Vari disegni de architettura ornati de porte – the several architectural drawings with door ornaments
This work was written by Bernardino Radi in 1619 in Rome. The book consists of fifty copperplate prints. It shows a large selection of fictitious gate and entrance situation of the Renaissance.
From the title page to the last drawn entrance, everything is always decorated with extreme details. With the very linear and filigree technique of copperplate engraving, well curved lettering is captured as well as the very angular and massive buildings. Spatial representation is indicated with hatching, a juxtaposition or crossing of scribed lines.
All these fictitious entrances are symmetrical, almost repetitive. The doors are adorned with horizontal lintels complemented with triangular or semi-circular ornamental gables. Some entrances have balconies. The portals are overflowing with rich frescoes, ornaments and any kind of decorations.
In the only text of this work, Bernardino Vari explains what drove him to write this book. He marvels at the architecture in Rome and how almost its original beauty has been restored. He dedicates this book to his Lord. It is not clear whether it is God, the Pope, the King or his professor. Vari was supported, protected and was pushed forward in his studies by Him. In return, he gives him his full attention, wants to be his closest servant and pays Him the most humble homage. So, this whole book is addressed to a single personality. He does not thank his family or friends but honors his Lord alone. Between these two parties, the effort and investments do not seem to be in balance. There is a lack of balance, of symmetry. That is why Bernardino Radi feels so guilty and dedicates the book to his master.
Since in this printing technique the incised is printed, a whole copper plate is pressed on the paper at a time under a lot of pressure. In this work, the plates are of different sizes and always leave a blank border on the sides. When printed, this unprinted part forms a protruding edge . With thin paper, the printed shines through on the back. This is also the case with “Vari disegni de architettura ornati de porte”. This means that double-sided printing is not possible. A rhythm of blank page and printed page is formed in the bound book. The smearing print of the turned page acts like a memory, another softer version of what has already been seen. This transparency helps to retain a certain symmetry in the book, even so only every second page is printed.
“Da questo mosso io a pubblicare alle stampe queste mie fatighe de me inventate, ho ardito di fregiare questo mio libro, e ornar questi ornamenti del suo gloriosissimo nome, invitato dall’application che ha sempre mostrato V.S… con animo corico, alla protettione di queli che in qualche virtuoso studio han procurato avantarsi.”