Site drawings of Federico del Carlo and David Mayernik
Text and photos by Brette A. Jackson
What is a great thing to do in Lucca on a beautiful, sunny summer day? Make surveys of several Renaissance palazzi in the historical city center. In June, David and Federico set out together and created measured drawings of two principle Renaissance edifices: the Palazzo Pretorio, which is the city’s former seat of the Podesta (the chief magistrate in a medieval Italian municipality), and the Santissimo Sacramento, a small chapel that is part of Lucca’s cathedral, San Martino.
Visual architectural surveying is an empirical method of drawing that offers the designer the opportunity to analyze a building’s proportion and structure by eye; this can be accomplished by either using one-point perspective or elevation. Working in tandem, David and Federico discussed the essential elements of each building (e.g. the height of the columns, the width of the arches, etc.) and then standing at a distance that allowed them a full view of both the palazzo and chapel, they each drew areas of each structure using their preferred method: for instance, Federico drew an elevation to use a more objective approach by using proportional relationships, while David used a more subjective approach of applying one-point perspective. There is really no better exercise in comprehending the general principles of perspective and architectural design than standing in front of a well-designed building, breaking down its parts, and then drawing it directly from sight. Think of it as drawing a live model; capturing all of their contours and distinct features, while also understanding the constant that the human body is symmetrical—thus, two eyes, arms, legs, feet, etc.
Lucca is a small city with a large personality; it is both easy and pleasant to apprehend its streets, buildings, and civic art. The summer offers long, sunshine-filled days that let you to copy and emulate architecture and art in a lovely, Tuscan Renaissance city with two teachers whose passion, talent, and love of Lucca promise a challenging, engaging, and artistic summer. Come and experience the art and culture of a viable city whose inhabitants harmoniously coexist with its past: The Tuscan Renaissance Academy would like to open the door to a portal that will teach you about the significance of the art and architecture of the Renaissance: its significance to the past, and its relevance to the present.
This is the first post of our ongoing activities at the Tuscan Renaissance Academy.
Over the summer of 2018 we visited some of Lucca's important Renaissance buildings to show how the period's drawing techniques, both perspectival and orthographic, can be used to document and understand these remarkable structures. We also posted on this site an idea for reconstructing the garden of the fifteenth-century Villa Guinigi (see photo above), the city's art museum. Our future blog posts will show Federico and David at work and explain our principles and pedagogy.
Check our our Summer 2019 course offering, and