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SOME QUESTIONS ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE OF VITRUVIUS, BRAMANTE, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND PALLADIO AND ARMENIAN ARCHITECTURE

 

ASHOT GRIGORIAN

 

            That medieval Armenian architecture (especially religious) has had a cer­tain influence on European architecture (Roman, Renaissance, Gothic) is al­ready accepted by many scholars such as Auguste Choisy, Józef Strzygowski, Adriano Alpago Novello, Paolo Cuneo, etc.

                However, it is also true that this issue is not thoroughly studied yet – in particular, the relationship between Armenian and Etruscan art, as well as the Armenian hypothesis of Leonardo da Vinci and other phenomena.

                This issue requires, of course, a comprehensive and deep historical investi­gation of not only the layouts and spatial compositions of particular monuments, but also Armenian-Italian relations in general. In particular, it needs a parallel study of King Gagik’s palace (X century) built by the talented medieval Arme­nian architect Manuel as well as the layouts and spatial compositions of the Villa Rotonda (XVI century) created by the famous architect of the Italian Re­naissance Andrea Palladio. Both structures consist of a square layout with a domed hall in the center. Even the proportional correlations are quite similar and close to each other in spite of the obvious difference of six centuries between their construction periods. That is why the question of either an accidental or a mutual recognition arises that needs to be studied. However, there is no doubt that the masters of the Italian Renaissance were aware of medieval Armenian architecture due to friendly Armenian-Italian relations current in the era.

                On the other hand, neither Palladio in his study titled The Four Books of Architecture, nor Marcus Vitruvius (to whom Palladio always refers) in his Ten Books of Architecture directly touch upon Armenia (it should be mentioned that the latter theorist architect of the first century B.C. mentions Asia, the Chaldean country, Chaldean science, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus Mountains, India, and Greece), but it is beyond doubt that they mush have been well aware of Arme­nian culture as were Leonardo da Vinci, then Auguste Choisy and other re­searchers.

It is a certain fact that Leonardo da Vinci was familiar with the compo­sitional features of Armenian bagaran-type churches, as was Brunelleschi (Chapelle Pazzi, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Santa Croce, etc.) with dome and half-dome compositions as well as cruciform and octagonal Armenian churches. Palladio (Tempietto della villa Barbaro a Maser, Villa Foscarri, Villa Rotonda, etc.) must have known about Armenian cruciform compositions, and, as men­tioned earlier, the composition of Gagik Artsruni’s palace built on Aghtamar Island.

                Considering the above, one may conclude that the question of Armenian-Italian architectural relations in view of the works of Vitruvius, Palladio, Leo­nardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and others, needs comprehensive and fundamental investigations.

 

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