Picturing the City: Alberti on Urbanism and Power

  • 17:15

  • Minto House, Elliot Room
    20-22 Chambers Street
    EH1 1JZ

Join us for the Architectural History & Theory Seminar Series for 2023/24.

This event is taking place both in person and online. Please confirm how you wish to attend when reserving your ticket. Instructions will be sent on how to find the venue and how to join online via email.

Speaker bio:

Caspar Pearson is Reader in Art History and Director Studies at the Warburg Institute. His work focuses on the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as historiography and the afterlives of the Renaissance in later periods. He also writes about some aspects of contemporary architecture and visual culture.


This paper examines the connections between two texts produced by the writer and architect Leon Battista Alberti in the mid-1430s: his treatise on painting, De pictura, and his treatise on the family, Della famiglia. The paper explores how the two works overlapped and how Alberti was able to use a form of pictorial thinking to write about the city of Florence and its major buildings. In so doing, the paper considers Alberti’s fundamentally ambiguous approach to those structures, which he saw as instantiating both the power of architecture to forge meaning and its potential to serve as an instrument of tyrannical power. 

Image: Duomo, Florence, 13th-15th century (Caspar Pearson).

Book Zoom online at Eventbrite.  
Venue: Elliot Room (2.403), Minto House, 20 Chambers Street.