Eleonora Pistis

Eleonora Pistis

17th- and 18th-Century European Architecture and Urbanism; Architectural Theory; Antiquarianism
Ph.D., University IUAV of Venice, 2012


Eleonora Pistis was trained as both an architect and architectural historian at the University IUAV of Venice, Italy, where she earned her PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban Planning. Before coming to Columbia she was, from 2011 to 2014, the Scott Opler Research Fellow in Architectural History at Worcester College, Oxford, and thereafter, in Spring 2015, Research Fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. From 2015 to 2016, she was visiting Assistant Professor in Art History at Grinnell College, IA, where she taught courses in early modern European architecture and architectural theory.

Over the years, she has received fellowships and awards from the Accademia of San Luca in Roma, the Francis Haskell Memorial Fund, the Paul Mellon Center in London, and the Kress foundation.

Her work spans the European architecture and urbanism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with a focus on Italy, Britain and France. Eleonora has worked extensively on the relationship between architecture and antiquarian studies within the European Republic of Letters, the spaces of learning institutions, the libraries of architects and their patrons, the production and circulation of architectural drawings, prints, and treatises, and the migration of architectural knowledge across Europe's fluid boundaries. As an architect, she is also interested in a number of features of early modern architectural practice, in particular building technology, design and construction processes, and urban planning.

Eleonora is currently working on two book manuscripts. While differing in their geographical and cultural perspectives, each work aims to enrich our understanding of European architecture and the migration of architectural knowledge in the early eighteenth century, a pivotal moment for the rise of the modern world. The first focuses on the British architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661- 1736) and his 30-year relationship with the University of Oxford. It analyses Hawksmoor's architecture and design process, while revealing the different strands of political and cultural influence that shaped them. Introducing new archival evidence, it explores the particular local dynamics of Oxford within wider British and European contexts, and simultaneously engages in a critical discussion of current theoretical discourses. The second book focuses on the Italian antiquarian Scipione Maffei (1675-1755), one of the most eminent members of the Republic of Letters of his time. Through analysis of his writings and his relationships with famous architects such as Filippo Juvarra, the Bibiena Brothers, and Lord Burlington, this book shows how the fragmentary remains of antiquity shaped and justified modern architectural praxis, and how, in turn, architectural debates influenced the interpretation of the past and the making of history.

Eleonora's current major research project investigates the rise of a global architectural history within Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Selected Publications

“Nicholas Hawksmoor: Creating the Image of a New Oxford,” Annali di Architettura 26 (2014/ printed 2016), 123-138

“ ‘Tironibus pro exemplo’: Henry Aldrich’s Elementa Architecturae and architectural education at Oxford,” in Traduire l’architecture: Texte et image, un passage verse la création?, ed. R. Carvais, J-S. Cluzel, and J. Hernu-Bélaud, Paris 2015, 145-159

“Storia e Architettura: ‘vari frammenti d’antichità’ nell’incontro fra Filippo Juvarra e Scipione Maffei,” in Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736), Architetto dei Savoia, Architetto in Europa, 2 vols., II, ed. E. Kieven and C. Ruggero, Roma 2014, 65-77

“Verona,” in Il Settecento. Storia dell’Architettura nel Veneto, ed. E. Kieven and S. Pasquali, Venezia 2012, 258-277

“La biblioteca di architettura secondo Scipione Maffei,” in I libri e l’ingegno. Studi sulla Biblioteca dell’Architetto (XV-XX secolo), ed. G. Curcio, M. Nobile and A. Scotti Tosini, Palermo 2010, 115-122

‘Chiswick House & Gardens,’ Casabella 797 (January 2011), 36-47

“ ‘Farò con la copia’. Una raccolta inedita di disegni d’architettura nella Bibliothèque Carré d’Art di Nîmes,” PegasusBerliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike 11 (2009), 93-116

“Catalogo dei disegni,” PegasusBerliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike 11 (2009), 117-207

“ ‘A più nobile simmetria per ornamento, e decoro della Città’. Progetti e cantiere della Dogana di San Fermo a Verona,” Annali di Architettura 21 (2009), 167-178