The cathedral of Sant’Ambrogio in Vigevano, Northern Italy
The city of Vigevano lies about 35km from Milan and Pavia in Northern Italy
It has a beautiful cathedral or Duomo.
There has been a church on the site since at least AD 963
The present Cathedral was begun by Francesco II Sforza (a local boy made good) in 1532 but was not consecrated until 10th March 1612
The present facade was not constructed until 1678
The facade is high baroque and faces towards the Piazza Ducale and the side of Via Roma.
The front is slightly curved and is joined to the church only once, the rest is made up of a wing that connects the front of the church with the rest of the square.
It has an interesting geometrical relationship to the square which is cleverly adjusted to bring the ancient cathedral into a line perpendicular to and centered on the axis of the piazza
The design with four bays rather than three or five masks the church’s skewed orientation to the square
The portal on the far left leads simply to a street
The facade was designed and constructed by Vigevano`s then bishop, the great polymath Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (May 23, 1606 — September 8, 1682 )
He was a Spanish Catholic scholastic philosopher, ecclesiastic, mathematician and writer.
He was a Cistercian monk and very widely travelled
He was a child prodigy but entered the Church
He studied in Spain and the Low Countries
He was made Spanish envoy to the court of Emperor Ferdinand III in Prague
He held a number of offices before becoming bishop including being the Abbot of Melrose Abbey in Scotland
He became bishop of two Italian sees in which he was resident before coming to his final see at Vigevano
Lucas Vorsterman I (1595–1675)
Portrait of Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz, seated behind a table, holding a book and wearing a biretta
281 mm x 186 mm
The British Museum, London
He wrote many works on many subjects.
He had a special affinity for Architecture
In Vigevano he wrote and had published Architectura civil recta y obliqua : considerada y dibuxada en el Templo de Ierusalen ... promovida a suma perfeccion en el templo y palacio de S. Lorenço cerca del Escurial ... (1678)
He argued the superiority of ‘oblique’ architecture to ‘straight’ (Vitruvian) architecture
He censured Bernini’s designs for the colonnade around St. Peter’s Square and staircase (Scala Regia) in the Vatican, as well as the equestrian statue of the Emperor Constantine
He was obsessed with geometry and optical distortion
In his own account, he mastered architectural techniques with Cistercian monks as a young novice at the Monasterio de la Santa Espina (Valladolid),
He began writing this work in 1624, and in 1635 commenced production of the 161 copper matrices eventually used for its illustrations
However his only known finished architectural work is the facade of the cathedral of Vigevano
Here are some of the beautiful plates from this work
They were engraved by Bugatti, Simone Durelli and Cesare Laurentino, and one by Barend de Bailliu. :
Plate A The Temple of Jerusalem
Plate B The Brass Vessel in which the Holy Priests Would Wash
See 1 Chronicles 18:8
"Necnon de Thebath et Chun, urbibus Adarezer aeris plurimum, de quo fecit Salomon mare aeneum, et columnas, et vasa aenea."
Plate C Vessels in the Temple of Jerusalem
Plate H Monastery of the Escorial in Madrid
Plate 29 Map Atlas
Plate 36 Eclipse of the Sun 10th June 1676
Plate 13 Palatium Reguli on the Island of S Dominici discovered by Spain
Plate XXX Voluta III
Plate XXXV Voluta VIII
PLate XLII Ionic Capitals
Plate LI Column from the Temple of Vulcan
Plate 33 St George Slays the Dragon : Two Views
Plate 34 St George and the Dragon