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From Vitruvius to the Science Of Drawing

Daniele Barbaro’s Concept of “Scaenographia”

Filippo Camerota    Museo Galileo, Firenze, Italia    



Daniele Barbaro’s treatise on perspective is one of the most authoritative technical-scientific sources of the sixteenth century. Although largely based on the unpublished work of Piero della Francesca, the treatise had the precise and original purpose of filling a gap in the Vitruvian text about the contents of the so-called ‘scaenographia’, a discipline based on optical geometry of which Vitruvius provided only meagre and sibylline words. The subdivision of the treatise, examined here into the individual parts that constitute it, follows a clearly Vitruvian structure, with the first three parts dedicated to ichnographia (perspective drawing of plans), orthographaia (perspective drawing of solid bodies) and scaenographia (perspective drawing of the buildings and their ornaments), and with two other parts specifically dedicated to the measurements of the human body and to the drawing of the planisphere, themes treated by Vitruvius respectively in the third and ninth books of De architectura. In this sense, La pratica della perspettiva, published in 1568, should be considered as an integral text of the most authoritative commentary on Vitruvius’ I Dieci libri dell’architettura, published in 1556 and 1567.

Dec. 11, 2020
Oct. 7, 2020
July 29, 2020

Keywords: ScenographyArchitectural drawingLinear perspectiveDrawing instrumentsVitruviusProportionsAnamorphosisPlanisphere

Copyright: © 2020 Filippo Camerota. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.