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Kempers, Bram

Kempers, Bram


Bram Kempers, born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1953. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Professor in Social History of Art at the University of Amsterdam.

Theme Group Coordinator (1 February 2015 – 30 June 2015)

Biographies of Buildings: Transformations of the Vatican Palace, St. Peter’s and the Cortile Belvedere in the Age of Raphael

Research Question

In which ways can we produce traditional empirical data, ranging from drawings to notarial acts, to allow for digital modelling, and how can multidimensional models be used as a research tool in the fields of art history, history, archaeology, and the social sciences? These methodological issues will be tested in the context of the Vatican Palace and St. Peter’s, and some comparable settings, such as the major monuments in Urbino, Siena and Florence.

Project Description

The research focuses on a 3D reconstruction of a highly ambitious reconstruction and decoration project in which Raphael was involved from 1508 to his death in April 1520. Its nucleus is a, hitherto unknown, coherent plan for the top floor, i.e. above the Raphael Stanze, most of which has fallen victim to fires and (much) later rebuilding. It comprised four wings around a cortile with a huge dome, designed by Bramante, on top of the Borgia-tower, boasting the famous secret library. This reconstruction involves a revision of some ideas concerning the Stanze, and it extends to related projects in the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s and the Cortile Belvedere. The fourth dimension will be given its due by linking this important but short phase to construction and decoration projects from the fourth century onwards and the later history.

Selected Publications

1) `The Pope’s Two Bodies. Julius II, Raphael and Saint Luke’s Virgin of Santa Maria del Popolo’ in E. Thuno and G. Wolf eds., The Miraculous Image in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, Munich 2004, 189-213

2) “Centralized Churches and the Concept of the figura composta: Ideal and Practice from Brunelleschi to Borromini’, in Renaissance Studies in Honor of Joseph Connors, edited by Machtelt Israëls and Louis A. Waldman, Florence, Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 2012, vol. I, 339-347, 843-846.

3) ‘Epilogue: A hybrid history: the antique basilica with a modern dome’, in R. McKitterick, J. Osborne, C. M. Richardson and J. Story, eds. Old Saint Peter’s, Rome, British School at Rome Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 386-403.

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