Giovanni Battista Montano as Architectural Draughtsman: Recording the Past and Designing the Future
Knight, Janina M.
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Giovanni Battista Montano (1534-1621), who was born in Milan and trained as a woodcarver, relocated permanently to Rome in the early 1570s where his interest in sculpting was replaced by intense study of the city’s antique monuments and ruins. Although Montano carried out several sculptural and architectural projects during his time in Rome, it is his surviving corpus of drawings that testifies to his passion of exploring ancient architecture through the medium of drawing. While Montano was not famous during his lifetime, a large body of his intriguing designs became celebrated and widely circulated after his death thanks to the 1624 publication of Montano’s designs by his loyal pupil, Giovanni Battista Soria. Montano’s lifelong work differs from virtually all of his predecessors and contemporaries in its “fantastical” and ornamental nature. This thesis explores Montano’s artistic training as it relates to his later interest in imaginatively reconstructing antique buildings, along with his disregard for archaeological or historical accuracy. The subject matter upon which Montano focused is discussed, along with his objective in creating a large corpus of half-historical, half-invented drawings. His drawing techniques are explored with specific reference to the largest group of extant Montano drawings, today housed in Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, England, and also in reference to three original Montano drawings in the Centre Canadien d’Architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. Also explored is the legacy and impact of Montano’s drawings and the later publications of his designs on the works of Roman Baroque architects, specifically Borromini and Bernini. This thesis ultimately attempts to understand the impact of the intellectual and artistic environment surrounding Montano in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Rome, his drawing techniques, his choice of subject matter, and the reception that his unique works received from contemporary artists and intellectuals, along with those of the following generation.