New Book | Lazzari’s Discrizione della Villa Pliniana

Posted in books by Editor on May 5, 2023

Francesco Ignazio Lazzari’s Discrizione della Villa Pliniana is the 2023 winner of the Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award, from the Society of Architectural Historians. Members of the award committee—Kathleen John-Adler, Sonja Dümpelmann, and Tracy Ehrlich—note in their citation: “given that Lazzari lived until the year 1717, we are reminded that his dedication to the Plinian tradition was not simply an outgrowth of a narrow Renaissance antiquarianism, it reflected a broader pan-European concern for the classical language of architecture that flourished in the eighteenth century.”

Distributed by Harvard UP:

Anatole Tchikine, Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey, and Taylor Ellis Johnson, Francesco Ignazio Lazzari’s ‘Discrizione della Villa Pliniana’: Visions of Antiquity in the Landscape of Umbria (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2021), 241 pages, ISBN: 978-0884024873, £35 / €37 / $40.

A cultivated patrician, a prolific playwright, and a passionate student of local antiquity, Francesco Ignazio Lazzari (1634–1717) was a mainstay of the artistic and intellectual life of Città di Castello, an Umbrian city that maintained a remarkable degree of cultural autonomy during the early modern period. He was also the first author to identify the correct location of the lost villa ‘in Tuscis’ owned by the Roman writer and statesman Pliny the Younger and known through his celebrated description. Lazzari’s reconstruction of this ancient estate, in the form of a large-scale drawing and a textual commentary, adds a unique document to the history of Italian gardens while offering a fascinating perspective on the role of landscape in shaping his native region’s identity. Published with an English translation for the first time since its creation, this manuscript is framed by the scholarly contributions of Anatole Tchikine and Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey. At the core of their discussion is the interplay of two distinct ideas of antiquity—one embedded in the regional landscape and garden culture of Umbria and the other conveyed by the international tradition of Plinian architectural reconstructions-that provide the essential context for understanding Lazzari’s work.

Series | Ex Horto: Dumbarton Oaks Texts in Garden and Landscape Studies

Anatole Tchikine is Curator of Rare Books at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey is Professor in the Department of Art at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.



Prologue: Fitting Together the Pieces of the Lazzari Puzzle — Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey

1  Repatriating Pliny: Lazzari and His Reconstruction — Anatole Tchikine
2  ‘So That the Memory of This Villa…’: Lazzari’s Two Antiquities — Anatole Tchikine
3  ‘Tuscos Meos’: Visions of Pliny’s Villas by Lazzari, His Predecessors, and His Contemporaries — Pierre de la Ruffiniere du Prey
Epilogue: Local Memory and National Myth — Anatole Tchikine

Description of Pliny’s Villa — Francesco Ignazio Lazzari, translated with notes from Italian and Latin by Anatole Tchikine and Taylor Ellis Johnson
Discrizione della Villa Pliniana — Francesco Ignazio Lazzari, transcription by Anatole Tchikine and Taylor Ellis Johnson

1  Pliny the Younger, Letter to Apollinaris — translated from Latin by Taylor Ellis Johnson
2  Nine Latin Inscriptions Found in the Area of Città di Castello (Appendix to the Città di Castello Manuscript) — transcription by Anatole Tchikine
3  Legend to Lazzari’s Drawing — transcription by Anatole Tchikine
4  Chronology of Lazzari’s Writings — Anatole Tchikine


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