Early Modern Rome 1341-1667, University of California Rome, 13-15 May 2010


University of California, Rome Study Center

Ritual Space and Rhetoric Chair: Rose Marie San Juan, University College, London

Lucinda Byatt, Edinburgh

Sant’Agata dei Goti on the Quirinal: An Early 16th-Century Fulcrum For Politics and Learning Under Cardinal Ridolfi

The “amenissimi horti di Sant’Agata” provided the setting for a learned circle of Greek scholars, Florentine exiles and sympathisers who met under the aegis of Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi during the 1530s and 1540s. Based on archival sources and contemporary accounts, my paper will look at the bonds of patronage and politics that linked the “cardinal’s men”, at the form of these meetings, and, lastly, at the role of the garden and the sculpture it contained in informing these occasions and the discussions that took place there. Works were carried out on Sant’Agata by the leading hydraulic engineer and architect, Tommaso Ghinucci. The house adjacent to the church accommodated Ridolfi’s resident astrologer, as well as Greek scholars working on his library. Sant’Agata was a key adjunct to the cardinal’s main palace, not only a refuge from the city but the deliberate creation of a propitious setting for learned and political debate.

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