Fragments of architectural set designs by artists of the theatre that combine the real and unreal to spectacular ends.
Giuseppe Galli Bibiena (1696-1757)
The columns here rest on the ground at the same level, despite reaching up into the ceiling at varying heights. This suggests that the bases of the columns should be viewed at eye level, supporting the idea that this might be a design for a stage set.
The vast space created here and the splendour of the setting generate an atmosphere of divine otherworldliness. As part of a production, powerful ruling families could have used this to suggest a heavenly endorsement of their position and actions.
Serafino Brizzi (1684-1737)
The door in the centre may have been a working entrance onto the stage. The side of the building on the right and the arch to the left would have been a solid part of the set covered in painted canvas. Everything you can see through the arch would have been painted onto a backdrop. The lines at the bottom of this drawing may describe how the solid parts should relate to each other when assembling this set.
Italian School, Bologna (18th century)
A coulisse was part of the set, used to conceal the entrances and exits of performers. The inscription “Troffi” or “trophy” refers to the shields, helmets and trumpets that served as reminders of victorious battles. The trophies and the carriage may have been carved or moulded while other parts would have been painted to look three-dimensional. The drapery and banners would have been of real fabric.