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Glorifying the City in Counter-Reformation Italy: Girolamo Righettino Rediscovered

The Oak Room, Fellowship House
November 9, 2016
05:30 PM to 07:30 PM
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Garden and Landscape Studies Public Lecture | Denis Ribouillault, University of Montreal

Girolamo Righettino is a fascinating character largely forgotten by modern historians. A theologian and a Lateran canon, he lived in Venice in the mid-sixteenth century, where, for his own amusement, he started to draw city views with elaborate ornaments and learned allegories. These extraordinary drawings were compared at the time to examples by celebrated mapmakers Abraham Ortelius and Gerard Mercator. Newly discovered documents give us important insights into the only surviving work that he executed: the view of the city of Turin (1583), preserved in the city’s State Archive. Situated within his religious and political milieu, Righettino appears not only as a dilettante draftsman but also as a deft diplomat who used his skills to serve his religious order and his Venetian patrons. His city views constitute an important case study that demonstrates the intricate relationships among religious and territorial power, politics and urban space, and allegory and topography in Counter-Reformation Italy.

Denis Ribouillault is associate professor in early modern art history and graduate program director at the University of Montreal, Canada, specializing in cultural landscape, garden studies, and cartography. He received his PhD at Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris in 2006 under the direction of Philippe Morel, and taught at Pantheon-Sorbonne and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (2006–2008) before moving to Canada. He was the Florence J. Gould Fellow at Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2008–2009 and received another residential grant at the French Academy in Rome.

Ribouillault was a summer fellow at Dumbarton Oaks in 2003, and he participated in the 2007 symposium “Recent Issues in Italian Garden Studies. Sources, Methods and Theoretical Perspectives,” organized by Michel Conan. His monograph on Roman villas and gardens, Rome en ses jardins. Paysage et pouvoir au XVIe siècle, was published in 2013; he has also coedited two volumes: Sacred Landscape. Landscape as Visual Exegesis in Early Modern Europe (2011, with Michel Weemans) and De la peinture au jardin (2016, with Hervé Brunon). His current projects focus on scientific culture in the gardens of early modern Rome, the figure of the draftsman in the landscape in early modern art, and the history of the urban landscape, especially city views.

Image: Representation of the city of Turin, produced in 1583 by Girolamo Righettino. Image courtesy Biblioteca antica dell'Archivio di Stato di Torino.

View a video of the lecture here.

This lecture was approved for 1 LACES,