actually built under Michelangelo's supervision confirms the ir validity. Analysis o f Michelangelo's designs and original drawings for other projects, including the San Lorenzo fagade, the Medici Chapel and the Laurentian Library in Florence, leads to new interpretations and identifications o f many drawings, and identifies important precedents for the Campidoglio project. This leads to a new understanding o f Michelangelo's design process in general and for the Campidoglio specifically. A revised chronology o f the design stages of the Campidoglio project is presented. It is argued that Michelangelo executed a master plan for the Campidoglio by 1538, and completed designs for the three palaces by the mid-1540s. Analysis o f the project as built in conjunction with the surviving graphic evidence allows Michelangelo's Campidoglio design to be reconstructed in computer model form. Comparative analysis o f the model and the as built project elucidates many differences. Their cumulative effect has a significant impact on the interpretation and meaning o f the project: Michelangelo's intention was to create a Renaissance forum fo r the secular government and people o f sixteenth century Rome. He conceived it as an urban stage for civic rituals associated with the governmental institution it housed, as well as a civic museum, which celebrated the glory o f Rome's past and the city's recent Renaissance. His carefully conceived urban design exploited existing conditions, linking the Campidoglio physically, visually and symbolically to the adjacent Forum Romanum and the Vatican across the city. This study leads to a new understanding o f Michelangelo's approach to architectural design and provides new insight into the specific form and meaning o f the Campidoglio and his other designs.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Campidoglio, Michelangelo Buonarroti, architectural design

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-18 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:33:46.

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