Thursday, May 08, 2014

Bishop Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz

The  cathedral of Sant’Ambrogio  in Vigevano, Northern Italy

The city of Vigevano lies about 35km from Milan and Pavia in Northern Italy

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

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 G

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 LIX

Plate 33 St George Slays the Dragon : Two Views

Plate 34 St George and the Dragon