The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andrea Palladio with a fabulous tour; Private Palaces, Villas and Gardens of Venice and the Veneto, October 9-16. It is a dream trip to Palladio’s most important villas. I can’t make the trip so this is the closest I will get to appreciating and enjoying his contribution to classical architecture.
- Villa Cornaro
Palladio (1508-1580) was a Venetian Architect considered the most influential individual in the history of western architecture. All of his buildings are located in what was the Venetian Reupblic. He summarized his teachings in The Four Books of Architecture which gained him wide recognition. The Palladian style, named after him, adhered to classical Roman and Greek principles. His architectural works have “been valued for centuries as the quintessence of High Renaissance calm and harmony” (Watkin, D., A History of Western Architecture). He designed many palaces, villas and churches, but Palladio’s reputation initially, and after his death, has been founded on his skill as a designer of villas. A number of his works are now protected as part of the World Heritage Site.
As of 2011, 936 sites are listed. Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 47. The selection criteria I found to be very interesting.
1. It must represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.
2. Exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design.
3. Bears a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
4. Is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
5. An outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture.
6. Is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions with ideas or with beliefs with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
Some other sites are:
Site #86 Memphis and its Necropolis including the Pyramids of Giza
Site #114 Persepolis, Iran
Site #174 Historic Center, Florence
Site #307 Statue of Liberty
Site #447 Uluru, Australia
Site #483 Chechen Itza, Yucatan Mexico
Site #540 Historic Center, St. Petersburg, Russia
This was one of Palladio’s earliest villas.
Allof the villas have frescoes in the interiors. I will post some of the interiors in subsequent blogs. The best book about the villas is Villas of the Veneto. It has wonderful full page color pictures of the exterior and interiors of the villas and the history of the construction of each.
Palladio’s architecture was not dependent on expensive materials. Many of his buildings are of brick covered with stucco. Living in the east, I would love to see the brick work covered with stucco. His success as an architect is based not only on the beauty of his work, but also for its harmony with the culture of his time. For instance, the main living quarters of the owner on the second level distinguished by use of a pedimented classical portico, centered and raised above the utilitarian ground level.
Palladio was born as Andrea di Pietro della Gondola in Padua. He became an assistant in the Pedemura Studio. A workshop for stone cutters and masons. His talents were first recognized in his early thirties by Count Gian Giorgio Trissino, an influential humanist and writer. He stimulated Andrea to appreciate the arts, sciences and Classical literature and gave him the opportunity to study Ancient architecture in Rome. It was Trissino who gave him the name Palladio, an illusion to the Greek goddess of wisdom. The word Palladio means Wise One.