16th c. Italian Architecture in England - The First Treatise on Painting Printed in England

Lomazzo, Giovanni Paolo (1538-1600); Haydock(e), Richard (1570- ca. 1642), translator.

A tracte containing the artes of curious paintinge caruinge & buildinge written first in Italian by Io: Paul Lomatius painter of Milan and Englished by R.H student in physik

Oxford: by Ioseph Barnes for R[ichard] H[aydock], 1598


π6, *6, A-K6, Aa-Rr6, Ss8


Bound in contemporary English calfskin, boards gouged, extremities worn, defects to head and foot of spine. An unusually nice copy of a book almost always found in deplorable condition. The faults of this copy are largely cosmetic: light damp-staining to opening and final signatures, occ. small blemishes, a few lvs. with short worm trail, clean tear on final leaf (no loss.) The only true defect is some paper loss to the margin of leaf E6, with slight loss to the engraved image. Provenance: William Welk (17th c. signature), William Constable (1721-1791), collector and Grand Tourist. Kansas City Public Library (stamp), deaccessioned 2000.

The book is illustrated by the translator with an engraved title page and 13 full-page engravings in the text, illustrating the proportions of humans and horses; architectural elements, and a perspective diagram. The elaborate engraved title features portraits of Lomazzo and the translator, the arms of Oxford University and New College, and a number of allegorical-mythological figures relating to the arts: Juno Lucina (goddess of light), Athena with Arachne’s web (embroidery and decorative arts), Daedalus (the architect), Prometheus (the sculptor), etc. within a scrolling mannerist framework.

FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, in the translation of the Oxford physician Richard Haydocke, of the first five books of Lomazzo’s “Trattato dell'arte de la pittura, scultura e architettura” (1584). Haydocke's translation stands as a milestone in the history of art and intellectual culture in England. It is the first treatise on painting published in English, and several of the illustrations (by the translator) are based on Dürer's drawings of human proportions and at the same time reflect Lomazzo’s Italian mannerism. “The translation adds details of English artists such as Hilliard not mentioned in the original.” (Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists) Haydocke, in addition to being a physician, designed engravings and brass works, many of which are allegorical in nature. (For reproductions and descriptions of a number of these see Höltgen.)

“The Milanese painter and writer Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo went blind at the age of 33 and thereafter devoted himself to writing, publishing two treatises on art: “Trattato dell'arte de la pittura, scoltura, et architettura” (1584) and “Idea del tempio della pittura” (1590). The “Trattato” is the largest and most comprehensive treatise on art published in the 16th century and has been described as ‘the Bible of Mannerism’. It is divided into seven books, whose themes are Proportion, Motion, Colour, Light, Perspective, Practice, and History. Throughout the book runs the assumption that the arts can be taught by detailed precepts. 

“The importance of Lomazzo as a standard author for painters equaled that of Palladio for architects. Inigo Jones worked with annotated copies of both but Lomazzo was little known in England before Haydocke.”(Höltgen) While Haydocke did not translate the last two books of Lomazzo’s work, he did add a brief critique of Lomazzo’s third book (“Of Colors”) and added a translation of a chapter on fresco painting by Vasari. Haydocke relied on several benefactors to produce his work, and designed and engraved the plates himself to save on costs, because “pictures cut in copper, beare an higher rate of charge, then in probabilitie a professed scholar can undertake.”

Haydocke dedicated his book to his friend and benefactor Thomas Bodley. In the dedication, Haydocke announces Bodley’s major project, namely the Bodleian Library, which finally opened its doors in 1602. In fact, "The Tracte was in all respects an Oxford product. It was printed for Haydocke by the university printer, Joseph Barnes, and was one of the earliest books to be presented [by Haydocke himself] to the Bodleian" (Harris).

Writing to Thomas James (the Bodleian’s first Keeper) in 1601, Bodley expressed interest in obtaining a copy of the Italian original to be joined with the English. And in fact, in that same year, Haydocke provided him with the 1584 Italian edition, as well as several other books on art and design, including the first illustrated edition of Vasari’s “Lives of the Artists”(1568). 

“The thirteen plates illustrate the rules of proportion and perspective. Lomazzo had not provided pictures for his work but had based his discussion of proportion on Dürer (who had in turn been influenced by Vitruvius, Alberti, and Leonardo). Haydocke improved the practical and didactic value of his book by copying three, possibly four, plates from Dürer’s ‘De symmetria partium humanorum corporum’ (without acknowledging the fact.)…

“Of considerable interest are Haydocke’s figures ‘Of ten Faces’ in Table A, that is, bodies ten times the height of the face, a strong and slender man ‘patterned after the body of Mars’, and a ‘dainty and delicate’ woman of ‘the most pleasing proportions.’ They are full of expression and strength in the Mannerist style but they also prove the engraver’s anatomical knowledge. There was nothing like this in Dürer. The nearest models would have been anatomical plates encountered by Hydocke in his medical training, like those from the Geminus edition of Vesalius (London: 1597)…

After the engravings showing the proportions of horses, there comes ‘a series of plates illustrating Vitruvian harmony of proportion in humans and the five orders of architecture (Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite.) These plates and a final one on perspective are probably based on an eclectic use of several Italian models of which Serlio is the most conspicuous… Haydocke’s fascination with the symbolism of the orders and the columns can be seen in the frequent use of pillars in his allegorical works. The Corinthian column he values especially, as it was dedicated to the muses and ‘adorned above the rest with limes and ornaments of beauty and sweetnesse’.”(Höltgen)

In the course of the chapter on color, when discussing women’s makeup, Haydocke describes harmful cosmetics such as sublimate, camphor, and rock alum.

Further reading: Schlosser, La Letteratura Artistica: Contributi alla Bibliografia delle Fonti della Storia dell’Arte, Florence 1937, II, p. 395; Höltgen, Karl Josef. “Richard Haydocke: Translator, Engraver, Physician.” The Library, 5th ser., vol. 33, no. 1 (1978): 15–32; Gent, Lucy. “Haydocke’s Copy of Lomazzo’s Trattato.” The Library, 6th ser., vol. 1, no. 1 (1979): 78–81; Gent, Lucy. Picture and Poetry, 1560–1620: Relations between Literature and the Visual Arts in the English Renaissance. Leamington Spa: J. Hall, 1981.

ESTC S 111822; Luborsky & Ingram. Engl. illustrated books, 1536-1603, 16698; Madan, I, p. 46; STC (2nd ed.), 16698; Vagnetti, EIIb34; On the Italian editions: Adams, L-1419 (1584); Fowler, 156 (the Latin ed. of 1585; mentioning the English edition); Kat. Berlin, 4612 (1584).