Friday, March 13, 2009

Who Is Andrea Palladio?

If you've studied the history of Architect or simply have a fascination for historical architecture then the name Andrea Palladio should be no stranger to you. I wasn't familiar with Palladio until I visited Italy. It would be difficult to explore Italy, particularly Vicenza or Venezia without leaving with a profound appreciation and respect for Palladio because the region contains much of his work and he is a historical icon not just to Italy, but to the architectural world at large. Palladio (1508-80) was and is considered to be the most influential architects of our time.
Palladio was the first to develop a systematic organization of the rooms in a house. He was also the first to apply pedimented porticos from Roman temples to houses. This style of a formal porch is defined by a shallow triangular gable (Timpano) supported by a row of columns. Both these features are exemplified in the Villa Almerico "The Rotonda".
Most are familiar with the Palladian window which is his design. The ornate windows carrying his namesake really took off in America in the late 1700's when the Federal style of architecture began to evolve from more traditional colonial style. The design of Washington D.C.'s White House also took inspiration from "Palladianism".
Palladio was born November 29, 1508, in Padua, and trained as a stonemason. He moved to Vicenza in his early twenties. Originally named Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, he was named Palladio by the Italian poet and patron Gian giorgio Trissino, who oversaw Palladio's architectural studies. Trissino took him to Rome, where Palladio studied and measured Roman architectural ruins; he also studied the treatises of Vitruvius, one of the most important of the Roman architects.
In and near Vicenza he designed many residences (Villas) and public buildings (Palazzi). He also planned several churches in Venice, San Francesco della Vigna, San Giorgio Maggiore, and Il Redentore. One of his last work was the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, completed after his death by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi. Palladio's own use of classical motifs came through his direct, extensive study of Roman architecture. He freely recombined elements of Roman buildings as suggested by his own building sites and by contemporary needs. At the same time he shared the Renaissance concern for harmonious proportion, and his facades have a noteworthy simplicity, austerity and repose.

Palladio was the author of an important scientific treatise on architecture, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture), which was widely translated and influenced many later architects. Its precise rules and formulas were widely utilized, especially in England, and were basic to the Palladian style, adopted by Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren, and other English architects, which preceded and influenced the neoclassical architecture of the Georgian Style.

( from wikipedia)
The above image is of the Teatro Olimpico ("Olympic Theatre") in Vincenza, Italy, designed by Palladio as his last work. It is widely considered the first example of covered theatre of the Modern age.

San Francesco della Vigna

Inside the San Francesco Della Vigna

Il Redentore in Venezia, Italy.

Inside Il Redentore

Dan and I visited Venezia in 2001 and stayed at the beautiful(but noisy, heavy tourist traffic) Hotel Savoia & Jolanda which is located on the waterfront. Our room had a perfect view of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore designed by Palladio in 1565 however was not completed until 30 years after his death on August 19, 1580.
He was married to Allegradonna, daugther of Marcantonio, and had five children, Leonida, Marcantonio, Orazio, Silla and Zenobia.

Statue of Andrea Palladio at the Piazzetta Palladio in Vicenza.


Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Wow, what a dream vacation to Venezia...beautiful pics! Always admired palladian windows and never dreamed of who designed them...facinating post, as always! Just wanted to warn you not to expect toooo much of my Master.
:-) It is definitely not my dream bedroom...but I do love revealing a room with a little tease. I did the same thing when I posted my guest bedroom and upstairs family and the comments were soooo funny! I think the tease post is sometimes more fun than the reveal. :-) Susan

Pigtown-Design said...

Lova Palladio! My friend over at Man of Mode did some posts about him this summer.

Meade Design Group said...

I really enjoyed reading this entry. Great research and amazing content - Keep the good work!

Scribbler said...

Great review of some of the stuff I slept through in design school. Yours is definitely more entertaining.

I tried to put you on my blogroll, but it doesn't work -- sorry!


columnist said...

I'm a great fan, and recently posted about him. Such a strong influence on C18th neoclassical British architecture. And Venice! We went there in 2002, and I'm so keen to return.