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Atlas and Hercules in the Garden

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Scientific Culture and Literary Imagination at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati

image of Nuncius

This essay explores the interplay in early modern Roman gardens between the iconography of instruments and fountains and scientific culture, especially astronomy. Examining the sundials that adorned the garden at the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati, it suggests a new reading of the garden and its iconographic programme, centred on the iconography of Atlas and Hercules holding the celestial sphere. It stresses the importance of scientific culture for both the conception and the subsequent reception of the programme. Several themes are developed: the relevance of wonder and curiosity in the process of understanding nature, the multiple links between nature and artefacts in the space of the garden, and the scientific interests of the patron, Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, and his main adviser, the letterato Giovanni Battista Agucchi.

Affiliations: 1: University of Montréal, Canada


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