Project to Update the Brauer-Wittkower Corpus of Bernini's Architectural Drawings
Prof. Dr. Tod Marder
When the Bibliotheca Hertziana reopened after World War II, it was said that the corpus of drawings by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1931) was one of the most important publications to emerge from the then-thirty-year-old scholarly institute. Of the two authors, Heinrich Brauer had by 1928 completed a doctorate on the huge collection of Bernini drawings in the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig, and Wittkower (then assistant to the first director of the institute, Ernst Steinmann) had moved from assisting in the compilation of a monumental Michelangelo bibliography to examining the graphic evidence for Bernini's art and architecture. The collaboration of Brauer and Wittkower resulted in a crucial publication that is still frequently cited but much out of date. Thus, when the corpus was reprinted in 1969, both authors had already foreseen the need for its revision in light of new research, and they forecast the work in two parts, embracing the figural drawings and the architectural studies. The passing of time has only made these needs more pressing. In addition to addressing the status of advancing studies, one must now carefully reconsider the substance of the text, whose subtle analysis is frequently overlooked. Moreover, the book has assumed the status of a historiographic landmark and therefore deserves to be understood in the context of its time, including the developing methods for art historical research, the study of drawings, and the professional ambitions of its authors in difficult political and cultural circumstances. Beginning with the architectural material, this project addresses these matters with a fully documented introduction to the book and its authors, a modern English translation, and extensive revisions to the catalogue to bring it up-to-date with respect to current scholarship.