In 1548 Walther Ryff was the first to publish a translation of the Latin book “Vitruvius”. With pictures and comments Walther Ryff supplements the ancient text of the Roman architect Vitruvius. Ryff’s work became one of the most important architectural theory books of the (German) Renaissance.
By title “Vitruvius. Des allernamhafftigisten unnd hocherfarnesten römischen Architecti unnd kunstreichen Werck oder Baumaisters Marci Vitruuii Pollionis Zehen Bücher” it is clear to the reader that Walther Ryff is quoting the Roman architect Vitruvius and his work. Also, in this title Ryff’s esteem and veneration becomes clear.
The book “Vitruvius” first contains a preface in which Walther Ryff describes his work as “a key to all mathematical and mechanical arts”. Short summaries of Vitruvius’ ten books on architecture follow this preface. A registry of important architectural names and words concludes the first part. The main part of the book consists of the Ten Books on Architecture. Each book begins with a preface that contains a direct address to the emperor or an anecdotal introduction to the subject.
The logical structure of the ten books leads the reader deeper and deeper into the world of architecture. Beginning with basic architectural terms and principles in the first book and information on building materials in the second book, Walther Ryff (or Vitruvius) imparts a fundamental knowledge of architecture. This is followed by detailed explanations of temple construction, the architecture of public and private buildings, and even interior design and color theory. Pictures and illustrations enrich the text and provide additional information. Books eight to ten are not so much dedicated to architecture but rather to engineering. Walther Ryff concludes the 700-page book with a final word and commentary.