Vincenzo Scamozzi, Book Use and Architectural Practice
Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
The rise of the illustrated architectural treatise in the 16th century is related to the newly professional status of the architect. Nevertheless, the question of how books were received and used, both in the context of professional practice and the writing of new treatises, remains obscure. Annotations by early modern architect-readers are the most valuable, though understudied, documents available to shed light on the question of contemporary response. Using the marginalia in the books of the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548-1616) as a case study, this paper describes the way in which Scamozzi used books as a vital facet of his architectural education. Scamozzi owned and annotated at least five copies of Vitruvius: Philandrier, 1544 and 1550; Barbaro, 1556 and 1567 (Italian); 1567 (Latin); a recently discovered copy of Serlio (1551) and Cataneo (1567). This paper will analyze Scamozzi’s reading methods, which derive from established humanist methods for scholarly study and include expressive non-verbal codes, interlinear notes, close reading and commentary. By the late sixteenth-century, the amount of printed material available to the architect was substantial and Scamozzi’s marginalia provides a map to this network of information. His note-taking arises, in part, from the need to digest written material and make it retrievable for later use. At the same time, Scamozzi reads as a practicing professional, commenting on, correcting and grafting design issues into the verbal discourse. His notes are a unique document of the way in which early modern architects negotiated between written words and visual forms, affording passage between the realms of theory and professional practice.