chapter  2
15 Pages

Drawing as a performative act

33Carlo Marchionni at the Villa Albani, Rome
WithTracy Ehrlich

This chapter seeks to unravel the striking narrative component of Carlo Marchionni’s architectural visions, for his elegant gesticulating figures have much to say. In the mid-1750s the Roman architect Marchionni produced a small group of highly finished drawings for the villa of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, an estate situated just outside Rome’s Aurelian walls along the ancient Via Salaria. Marchionni’s eloquent bodies, and, equally important, the drawings themselves, are fundamentally performative, not simply enacting social relations but generating social space itself. By inserting himself into the image Marchionni invokes his own artistic production and suggests the performative role of drawing. The interaction between moving, gesturing people, classical artifacts, art and architecture in Marchionni’s Villa Albani drawings suggests an active construction of experience rather than a transparent reflection of the world. Connoisseurship rested on conversational ability and learning, and, like the practice of collecting, was considered a sign of civility.