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Books  >   Arts and Photography : Art : Art History : General : 

Trattato delle Piante and Immagini de Sacri Edifizi di Terra Santa

Amico, Bernardino
Sullivan, David
Halwas, Robin (Narrator)

Published:February 4, 1999

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Description: University of Chicago Magazine, October 2004
Octavo editions give readers a firsthand experience of a milestone text: each includes page-by-page views, expert commentaries, and appropriate "marginalia."

Product Description:
Trattato delle Piante and Immagini de Sacri Edifizi di Terra Santa (Plans and images of the sacred edifices of the Holy Land) is a series of measured (exactly observed) drawings of buildings in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Cairo, executed by Bernardino Amico, a member of the Friars Minor of the Observance, between 1593 and 1597. The work was first printed in Rome in 1610 with engravings by Antonio Tempesta; a second edition, extensively revised by the author, was published in Florence in 1620 with etchings by Jacques Callot. Since the second edition represents the author's final version of the text, it is the natural choice for reproduction here.

Although the tradition of drawing the Christian holy places stretches back at least to 685 AD, the modern era in illustration properly begins with Amico's drawings; no artist before him aspired to record Jerusalem and its monuments systematically and with topographical precision. Amico sometimes simplifies and alters what he observes, but scrupulously advises the reader of any distortion, as in Chapter XXXII, where he admits to "correcting" the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by substituting round arches for pointed ones.

When the methodological investigation of ancient remains in Jerusalem began in the middle of the nineteenth century, Amico's drawings were especially influential, and many scholars attested to his accuracy. Archaeological excavation in modern times has diminished the utility of the drawings, however, their value in the historical reconstruction of the shrines, and as witnesses to the former state of holy places altered and sometimes destroyed, has not waned.

Commentary by Robin Halwas, searchable English translation.

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