In the book “Vari disegni de architettura ornati de porte” by Bernardino Radi, various design options for doors are shown.
The book has a very simple structure and is structured as follows: After a title page and an equally detailed emblem, perhaps the author’s family coat of arms, there follows a preface written in Italian by Bernardino Radi. Apart from these pages, the book receives no further explanations. Radi, however, lists his name, the origin Cortona and the note “inventor” on each sketch.
Then 50 entrances or archways are sketched, all of which are richly decorated. All the doorways depicted not only fulfil the simple function of a passageway, but probably also serve representative purposes. It may be assumed that only very wealthy people could afford such entrance portals. The entrances were probably built to emphasise the wealth and social status of the builders.
Most examples are decorated with columns or ornaments in various shapes and patterns. In the centre above the archway, all plans have open spaces, possibly for an inscription, coat of arms or illustration in honour of the builder. Although no indications of the materiality of the entrances are apparent, the portals appear massive in the sketches and are probably mostly constructed of stone. This may reinforce the impression of power, strength, indestructibility and lasting success of the builder. In addition, the proportions of the entrances are such that they can only be realised in very high rooms or on the facade side over several storeys. This point also underlines the wealth of the builder who can afford high or multi-storey buildings.
From my point of view, it makes perfect sense to devote an entire book to the doors and especially the entrances of a building. After all, an entrance portal is often the first impression that a guest gets of a building and is correspondingly important for the image that the building owner wants to convey. Moreover, entrances are also perceptible to people who do not have access to the building. In this way, the social status of the builder or owner of the building can also be emphasised to passers-by and the “common people”. For representation, entrances are thus probably one of the most important components of a building.
This book may have served as a catalogue of ideas and a source of inspiration for wealthy builders who wanted to give their buildings a representative character. It may also have served architects of the time as a model for their projects.
Keywords: representation, first impression, inspiration