Alberti, Leone Battista, Architecture, 1755

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[Figure 2]
Our Anceſtors have left us many and various Arts tending to the Pleaſure and
Conveniency of Life, acquired with the greateſt Induſtry and Diligence:
Which Arts, though they all pretend, with a Kind of Emulation, to have in
View the great End of being ſerviceable to Mankind; yet we know that each
of them in particular has ſomething in it that ſeems to promiſe a diſtinct and
ſeparate Fruit: Some Arts we follow for Neceſſity, ſome we approve for their
Uſefulneſs, and ſome we eſteem becauſe they lead us to the Knowledge of Things that are de-
What theſe Arts are, it is not neceſſary for me to enumerate; for they are obvious.
But if you take a View of the whole Circle of Arts, you ſhall hardly find one but what, deſpiſ-
ing all others, regards and ſeeks only its own particular Ends: Or if you do meet with any of
ſuch a Nature that you can in no wiſe do without it, and which yet brings along with it Pro-
ſit at the ſame Time, conjoined with Pleaſure and Honour, you will, I believe, be convinced,
that Architecture is not to be excluded from that Number.
For it is certain, if you examine
the Matter carefully, it is inexpreſſibly delightful, and of the greateſt Convenience to Mankind
in all Reſpects, both publick and private; and in Dignity not inferior to the moſt excellent.
before I proceed further, it will not be improper to explain what he is that I allow to be an
Architect: For it is not a Carpenter or a Joiner that I thus rank with the greateſt Maſters in
other Sciences; the manual Operator being no more than an Inſtrument to the Architect.
Him I call an Architect, who, by ſure and wonderful Art and Method, is able, both with
Thought and Invention, to deviſe, and, with Execution, to compleat all thoſe Works, which,
by means of the Movement of great Weights, and the Conjunction and Amaſſment of Bodies,
can, with the greateſt Beauty, be adapted to the Uſes of Mankind: And to be able to do this,
he muſt have a thorough Inſight into the nobleſt and moſt curious Sciences.
Such muſt be the
But to return.
SOME have been of Opinion, that either Water or Fire were the principal Occaſions of bring-
ing Men together into Societies; but to us, who conſider the Uſefulneſs and Neceſſity of Co-
verings and Walls, it ſeems evident, that they were the chief Cauſes of aſſembling Men toge-
But the only Obligation we have to the Architect is not for his providing us with ſafe
and pleaſant Places, where we may ſhelter ourſelves from the Heat of the Sun, from Cold and
Tempeſt, (though this is no ſmall Benefit); but for having beſides contrived many other
Things, both of a private and publick Nature of the higheſt Uſe and Convenience to the Life
of Man.
How many noble Families, reduced by the Calamity of the Times, had been utterly
loſt, both in our own native City, and in others, had not their paternal Habitations preſerved
and cheriſhed them, as it were, in the Boſom of their Forefathers. Dædalus in his Time was
greatly eſteemed for having made the Selinuntians a Vault, which gathered ſo warm and kindly
a Vapour, as provoked a plentiful Sweat, and thereby cured their Diſtempers with great Eaſe
and Pleaſure.
Why need I mention others who have contrived many Things of the like Sort
conducive to Health; as Places for Exerciſe, for Swimming, Baths and the like?
Or why
ſhould I inſtance in Vehicles, Mills, Time-meaſures, and other ſuch minute Things, which
nevertheleſs are of great Uſe in Life?
Why ſhould I inſiſt upon the great Plenty of Waters
brought from the moſt remote and hidden Places, and employed to ſo many different and uſe-
ful Purpoſes?
Upon Trophies, Tabernacles, ſacred Edifices, Churches and the like, adapted

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