Architectures of the Text:
Saturday, February 11, 2012
In April 2011, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries acquired a copy of the uncommon second edition of Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice 1545).¹ Since the appearance of the first edition in 1499, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has been heralded as the most beautiful book to appear in the Italian Renaissance. Printed in Venice by Aldus Manutius, “The Dream of Poliphily” was admired by Aldus’s contemporaries for its scholarship and value as an architectural treatise. Forty-six years after the publication of the first edition, Aldus’s heirs printed a second edition in 1545. This second edition suggests a renewed interest in the work, within Italy and beyond, for within a year a French translation appeared, followed by an English translation in 1592. Celebrated for its typographical design and illustrations, the Hypnerotomachia continues to attract the interest of scholars, typophiles, and collectors; it remains available in modern scholarly editions in both print and electronic format.
The University of Pennsylvania Libraries' acquisition came at the suggestion of John Dixon Hunt, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the University. Funds for its purchase came from the G. Holmes Perkins Books and Archives Fund, established by G. Holmes Perkins, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism and former dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now the School of Design). The Libraries and the School of Design administer this fund jointly.
On February 11, 2012, the Anne and Jerome Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the School of Design will collaborate on a one-day symposium to celebrate the acquisition of the Hypnerotomachia. The symposium will give faculty, students, scholars, and the public the opportunity to explore the beauty, meaning, and mysteries contained within the book's text and images and to share observations and findings with Penn colleagues and the scholarly community. Topics to be addressed include the publishing history of the book; gardens and landscape architecture in the book and in Renaissance Italy; classical inscriptions and ruins; the language of the text and its sources; and the continuing influence of the Hypnerotomachia on graphic design.
¹ Francesco Colonna, La Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo : cioè pugna d'amore in sogno, dou'egli mostra, che tutte le cose humane non sono altro che sogno, & doue narra molt'altre cose degne di cognitione (In Venetia: In Casa de' Figliuoli di Aldo, MDXXXXV ).
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
University of Pennsylvania Libraries
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Center for Italian Studies - Italian Section, University of Pennsylvania
Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
We are also grateful to the Department of Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College, for additional assistance with the conference.