International Workshop: Methodology in Research of Protonational Institutions in Visual Arts

International Workshop: Methodology in Research of Protonational Institutions in Visual Arts held in Dubrovnik (14-17 May 2018) had the specific thematic focus on the formation of proto-national networks of so-called Schiavoni/Illyrians between Italy and Eastern Adriatic coast and their impact on the transmigration of artists and architectural and artistic objects and designs, taken as a paradigmatic case study for a number of important research problems of art history as a global discipline. Presentations and discussion took place in IUC Dubrovnik while fieldwork was organized on various location in the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Morning sessions:

Susanne Kubersky (Bibliotheca Hertziana): National churches in Rome in comparative perspective

Jasenka Gudelj (University of Zagreb): St. Jerome of Croats in Rome and the artistic exchange with the East Adriatic

Bernard Aikema (Università di Verona): National Scuole in Venice

Tanja Trška (University of Zagreb): Scuola di San Giorgio e Trifone in Venice

Anita Ruso (University of Zagreb): Ragusan Networks and the Artistic Exchange

Giuseppe Capriotti (Università di Macerata): Art of the Immigrant communities in the Marche region

Sabine Frommel (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris): Foreign Colleges in Bologna

Danko Šourek (University of Zagreb) & Daniel Premerl (Institut of Art History): Illyrian-Hungarian college in Bologna

Participants sessions:


Conceiving the new capital of the Order of Malta: Valletta as ideal city of Renaissance

Studying the archives of the Knights of St. John, an ancient religious and military order of international character, provides us a privileged overview on the history of Europe from the 11thcentury until today. The immense development of the Order’s heritage led the Hospitallers to build a complex hierarchical and administrative organization, which provided a mechanism that connected together the central government and peripheral institutions. The Langues, or nationes, in which the Knights since the 13th and 14th centuries were organised according to linguistic and geographic criteria, acted as political, administrative and cultural centers towards an official residence at the centre of government. Compared to the other military-religious orders, the Order of Malta is characteristic of both the solid hierarchical administrative structure, all but intact during the centuries, and its property and territorial nature allowing to widen continuously its international rule, from Jerusalem to Rhodes and Malta, and the then known Europe. It is very important to understand the order administrative hierarchy to

reconstruct the direct repercussions on the international goods through the system basically of recommendation, which consolidation is – from the Modern Age – an essential aspect for the Knights of Malta to get the economic resources needed to achieve the construction of the so-called “City of the Order”, Valletta, from 1565.

The relations existing between the Grand Masters, the popes and the Italian princes to the end of Cinquecento find a direct confirmation in the architectural feature too: the epistolary correspondence between the Emperor Charles V and the military-religious order following the deed of donation of the Maltese Island in 1530, and the one between the Grand Master Jean de Valette and Cosimo I de’Medici concur to the invention of a city mirroring, also from an architectural point of view, the Christian power in the Mediterranean Sea, as the Order of Malta was. At the end of Cinquecento the ideas about ideal cities topic proliferate: only think about Vitry-le François (1545), Carlentini and Palmanova (1593). The greatest military engineers of the period are called into the more important Italian and foreign States to achieve the ambitions of popes, dukes, princes and emperors, simplifying the style migration of the late Renaissance architectural language in all Europe. The journeys of these famous military engineers from a city to another involve a direct repercussion on the architectural language choices, both in the measure of a constant exchange with the local workers, and as it happens in Valletta, the capital of the order. Moreover, there is a symbiotic relationship between the engineers the order chose, bringing new urban architectural models, and the Maltese workers, grown up in their tradition, handing on the late Renaissance style also to the most minute settlements. Valletta, conceived by the military engineer Francesco Laparelli and new capital of the order of saint Jean of Jerusalem, with its geometry and regularity, appeared to be based on the fundamental principles of the city during the Renaissance period. In this European context, the knights project Valletta as their monumental capital, to show in the other European countries the power and the prestige of the Order in the Mediterranean region.The discovery and identification of these sources, today preserved in different holding institutions although previously part of an ancient and unitary archive, it becomes possible not only to analyse the Renaissance’s influences of architecture on Valletta, but also to identify and define the role aswell as the identity of an ancient instition. 


The Preservation of Destruction

Cities are the physical record of history. They act as open time capsules of the culture of place. The role of Historic Preservation has been to protect extant works deemed significant to convey that historical narrative to future generations. Halting the destruction of urban environments is the foundation principle of Historic Preservation.

However, cities throughout history have been the victims of multiple scales of destruction, both planned and unplanned. Often, the areas of destruction are repaired, replaced and forgotten – a form of urban amnesia. The memory of these destructive events is the corollary to that historic preservation narrative. They are essential for a complete understanding of urban environments.

This paper will describe the importance of preserving urban events of destruction. It will explore precedents, cataloging the various ways catastrophic events have been absorbed and commemorated. Covering known examples (London Fire of 1666, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial, the 9/11 Memorial/Museum, etc.) as well as lesser known events [collapse of the Campanile in Venice in 1902, the Los Angeles Times Building Bombing of 1910, the Bath School Massacre of 1927, etc.), the book will illustrate how these events remain embedded within the fabric of the city, shaping their future narratives as strongly as what has been preserved.

The paper will also address historical incidences of attempts at erasure — the collective urban amnesia after the shock of horrific and terrifying events (the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, the Dresden Frauenkirche rebuilding after the WWII Fire Bombing of 1945, etc.). Under what circumstances does an urban population choose to remember and when does an urban population choose to forget?

This paper will add to the current discourse around Historic Preservation, expanding the definition of what is deserving of preservation. A fuller appreciation of the forces that shape and form our cities will be the goal of this presentation. Use in curriculum development in Historic Preservation programs as a resource for new avenues of thought in the field is a desired outcome of this project.


Scuola di Ateneo di Architettura e Design “Eduardo Vittoria”, sede di Ascoli Piceno:

Computerized management of the energy efficiency of cultural heritage

The EU and national legislation related to energy saving and restoration of existing buildings is applied in a limited way in the case of heritage-listed buildings.

The limited application of the rules, for the reduction of energy consumption for Cultural Heritage, has generated a lack of interest regarding this topic, one of the consequents is the lack of reduction in operating, and maintenance costs.  This makes it hard for the administrations to maintain and manage public properties. It should be recognized that whenever action is needed on a context of value, whether it be artistic, historical, architectural, landscape, natural or otherwise, the primary goal, for its transmission to the future, must be the proper conservation.

Even the measures to improve energy efficiency firstly should pursue this objective, considering energy efficiency a tool of protection, rather than an inevitable process of change in opposition to conservation needs. The research project is oriented to the development of a methodology for the investigation of public historical building heritage in order to develop a management tool enabling data collection and processing providing guidelines for public administration in terms of energy efficiency.

The research work will be applied to a case study, in part already exanimated during my Master degree thesis, pointed to the communication for the enhancement of architectural heritage building in the city of Ascoli Piceno.


The Renaissance and Baroque anti-seismic construction: the case of Palazzo ducale dei Varano in Camerino

The research stems from the study of the University of Camerino main building and from the analysis of its constructive evolution, aiming to deepen the theme of historical techniques developed against the effect of telluric movements. Among the major civil architectures of the Renaissance, Palazzo ducale dei Varano in Camerino is almost unknown both to the general public and to the international scientific literature, but it is interesting, not just for its style. Struck by the last earthquakes (1997, 2016), the building is the result of constructive interventions capable of opposing the earthquakes, started in the XIII century and still in progress. The reports about restoration written by Carlo Marchionni (1762) and Andrea Vici (1800) are unique documents, drafted at the turn of the great earthquake of 1799. Nevertheless, we can imagine that even in the XVI and XVII century have been made choices aimed at preventing damage from possible earthquakes, that will be related to treaties about anti-seismic methods, and to the interventions elsewhere carried out, as in the case of Dubrovnik.

The comparison with what happened in the city of Dubrovnik during the reconstructions of 1520 and 1667 earthquakes will be very important as well as their impact on the circulation of knowledge, works and architectural projects and on the transmigration of artists, forms and visual norms between the Italian artistic centers and the Maritime Republic. The Palazzo Varano is therefore an emblematic example of anti-seismic systems used in the pre contemporary age, and of their sought integration with the aesthetics and functionality of buildings; the work can provide essential and innovative information on how to intervene today on the architectural heritage without distorting its formal and constructive character.


Altarpieces of scuole nazionali in Venice between 1450 and 1650

During the early modern period, confraternities or scuole, had an important role in Venetian social and political structure. They were lay organizations of devotional or artisan character divided in scuole grandi and scuole piccole, depending on their importance within Venetian society. National confraternities or scuole nazionali presented specific organizations that gathered members on the national basis. There was a significant number of national confraternities in Venice. Some of the most important ones will be mentioned: Scuola di Sant’ Ambrogio, Scuola di San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, Scuola di Vergine Maria e San Gallo degli Albanesi, Scuola di Sant’Ambrogio dei Milanesi, Scuola del Rosario dei Tedeschi, Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. The idea of national confraternities was to provide charitable assistance to their members while maintaining their national identity. This concept would be reflected in the altarpieces commissioned by scuole nazionali, mainly through the iconography based on saints and iconographic themes specific for a certain nation. Using local motifs specific for their cities of origin and commissioning local artists, scuole nazionali made significant contribution to Venetian art.


The Architectural Commissions of Dubrovnik’s »New« Noble Families

The paper presents events succeeding the great earthquake of 1667 in Dubrovnik, when a number of common families was accepted as new members of Dubrovnik nobility, and tried to publicly present their new status through architectural activities. Even though there were at least thirteen families that was accepted among nobles after the earthquake, there are only two buildings certainly connected to them as commissioners: the city palace owned by the Vodopić family and the summer residence of the Bozdari family. Both buildings are of the representative characteristics, with Bozdari residence standing out as a luxury summerhouse (re)built by the Venetian architect Marino Groppeli at the beginning of the 18th century. These commissions are also notable for introducing new ideas and styles from abroad to Dubrovnik architecture. However, to complete the picture of »new« noble families and their desire for presenting their power and status through architecture it is necessary to conduct a more detailed research of the known commissions and identify more of them.