Cities and Modern Architecture in Sicily in the Views of Saint-Non's Voyage: Attraction and Distortion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Some of the views in the fourth volume of the Voyage Pittoresque by the abbot of saint-Non, published in two parts (1785 and 1786) in paris, reproduce architectural structures and urban settings of Sicily in the modern era. Among the places chosen by the architects and painters who took part in the campaign carried out between 1777 and 1778, those relating to the architecture of the time were considerably fewer in number (five out of a total of one hundred and forty subjects). They regarded the city of Palermo and three major episcopal towns: Mazara, Syracuse and Catania. In light of the coeval pictorial taste for ruins of classical antiquity, this numerical disproportion reflected the purpose of the journey to Sicily, as set out in the title of the work. The images chosen on the occasion testified though to a certain ambiguity in pursuing the objectives set for this editorial enterprise and showed a momentary shift of interest toward civil and religious architecture in the modern period. Seventeenth and eighteenth-century architecture – concentrated mainly in public squares and places that were used for rhetorical purposes and constituted a symbol of magnificence for the local community – seems to have somehow drawn the attention of this group of artists so much so that these were captured in few yet interesting depictions and points of view. a comparison of what they drew with what survives today and, more in general, with what was actually built reveals substantial changes that were made over the three centuries to have passed since then. at the same time, however, these reproductions also betray a representation laden with efforts made by the artists to simplify, distort and censure the objects of their observation.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)664-687
Number of pages24
JournalArcHistoR
VolumeExtra 3/2018: T. Manfredi (a cura di), Voyage Pittoresque. I. Esplorazioni Esplorazioni nell’Italia del Sud sulle tracce dell
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this

Sutera, D. (2018). Cities and Modern Architecture in Sicily in the Views of Saint-Non's Voyage: Attraction and Distortion. ArcHistoR, Extra 3/2018: T. Manfredi (a cura di), Voyage Pittoresque. I. Esplorazioni Esplorazioni nell’Italia del Sud sulle tracce dell, 664-687.