Since the early decades of the twentieth century, there has been a steady interest in studies about Turin, the capital of the Savoyard state, which has generated a rich historiographic Italian and international record. Key foreign scholars and contributions in this field include A.E. Brinckmann (“History of Architecture” proceedings, 1957), R. Wittkower (“Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750”, 1958), R. Pommer (“Eighteenth-Century Architecture in Piedmont”, 1967), and H. Millon (“Filippo Juvarra”, 1984). Very often, the emphasis in these studies has been on what one might term ‘exceptional’ building sites and projects, in particular those by Guarino Guarini. Nevertheless, more recent studies have shown that by looking at different contexts, one can detect an ongoing and long-term refinement of construction techniques and of local traditions, which interacted with the knowledge and skills of the great protagonists of Savoyard architecture. For this reason, our research at the Polytechnic of Turin has recently embarked on a comparative investigation of various Savoy court residences, covering chronologically the mid-17th to the end of the 18th centuries. The goal is to draw together various strands of research carried out over the last few decades in relation to these buildings. There is rich, and often still unpublished data that emerged from restoration activity at such sites, which awaits studying and is tapped into during this project. These insights are complemented by a broad-ranging analysis which will look at how construction traditions (and innovations) interacted with developments in science, bureaucracy and the administration of the state, while also bearing in mind that many of the early Savoyard architects came from non-local contexts. The framework and operation of great public construction sites were already highly centralized by the late Middle Ages, and they became more refined as time progressed. There was a well-defined ‘chain of command’ involving public officials; the role of early architects was that of designing and creating structures, but also to ensure adequate technical implementation of a project and the supervision of the financial side of things. Major construction sites such as Rivoli, Venaria Reale, Castello del Valentino, Palazzo Ducale, Villa della Regina, to name but a few, would have brought together vast numbers of workers with varied skills. These would have included, among others, maestri da bosco (carpenters), minusieri, maestri da muro (craftsmen specialized in brick works), gilders and plasterers. They were often teams drawn from families from across Piedmont, but also from the lake areas of Switzerland and the state of Milan. These families of craftsmen held within them the permanence of traditional methods, but they were also able to interact with, and adopt innovation. This paper aims to offer some first insights into this research project by focusing on results from the first half of the 18th century. It will look at a number of specific construction sites, analyze relevant archival sources (contracts, ‘instructions’, the iconography of the project and the building site, and the reports of the controllers of the works), and compare these with the actual built product.

Tradition and Innovation: the construction of court palaces and the role of professional figures in eighteenth-century Piedmont / Burgassi, Valentina; Volpiano, Mauro. - STAMPA. - 1:(2020), pp. 275-286. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Seventh Annual Conference of the Construction History Society, University of Cambridge tenutosi a Cambridge nel 2-4 aprile 2020.

Tradition and Innovation: the construction of court palaces and the role of professional figures in eighteenth-century Piedmont

Valentina Burgassi;Mauro Volpiano
2020

Abstract

Since the early decades of the twentieth century, there has been a steady interest in studies about Turin, the capital of the Savoyard state, which has generated a rich historiographic Italian and international record. Key foreign scholars and contributions in this field include A.E. Brinckmann (“History of Architecture” proceedings, 1957), R. Wittkower (“Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750”, 1958), R. Pommer (“Eighteenth-Century Architecture in Piedmont”, 1967), and H. Millon (“Filippo Juvarra”, 1984). Very often, the emphasis in these studies has been on what one might term ‘exceptional’ building sites and projects, in particular those by Guarino Guarini. Nevertheless, more recent studies have shown that by looking at different contexts, one can detect an ongoing and long-term refinement of construction techniques and of local traditions, which interacted with the knowledge and skills of the great protagonists of Savoyard architecture. For this reason, our research at the Polytechnic of Turin has recently embarked on a comparative investigation of various Savoy court residences, covering chronologically the mid-17th to the end of the 18th centuries. The goal is to draw together various strands of research carried out over the last few decades in relation to these buildings. There is rich, and often still unpublished data that emerged from restoration activity at such sites, which awaits studying and is tapped into during this project. These insights are complemented by a broad-ranging analysis which will look at how construction traditions (and innovations) interacted with developments in science, bureaucracy and the administration of the state, while also bearing in mind that many of the early Savoyard architects came from non-local contexts. The framework and operation of great public construction sites were already highly centralized by the late Middle Ages, and they became more refined as time progressed. There was a well-defined ‘chain of command’ involving public officials; the role of early architects was that of designing and creating structures, but also to ensure adequate technical implementation of a project and the supervision of the financial side of things. Major construction sites such as Rivoli, Venaria Reale, Castello del Valentino, Palazzo Ducale, Villa della Regina, to name but a few, would have brought together vast numbers of workers with varied skills. These would have included, among others, maestri da bosco (carpenters), minusieri, maestri da muro (craftsmen specialized in brick works), gilders and plasterers. They were often teams drawn from families from across Piedmont, but also from the lake areas of Switzerland and the state of Milan. These families of craftsmen held within them the permanence of traditional methods, but they were also able to interact with, and adopt innovation. This paper aims to offer some first insights into this research project by focusing on results from the first half of the 18th century. It will look at a number of specific construction sites, analyze relevant archival sources (contracts, ‘instructions’, the iconography of the project and the building site, and the reports of the controllers of the works), and compare these with the actual built product.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11583/2846107