Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A document for Sangallo's dome in Loreto


While searching for information about Giuliano da Sangallo's 1499-1500 dome
on the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto in Italy, I came across an inscription
in Italian written by Giuliano himself that seems to recount the placement of
the final stone in the dome designed and built by him in Loreto.

Perhaps the inscription is imbedded in the dome itself since this appears to be Giuliano's
own attempt to write it down in trial form to measure the length of the ITALIAN words for
final incision into marble. The whole is written in his sketchbook (now in Siena in the Biblioteca Pubblica, published in 2015) in capital letters with various spellings and non-punctuation. Here are four versions of the inscription:

Original Italian capital letters                                         Original Italian without caps

AL NOME DI DIO E DELA GRORI                                     Al nome e dela grori
OSA MADONA SA MARIA SEN                                        osa madona sa maria sen
PRE VERGINE IN MEMORIA COME                              pre vergine in memoria come
SABATO ADORE XV ADI XXIII DI                                sabato adore XV adi XXIII di
MAGO M CCCCC IO GIULIANO DI                              mago M CCCCC io Giuliano di
FRANCHESCHO DA S. GHALLO FIORETINO            Frenchesco da s. Ghallo Fioretino
CHON GRANDISIMA SOLENITA EDIVO                   chon grandisima solenita edivo
ZIONE E PRESISIONE MURAI LUTIMA              zione e presisione murai lutima petra
PETRA DELA CHUPOLA DISANTA  MARIA DELORET dela chupola disantamariadeloreto
O DI GCHEIDTO CIDIA GRATIA SICHONSER           di gcheidto cidia gratia sichonser
VI LUNGHO TENPO FAME DIA GRATIA CHE           vilungho tempo fame dia gratia che
ALA FINE MIA IO SALVI LANIMA MIA                      ala fine mia io salvi l’anima mia
IN SECHULUM SICHULORUM AMENM                     in sechulum cihulorum amenm
     SANTA MARIA DELORETA                                      Santa Maria deloreta

Corrected modern Italian version:
Al nome di Dio e della Glori
osa Madonna Santa Maria sem
pre Vergine in memoria come
Sabato ad ore XV al di XXIII di Maggio 1500
Io Giuliano di Francesco da Sangallo Fiorentino
Con grandissima solennita e divozione
E precisione murai l’ultima
pietra della cupola di Santa Maria di Loreto
di che chiedo dio ci dia gratia, si conserve
lungo tempo fame dia gratia che alla fine mia
io salvi l’anima mia in secolo secolorum Amen.
Santa Maria di Loreto

Corrected modern English version:
In the name of God and of the Glorious (his version is Grorious)
Madonna Santa Maria always a Virgin
in memory of how Saturday at 3 o’clock in the
afternoon on the 23rd of May 1500
I, Giuliano, son of Francesco, da Sangallo the Florentine
with great solemnity and devotion
and precision, walled in the last stone
of the cupola of Santa Maria di Loreto
For which I ask God to bless us, preserve
our fame for a long time. May he give grace that
at the end of my life I may save my soul for
centuries to come. Amen. Santa Maria di Loreto. 

Even if this inscription was never inserted into the building, the immediacy of the
moment he records is so wonderfully intense that we are transported back to the
scene of his placing the last stone in the cupola. He also conveys to us his own
simple faith and his hope that his building will be his pathway into heaven as he
has constructed the dome for God and the Virgin.

A remarkable document to come across in a notebook of his sketches for and of other buildings
in Rome, Ostia, Naples, and Milan. A glimpse, a "tranche de vie," (slice of life) for one of the great Italian architects of the 15th century.
University Reprints, 2015, orig. from the Biblioteca Pubblica di Siena.

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