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>  Philips van Winghe

Philips van Winghe

van winghe portrait.jpeg

Philips van Winghe (1560-1592), humanist, antiquary and scholar of Early Christianity, came from a noble family of Louvain (Belgium) of the humanistic tradition. As customary for Northern humanists such as van Winghe and his family, he engaged in a “Grand Tour” in Italy.  Van Winghe stayed in Rome from 1589 to 1592, where he studied the remains of early Christian Rome in churches and catacombs and visited important archeological and art collections of the city, such as Della Valle, Cesi, and Farnese. He took many notes on his visits, made drawings of mosaics, frescoes and sarcophagi, as well as early Christian inscriptions. The greatest part of his notes and sketches on these subjects appears to have been recorded in two notebooks, one of which, the so-called Notebook. A goal of his work was publication on the subject of early Christianity. After his premature death in 1592, this project was continued by his brother Jérôme in collaboration with Peiresc, but was never concluded. Van Winghe was known in his time, and still is acknowledged today, as one of the first to document Roman catacombs. His work is considered precious, rare, and faithful records of monuments often difficult to reach. His notes and drawings were extensively used and shared by antiquaries and humanists of his and the next generation.  While humanist-antiquaries with archeological interests such as van Winghe were the most likely to record information on the non-Western world, such records remain rare. As for our present knowledge, in the case of van Winghe these records are limited to the mentioned above Azuchi Castle screens sketches, presumably located at the Vatican at that time, and the sketch of the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, which comes from a codex likewise kept at the Vatican. At any rate, no authentic primary records by van Winghe related to the non-Western worlds have been discovered yet (the images we have are all copies from his work). This said, Philips’ interest in Japan does appear in his Notebook (ms 17872-73, fol. 165v). Therein he mentions the seminaries and colleges that Pope Gregory XIII had

The only known visual records of the Azuchi Castle screens are two illustrations first published in 1624 by the Italian antiquary Lorenzo Pignoria (1571-1631) in his addendum “Second Part of the Images of Indian Gods” to Vincent Cartari’s “Images of the Gods of the Ancients”, a widely used reference text for the iconography of Greek and Roman gods. The two illustrations are copies of now-lost sketches drawn from the original Azuchi paintings by Philips van Winghe (1560-1592). These sketches are presumed to have been produced during van Winghe’s stay in Rome between 1589 and 1592. They were adapted into woodcut engravings for this publication by the draughtsman and engraver Filippo Ferroverde (active 1st quarter of 17th cent.). The prints were republished again in the 1626 and 1647 reeditions of the same volume.

Fate of the van Winghe’s original drawings

Shortly after accessing to the Vatican palace in order to reproduce maps for Orterius, Philip van Winghe died in 1592. After van Winghe’s death, his belongings, including several manuscripts within which the sketches were included, were gathered and shipped by his close friend Jean L’Heureux (alias Macarius, 1540-1614) to van Winghe’s brother and canon of the cathedral in Tournai, Jerome (also called Hieronymus) van Winghe. Our extensive research traced the transfer of ven Winghe's drawings and Notebooks, which led us to much larger-scale researches of the network of the intellectual circles in Rome, Padua, Tournai, and Aix-en-Provence....

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