Image : Palazzo Tursi, via Garibaldi (formerly Strada Nuova), Genoa: elevation of the facade, circa 1622.
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
History can obscure the origins of a work, and for a while it was assumed (or even wished) that Peter Paul Rubens was the artist of the drawings used in his book I Palazzi di Genova , first printed by the Plantin Press in Antwerp in 1622. It is now known that the drawings, were by other – and often unnamed – artists. This image is that of the façade of Palazzo Tursi, a building designed by Giovanni Ponzello and located on Genoa’s via Garibaldi.
This drawing is from the RIBA’s 1663 two-part edition of Ruben’s 1622 book, his only publication dedicated to architecture. The engravings inside are based on drawings, a number of which are now held by the RIBA, that he collected on his travels.
These pieces indicate that Rubens, more famous for decorating the interior of buildings with his paintings and altarpieces, had a keen interest in architecture. I Palazzi di Genova was a channel to disseminate Renaissance ideas and reveals Ruben’s support for the classical style that he saw in Italy and subsequently, after his return to Antwerp, applied to his own home and studio, the Rubenshuis .
References (available from the British Architectural Library , RIBA)
- Savage, N.,[et al.] 2003. Early printed books 1478-1840: catalogue of the British Architectural Library Early Imprints Collection. London: Bowker-Saur. vol.5, pp.2725-6
- Herremans, V., December 2011. Rubens as architect, Antwerp. Burlington Magazine . vol. 153, no. 1305, pp. 838-839.