Of Various Commensuración for Sculpture and Architecture

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Of Various Commensuración for Sculpture and Architecture (De varia comensuración para la escultura y arquitectura) by Juan de Arphe y Villafañe is a seminal work that addresses the theory and practice of sculpture and architecture from a technical and artistic perspective. Written in the context of the Spanish Renaissance, this treatise is a testament to the synthesis of knowledge that converged during that period, ranging from mathematics to aesthetics.
Juan de Arphe y Villafañe, who was both a sculptor and a goldsmith, offers in his work an integrated vision of the arts, placing particular emphasis on the importance of proportion and symmetry. He is concerned not only with technical aspects, such as measurements and calculations, but also with the theoretical foundations that should guide artistic creation. In this sense, the work can be seen as a practical manual for artists, architects, and sculptors, as well as a philosophical treatise on the nature of art and beauty.
The book is notable for its interdisciplinary approach. It combines artistic theory with practice and covers topics ranging from the ideal proportions of the human body to the principles of design in architecture. Additionally, it offers a wide range of examples and practical exercises that illustrate its concepts, making it an invaluable tool for both the student and the experienced practitioner.
The emphasis on “comensuración” or proportion is especially relevant as it reflects a broader Renaissance concern for harmonic relationships and geometric perfection, concepts inherited from classical antiquity. This approach also underscores the idea that there are universal rules and principles that can and should guide artistic creation, a perspective that would have a lasting impact on the theory of art and architecture.
It is interesting to note that the work also serves as a historical document that reflects the aesthetic norms and ideals of its time. Through his detailed exposition, Juan de Arphe y Villafañe provides a window into how artists and architects of the Renaissance thought about their craft, from the materials and techniques they used to the philosophical and cultural influences that guided them.
Of Various Commensuración for Sculpture and Architecture is a rich and complex work that offers a comprehensive vision of the theory and practice of Renaissance art. Its interdisciplinary approach, theoretical depth, and practical relevance make it essential reading for anyone interested in the history of art and architecture.

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