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Thursday, 3 May 2007


Ralph J. Carreño
Architectural Critic & Historian

By Edward Quattrocchi
The Caxton Society, Chicago

Ralph J. Carreño was a Renaissance man. A retired [business] executive, he pioneered overseas sales of American consumer goods on five continents. But his most passionate interests were books, especially about Italian Renaissance architecture.

He lectured and wrote on a wide range of topics and, at the time of his death, he was working on a book of on Georgian architecture. [To be published by Writers Clearinghouse Press, Philadelphia].

He was a a member of the Menken Society, Classical America, and the Society of Architectural Historians. He played the violin and was an aficionado of classic music.

He was like a comet that entered The Caxton Club orbit in 1995 and exited about four years later. But in that short span of time he made his presence known. He and his wife, Susan, were regular attendees at Caxton Club meetings. Ralph took [it] upon himself the task of videotaping the Friday luncheon presentations for The Caxton Club archives.

His knowledge of Italian architecture was most gracefully displayed in his presentation to the Caxton Club Friday luncheon meeting about the architectural genius of Michelangelo in his his design of the Medici Chapel in Florence. Another presentation on Mencken and the American Language revealed another one of his eclectic interests.

Even though his origins were Spanish, and his allegiance to America, he had a special quality that...Italians call sprezzatura, defined in English as nonchalance in performing excellent feats without seeming effort, an art that conceals art. We thank him and Susan for their brief but brilliant presence in our orbit.

Ralph J. Carreño, to whom this ezine is dedicated, died 9 November 2000 in Boston, Massachusetts.