Tessa Morrison
The School of Architecture and Built Environment
The University of Newcastle, Callaghan

N2008-MorrisonVillalpando's Floor Plan of Solomon's Temple. From Villalpando and Prado, Ezechielem Explanationes    

The second volume of Ezechielem Explanationes by Juan Battista Villalpando, published in 1604, contains a re-creation of the Temple of Solomon illustrated by a portfolio of exceptionally detailed architectural drawings. His designs were built on the principles of Platonic musical harmonies and his interpretation of ancient measurements. Villalpando envisaged the temple as a building encapsulating the entire formal grammar of classical architecture. Villalpando's architecture, harmonic proportions and measurements appear to be a flawless system and his design exerted an extraordinary influence on the architects and historians of architecture in Europe for at least the next two centuries. His reconstruction inspired not only other commentaries and other reconstructions of Solomon's Temple, but it also stimulated discussion on the very origins of architecture. However, his reconstruction was not without its critics. In the seventeenth and eighteen centuries critics included Louis Cappel, Samuel Lee, Louis Compiègne de Veil, Nicolaus Goldmann and others who produced alternative reconstructions of Solomon's Temple. In the twentieth century criticism from what appears to be an unusual source was uncovered. In Sir Isaac Newton's unpublished manuscripts he claimed that although Villalpando had created the best of the reconstructions of the Temple of Solomon, the reconstruction had many problems. This paper examines Villalpando's reconstruction of the Temple in the light of Newton's unpublished commentary.

About the author
Tessa Morrison is an Australian Research Council post-doctoral fellow in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her academic background is in art history, mathematics and philosophy. Her current research project focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sacred architecture, particularly that of Juan Battista Villalpando and Isaac Newton's reconstructions of the Temple of Solomon. She has also published extensively on geometric, spatial symbolism and has an interest in examining and reconstructing the plans and structures of architecture in medieval poetry through poems such as the eighth-century Gaelic poem Saltair na Rann and the fourteenth-century Pearl. At the present she is translating Book V of Villalpando's De Postrema Ezechielis Prophetae Visione and Newton's work on the Temple of Solomon from Latin into English.

The correct citation for this paper is:
Tessa Morrison, "Villalpando's Sacred Architecture in the Light of Isaac Newton's Commentary", pp. 79-91in Nexus VII: Architecture and Mathematics, ed. Kim Williams, Turin: Kim Williams Books, 2008.