chapter  5
50 Pages

Pots, Pans, and the Illustration of Knowledge Dining with the Ancients in Renaissance Rome:

The images of kitchen spaces are just four out of a total of 27 illustrations in the Opera. The others feature pots and pans, tools and implements, machines, and finally food service at a papal conclave. Once again, I will pose the question: why illustrate these things? The answer, and the subject of this chapter, entails an exploration of contemporary book illustrations, including antiquarian studies of ancient customs and practices, as well as scientific and technical books that codifed and transmitted many different forms of information. These genres of illustrated books printed in early modern Italy, and all over Europe, provide conceptual and visual comparisons for Scappi’s pictures. In drawing parallels, I have grouped the images in the Opera according to the kinds of information they convey. The kitchens recall descriptions in architectural treatises but also break new ground. Serial images of cauldrons and other vessels draw on the antiquarian impulse to describe, catalog, and classify. Depictions of machines and devices such as turnspits or footwarmers parallel those in treatises on machines. The double-page portrayal of the papal conclave manifests an ethnographic interest in the contemporary ritual of the transfer of papal power.