Fragments of Order. Constructing Renaissance Architecture in the Low Countries
This PhD project will revisit the first developments of ‘Renaissance’ architecture of the Low Countries by focusing on the architectural fragments in early sixteenth-century painting in its interaction with the print medium. Interest in antiquity led to creatively combining classical elements of architecture in paintings, prints, and tapestry. However, once the theory of the Five Column Orders developed in Rome, art theorists from Italy and those from the Low Countries described these assemblages as ‘monstrous’. Pieter Coecke van Aelst especially condemned the ‘confusing’ proportioning in paintings and the careless reassembling of fragments in his ‘illegal’ translation of Serlio’s Books of Architecture. Neither Coecke nor his contemporaries, such as Jan Gossaert and Barend van Orley, have been studied for their use of antique-seeming fragments as indication of antique architecture. Nor has this visual strategies of representing architectural space in antique guise through (re-)composition been systematically connected with contemporary architecture. The role prints had in offering model fragments must be examined in depth as well. It was through prints that the architectural fragments quickly spread through the whole of Europe. The dissertation will focus on a well-defined corpus, chiefly dated between 1509, when Jan Gossaert arrived in Italy and 1539, when Coecke’s first translation of Serlio came out and is situated on the predominant artistic axis Antwerp-Brussels.