To date Rudolf Wittkower's Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism of 1949 remains a fundamental evaluation of Renaissance architectural aesthetics. Although not unique in having achieved such paradigmatic status within its discipline, its simultaneous impact upon architectural production remains unprecedented. It is precisely the fact that this work captured the imagination of two traditionally distinct groups at a moment in history when exchanges between the two seemed least likely to occur that constitutes the starting point for this inquiry. Based upon an examination of Principles against the Renaissance literature it so categorically supplanted, against its art historical and broader intellectual context, as well as against contemporary architectural theory, the argument presented here proposes a deeper cultural continuity between the discourse of modernist architecture in the 1940s and 1950s and the readings of history that were conceived at the same time. In conclusion it is argued that beyond affording specific insight into the historicity of our constructions of the Renaissance, such a pattern of exchange between history writing and criticism/theory alerts us to the complex symbiosis that existed between these two reflective activities at the very heart of modernism itself.

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