Rome's Foundation and the Ark of the Hill

"In this thesis, I argue that in the cinquecento after its completion, Donato Bramante’s Tempietto in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio on the Janiculum in Rome, was received as evidence of Christian primacy in Rome. Hailed as the beginning of High Renaissance architecture, scholars have focused primarily on the Tempietto as an example of the renascence of antiquity. As Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio famously put it in his Four Books on Architecture it “made known that good and beautiful architecture which had been hidden from the time of the ancients.” Indeed, by and large, scholarship has relied on the distinction Palladio assigned the Tempietto as evidence that Bramante was using an ancient model. However, I suggest that Palladio’s claim itself was part of a dynamic world view representative of the way the Renaissance Romans perceived the Christian Foundation in Rome. Using the ideas propagated by Rome’s leading cast of thinkers, architects, and humanists, the Tempietto was seen as a validation of ancient Christian primacy in the city, with the pagan past reimagined as a prefiguration for the coming of the Church. The distant past was made present in a way that interpreted Rome’s legacy- from the narratives embedded in the landscape as memory, to the material traces left behind as ruins- as foreseeing Peter and the salvation of the Christian Church. For the Renaissance Romans, the Tempietto was a site where the past, as they understood it in relation to their present, was made real."

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