Dispareri in materia d’architectura et perspectiva is a treatise of the Renaissance by Martino Bassi in which he addresses important and highly relevant issues, including the relationship between the Gothic and Classical styles and the problem of visual perception of the work of art, hence perspective. In order to address these more general themes of sculpture and architecture, Bassi criticizes three works by Tibaldi, an Italian architect who was commissioned the architect of the Milan Cathedral in 1567. The three elements that are the source of criticism are the annunciation, the baptistery and the scurolo (the crypt). The debate regarding the annunciation is based on the possibility of integrating a double horizon into the perspective scheme of a representation. The second critical point is the choice of arranging a square colonnade with wide intercolumns around the baptistery. The third concerns the crypt, which is not in harmony with the style of the church. In order to polemicize and criticize what Tibaldi had done, Martino Bassi wrote a treatise composed of a sequence of letters, which can themselves be divided into two different types.
The first type is part of a fictitious exchange of letters between Martino Bassi and Alfonso N., a lord from Verona, whom the book was dedicated. In these letters, the two protagonists discuss and criticize what Tibaldi had developed and realized, and also discuss more general aspects. There are four of these letters: two after the preface of the treatise, one before the letters of famous architects, and the last one that closes the treatise. Thanks to these letters, a dialogue and discourse is created between Martino Bassi and Alfonso inside the book, in which the two exchange their opinions.
The second category contains letters from the four most famous architects of the time: Andrea Palladio, Vignola, Giorgio Vasari and Battista Bertano. All these important figures write their opinions on the question of Tibaldi’s works in their own letters. By summoning these architects, the concept of perspective, a fundamental point of the treatise, also returns. In fact the opinions of other architects allow the reader to get a different perspective on the problem.
Bassi’s decision to structure his treatise with a sequence of letters can also be seen as a sign of the emergence of public opinion, given that this type of controversy was until then confined to the manufacturers’ colleges and consequently poorly documented.
Speech – Perspective – Public opinion