Another way a building could convey meaning was through theemployment of architectural orders.161 Columns had been one of the majorcomponents of architecture for ancient builders and they were also subject tovery strict rules about their proportions, details and decoration. Early modernarchitects knew of the properties of the columns and their orders first andforemost through Vitruvius.
However, since Vitruvius’ descriptions of theorders were vague and difficult to understand and moreover there were noillustrations accompanying the text, throughout the Renaissance theoristscontinued to clarify the rules of their use. Serlio in Book Four of histreatise on architecture attempted to clarify and codify what Vitruvius had saidand furthermore illustrated them in order with all of the basic informationbeing also supplied on the drawings. Serlio based the column proportions onancient ideas about human proportions, for example the Doric column was thoughtto be based on the proportions of a man, the Ionic column was based on a womanand the Corinthian column was based on a maiden. Therefore the orders wereassociated with the characteristics of the human type they were believed torepresent. The Doric order was used most commonly for the ground floor of abuilding as it was considered to be the sturdiest. The Ionic and Corinthianorders were considered to be more refined and therefore carried more elevatedconnotations.
Other later architectural theorists such as Vignola continuedthis practice of systematization of the orders. Therefore, the selection of aparticular column order could speak to the status and character of the familyor institution housed within a building.Guarini maintains that fashions come in and out of style,even for the use of the orders. Therefore, an architect must pay attention tothe relevance of style in the selection and design of the orders. While Guariniaccepted a similar view of the Greek orders, he extended the system of ordersto include the Tuscan and Composite orders, and also added the Gothic andAtlantic orders. Moreover, Guarini included designs for each of these ordersthat were uniquely his.
Therefore, building on the ideas of P. Miliet Dechales,a French mathematician whom Guarini cites, Guarini bases his systematicapproach to the orders on ancient geometrical order and harmonic proportionswhenever it is possible.164 Guarini’s orders are much more complex and reasonedthan previous standards, and therefore they could have been seen by his patronsto be even more persuasive.
The uniqueness of Guarini’s columns would speak ofhis and his patron’s erudite learning, as well as serve to draw attention andadmiration to the buildings they adorned. This view of architecture may explainthe reason Carlo Emanuel II, the Duke of Savoy, hired Guarini to build SanLorenzo. Before Guarini left Paris for Turin he had already developed aninternational reputation for both his architectural accomplishments and hisscholarly publications due to Ste. Anne and Placita philosophica.
Moreover, hisdesign of Ste. Anne was known to be unique and elaborate. This may be thereason the royal family rejected Guarini’s design for the façade of San Lorenzoas it would have been more elaborate and thus drawn more attention andadmiration than the royal palace to which it was attached. It was for thebenefit of his royal patrons and the church that Guarini employs the use ofemblems and symbols in his designs. Through the use of symbolism and metaphorin Guarini’s buildings he could persuade the viewer of the patron’s prestigeand power by instilling in the viewer’s mind certain images such as through theuse of heraldic or dynastic imagery and his selection and design of the orders.Moreover, it could cause the viewer to act in socially desirable ways byinciting virtuous action165—by evoking admiration in the viewer towards thestate and by awing the viewer into compliance.
One example of Guarini’s complex use of rhetoricin his architecture is in reference to the ornament in the Temple of theShroud. In this chapel Guarini uses an abundance of geometric shapes such ascircles, triangles, and pentagons. John Beldon Scott points out that forGuarini these shapes are largely not symbols.172 Instead, Guarini maintainsgeometry “teaches how to deploy the numbers of the intellect by means of acertain kind of argumentation that permits the discovery of other truths.
“173For Guarini, geometry unifies the parts of a design depending on the naturallyoccurring relationships between them.174 Thus Guarini uses geometricaloperations for creative stimulation in the design process. Also, like