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University of Virginia Art Museum Presents Variety, Archeology, and Ornament Renaissance Architectural Prints from Column to Cornice

The University of Virginia Art Museum presents Variety, Archeology, and Ornament Renaissance Architectural Prints from Column to Cornice, a new exhibition on view August 26 – December 18, 2011.

Focusing on the crucial role of prints in the transition from manuscript to printed architectural treatises during the Renaissance, Variety, Archeology, and Ornament: Renaissance Architectural Prints from Column to Cornice re-evaluates the role of ornament, primarily through a series of single-leaf architectural prints that played a conspicuous role in determining the concept of the five orders of architecture between c. 1515 and c. 1550. Such prints accomplished this by propagating highly detailed images previously available only through architectural sketchbooks of limited circulation, thereby defining architecture and fixing the image of antiquity down to the age of Enlightenment. They thus served as a bridge between the fragmentary knowledge of classical architectural forms in the fifteenth century and the published treatises of Serlio, Palladio, and Vignola, which standardized ornament and the orders in the second half of the sixteenth century.

The University of Virginia Art Museum and Special Collections are fortunate to have major holdings in this field including early printed architectural treatises and a rare and crucial collection of prints identified as by Master G.A. with the Caltrop. These works, together with strategic loans from The Art Institute of Chicago, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library of Columbia University, Canadian Centre for Architecture, The Getty Research Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, New York University Institute of Fine Arts Library, University of MaryWashington Simpson Library, and Yale Center for British Art will allow the presentation of a nuanced consideration of the issues surrounding architectural ornament across the period of the High Renaissance. The subject will also have relevance for practicing architects and students of contemporary architecture in light of major firms such as Herzog & de Meuron revisiting of the subject of ornaments. Above all, the exhibition will afford a unique opportunity for the study of rare books and prints drawn from several national libraries.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Albemarle Magazine, Arts$, B. Herbert Lee ’48 Endowed Fund, The Hook, Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book, the Page-Barbour and Richards Lectures Committee, the School of Architecture, and the U.Va. Art Museum Volunteer Board.

Curated by Michael Waters and Cammy Brothers, Associate Professor of Architectural History

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