Great Models: Digressions On The Architectural Model

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Architectural models offer a record of architecture older than the profession itself; a record which expresses all the varying spirit and meanings which both architects and their public give to buildings. It is an enchanting journey through entombments and religious devotions, through records left in fresco and mosaic, through the hands of workmen, architects and clients, and the eyes of the perpetually fascinated public.

The earliest existing models were funerary objects placed in the tomb of the architect or donor of the edifice to surround him with the familiar, and as attributes of his work or generosity; such are the tiny Roman temple from Vulci (cover), and the Egyptian house replete with miniature leafy garden. Although the Romans occasionally accorded the architect such recognitions, the association of the model with the donor (the early client was frequently a wealthy patron building a church or temple, thus a “donor”) rather than the architect is prevalent until the Renaissance.