Palazzo Tè between Science and Imagination

David Malkiel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This study focuses on the observations of two eighteenth-century visitors to Mantua's Palazzo Tè, Rabbis Isaac Lampronti of Ferrara (1679-1756) and Hayyim Yoseph David Azulay of Jerusalem (1724-1806), especially their impressions of the echo in its Chamber of the Giants. The rabbis' response to Palazzo Tè closely resembles that of dozens other European travelers, whose writings about the echo chamber exhibit the same fascination with recent advances in scientific knowledge, and like them, Lampronti and Azulay labor to synthesize their experience with the traditions and beliefs that make up their worldview. The Palazzo Tè literature emblematizes the explosive increase in the diffusion of knowledge in early modern Europe, in the arts as well as the sciences, and the importance of travel and travel writing in that process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-461
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Early Modern History
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research for this study was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (#1262/13), for which I am profoundly grateful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Judaism
  • Travel
  • art history
  • early modern Italy
  • history of science
  • religion


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