Great Masters Offer Rare Views at the Carlos Museum

Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza: Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome

By Sarah McFee and Margaret Shufeldt

Story Photo

The city of Rome is the focus of an exhibition at the Carlos Museum showcasing more than 130 works of art and offering visitors in Atlanta an opportunity to travel to one of the most fascinating cultural capitals of the world.

Rome is explored through three major themes— Antichità, Teatro, and Magnificenza—in maps, views, and books from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Antichità includes the Anteiquaeurbis imago, Pirro Ligorio's 1561 map in twelve plates reconstructing the ancient city. This spectacular work is the focal point of a gallery devoted to images recording the antiquarian interests of the Italian Renaissance—a time when humanist scholars sought to reconstruct Rome a sit was in antiquity by studying coins, inscriptions, fragments, and the city's ruins.

The Teatro of the seventeenth century is anchored by an impression of Giovanni Battista Falda's 1676 Nuova Pianta. This and other works record the efforts of the seventeenth-century popes to refocus attention on the modern city through urban interventions known as "theaters" or "teatri." Piazzas were broadened and opened up to become stages where the life of the city took place and the power of the church could be asserted, the most striking example of which is St. Peter's Square. Falda's many etchings show the theaters of the Baroque city.

The Magnificenza of the eighteenth century features Giovanni Battista Nolli's Pianta Grande and Giuseppe Vasi's Prospetto dell'alma città di Roma. Also included are numerous views by Giovanni Battista Piranesifrom the museum's collection and a copy of Jean Barbault's Les plus beaux monuments de Rome ancienne, among other items from Emory's rare book collections. Nolli's map is an example of the rational, scientific thinking of the Enlightenment. Vasi follows in Falda's footsteps, making an encyclopedic collection of views of contemporary Rome, while Piranesi takes anarchaeological interest in the city and creates strikingly dramatic, imaginative views of the ancient monuments.

A Virtual Experience of Rome

Sarah McPhee, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Art History at Emory and co-curator of the exhibition, worked with Jordan Williams and Erik Lewittof plexus r + d to develop Virtual Rome, a three-dimensional, virtual experience. Grounded in the celebrated bird's-eye-view map of Giovanni BattistaFalda, published in 1676, Virtual Rome subsumes the fine detail of hundreds of etched views of the city made by the young artist.

Falda's two-dimensional map—part of an extraordinary collection made available to the Carlos Museum by Vincent J. Buonanno—was transformed into a virtual, walkable Rome using the gaming platform known as nVis360. A team of scholars, architects, and modelers documented Falda's Rome in maps and views, checking Falda's data against Rome today, the surveyed map of 1748 by Giambattista Nolli, and the seventeenth-century ichnographic and surveyed maps that survive in the Roman archives.

The exhibition is on view through November 17.

Margaret Shufeldt, former curator of the museum's Works on Paper collection, and Sarah McPhee, Emory's Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Art History, are co-curators of the exhibition.

Email the editor