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"Palladio" redirects here. For other uses, see Palladio (disambiguation).
Andrea Palladio
Portrait of Palladio from 1576
Born (1508-11-30)30 November 1508
Padova, Republic of Venice
Died 19 August 1580(1580-08-19) (aged 71)
Maser, near Treviso
Nationality Italian[1]
Buildings Villa Barbaro
Villa Capra "La Rotonda"
Basilica Palladiana
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
Il Redentore
Teatro Olimpico
Projects I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture)

Andrea Palladio (30 November 1508 – 19 August 1580) was an Italian[1] architect active in the Republic of Venice. Palladio, influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily by Vitruvius, is widely considered the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture. All of his buildings are located in what was the Venetian Republic, but his teachings, summarized in the architectural treatise, The Four Books of Architecture, gained him wide recognition.[2] The city of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Palladio was born on November 30, 1508 in Padua and was given the name, Andrea Di Pietro della Gondola.[3] His father, Pietro, called "Della Gondola", was a miller. From early on, Andrea Palladio was introduced into the work of building. In Padua he gained his first experiences as a stonecutter in the sculpture workshop of Bartolomeo Cavazza da Sossano, who is said to have imposed particularly hard working conditions. At the age of sixteen he moved to Vicenza where he would reside for most of his life. Here he became an assistant in the Pedemuro studio, a leading workshop of stonecutters and masons. He joined a guild of stonemasons and bricklayers. He was employed as a stonemason to make monuments and decorative sculptures. These sculptures reflected the Mannerist style of the architect Michele Sanmicheli.

Perhaps the key moment that sparked Palladio's career was being employed by the Humanist poet and scholar, Gian Giorgio Trissino, from 1538 to 1539. While Trissino was reconstructing the Villa Cricoli, he took interest in Palladio's work. Trissino was heavily influenced by the studies of Vitruvius, who later influenced Palladio's own ideals and attitudes toward classical architecture. As the leading intellectual in Vicenza, Trissino stimulated the young man to appreciate the arts, sciences, and Classical literature and he granted him the opportunity to study Ancient architecture in Rome.[4] It was also Trissino who gave him the name by which he became known, Palladio, an allusion to the Greek goddess of wisdom Pallas Athene and to a character of a play by Trissino. Indeed the word Palladio means Wise one.[5] After Trissino's death in 1550, Palladio benefited from the patronage of the Barbaro brothers, Cardinal Daniele Barbaro, who encouraged his studies of classical architecture and brought him to Rome in 1554, and his younger brother Marcantonio Barbaro. The powerful Barbaros introduced Palladio to Venice, where he finally became "Proto della Serenissima" (chief architect of the Republic of Venice) after Jacopo Sansovino. In addition to the Barbaros, the Corner, Foscari, and Pisani families supported Palladio's career.[6]

Andrea Palladio began to develop his own architectural style around 1541. The Palladian style, named after him, adhered to classical Roman principles he rediscovered, applied, and explained in his works.[7]

Andrea Palladio is known to be one of the most influential architects in Western architecture. 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.[8] The palladian villas are located mainly in the province of Vicenza, while the palazzi are concentrated in the city of Vicenza and the churches in Venice. A number of his works are now protected as part of the World Heritage Site City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto. Other buildings by Palladio are to be found within the Venice and its Lagoon World Heritage Site.

Palladio's first major public project began when his designs for rebuilding the hall of the town hall known as the Basilica Palladiana were approved in 1548. He proposed an addition of two-storey stone buttresses reflecting the Gothic style of the existing hall while using classical proportions. The reconstruction was completed in 1617.

Aside from Palladio's designs, his publications contributed to Palladianism. During the second half of his life, Palladio published many books, above all, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The four books of architecture, Venice, 1570). Palladio is most known for his designs of villas and palaces as well as his books.

The precise circumstances of his death are unknown. Palladio died in 1580, retold in tradition, in Maser, near Treviso, and was buried in the church of Santa Corona in Vicenza; since the nineteenth century his tomb is located in the Cimitero Maggiore of Vicenza.

Cultural context

Façade of Palazzo Chiericati in Vicenza

Palladio's architecture was not dependent on expensive materials, which must have been an advantage to his more financially pressed clients. Many of his buildings are of brick covered with stucco. Stuccoed brickwork was always used in his villa designs in order to portray his interpretations of the Roman villa typology.

In the later part of his career, Palladio was chosen by powerful members of Venetian society for numerous important commissions. 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. His success and influence came from the integration of extraordinary aesthetic quality with expressive characteristics that resonated with his client's social aspirations. His buildings served to communicate, visually, their place in the social order of their culture. This powerful integration of beauty and the physical representation of social meanings is apparent in three major building types: the urban palazzo, the agricultural villa, and the church.

Relative to his trips to Rome, Palladio developed three main palace types by 1556. In 1550, the Palazzo Chiericati was completed. The proportions for the building were based on musical ratios for adjacent rooms. The building was centralized by a tripartite division of a series of columns or colonnades. In 1552, the Palazzo Iseppo Porto located in Vicenza was rebuilt incorporating the Roman Renaissance element for façades. A colonnade of Corinthian columns surrounded a main court. The Palazzo Antonini in Udine, constructed in 1556, had a centralized hall with four columns and service spaces placed relatively toward one side. He uses styles of incorporating the six columns, supported by pediments, into the walls as part of the façade. This technique had been applied in his villa designs as well. Palladio experimented with the plan of the Palazzo Iseppo Porto by incorporating it into the Palazzo Thiene. It was an earlier project from 1545 to 1550 and remained uncompleted due to elaborate elevations in his designs. He used Mannerist elements such as stucco surface reliefs and large columns, often extending two-stories high.

In his urban structures he developed a new improved version of the typical early Renaissance palazzo (exemplified by the Palazzo Strozzi). Adapting a new urban palazzo type created by Bramante in the House of Raphael, Palladio found a powerful expression of the importance of the owner and his social position. The main living quarters of the owner on the second level were clearly distinguished in importance by use of a pedimented classical portico, centered and raised above the subsidiary and utilitarian ground level (illustrated in the Palazzo Porto and the Palazzo Valmarana Braga). The tallness of the portico was achieved by incorporating the owner's sleeping quarters on the third level, within a giant two-story classical colonnade, a motif adapted from Michelangelo's Capitoline buildings in Rome. The elevated main floor level became known as the "piano nobile", and is still referred to as the "first floor" in continental Europe.

Palladio also established an influential new building format for the agricultural villas of the Venetian basement walls of Victorian residences is a late remnant of the Palladian format, clearly expressed as a podium for the main living space for the family.

Similarly, Palladio created a new configuration for the design of Catholic churches that established two interlocking architectural orders, each clearly articulated, yet delineating a hierarchy of a larger order overriding a lesser order. This idea was in direct coincidence with the rising acceptance of the theological ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, who postulated the notion of two worlds existing simultaneously: the divine world of faith and the earthly world of humans. Palladio created an architecture which made a visual statement communicating the idea of two superimposed systems, as illustrated at San Francesco della Vigna. In a time when religious dominance in Western culture was threatened by the rising power of science and secular humanists, this architecture found great favor with the Catholic Church as a clear statement of the proper relationship of the earthly and the spiritual worlds.


Although his buildings are all in a relatively small part of Italy, Palladio's influence was far-reaching. One factor in the spread of his influence was the publication in 1570 of his architectural treatise, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture), which set out rules others could follow. The first book includes studies of decorative styles, classical orders, and materials. The second book included Palladio's town and country house designs and classical reconstructions. The third book has bridge and basilica designs, city planning designs, and classical halls. The fourth book included information on the reconstruction of ancient Roman temples. Before this landmark publication, architectural drawings by Palladio had appeared in print as illustrations to Daniele Barbaro's "Commentary" on Vitruvius.[9]

Interest in his style was renewed in later generations and became fashionable throughout Europe, for example in parts of the Loire Valley of France. In Britain, Inigo Jones, Elizabeth Wilbraham, and Christopher Wren embraced the Palladian style. In his Italian Journey, Johann von Goethe describes Palladio as a genius, commending his unfinished Convent of Saint Maria della Carita as the most perfect existing work of architecture. Another admirer was the architect, Richard Boyle, 4th Earl of Cork, also known as Lord Burlington, who, with William Kent, designed Chiswick House. The influence of Palladio even spread to America. Thomas Jefferson loved that style of architecture and the United States Capitol building is an example of a slightly evolved version of Palladio's works. Exponents of Palladianism include the eighteenth century Venetian architect, Giacomo Leoni, who published an authoritative four-volume work on Palladio and his architectural concepts.

More than 330 of Palladio's original drawings and sketches still survive in the collections of the Royal Institute of British Architects,[10] most of which originally were owned by Inigo Jones. Jones collected a significant number of these on his Grand Tour of 1613-1614, while some were a gift from Henry Wotton.[11]

The Center for Palladian Studies in America, Inc., a nonprofit membership organization, was founded in 1979 to research and promote understanding of Palladio’s influence in the architecture of the United States.

Chronology of the works

Note: the chronology[12] is generally referred to the project of the works, not to the construction.



Church architecture

  • 1531: Portal for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi (Vicenza), Vicenza (attributed)
  • 1558: Dome for the Cathedral of Vicenza, Vicenza (destroyed in a bombing during the II World War, then rebuilt)
  • 1558: Façade for the Basilica of San Pietro di Castello, Venice (completed after Palladio's death)
  • 1560-1563 circa: cloister of the cipressi and refettorio of the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
  • 1560: Convento della Carità, Venezia (only the cloister and the atrium destroyed in 1630 in a fire)
  • 1563 circa: Side portal for the Cathedral of Vicenza
  • 1564: Façade for the church of San Francesco della Vigna, Venice
  • 1565: Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (completed between 1607 and 1611 after Palladio's death, with a different façade, by Vincenzo Scamozzi)
  • 1574: Façade for Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna (project)
  • 1576 circa: Cappella Valmarana (for Isabella Nogarola Valmarana) in the church of Santa Corona, Vicenza
  • 1577: Church of Il Redentore, Venice
  • 1578: Church of Santa Maria Nova, Vicenza (project attributed; completed in 1590 after Palladio's death)
  • 1580: Church of Santa Lucia, Venice (drawings for the interior; demolished)
  • 1580: Church (Tempietto Barbaro) of Villa Barbaro, Maser



External links

  • Palladio and Britain Online exhibition from the Royal Institute of British Architects (English)
  • Palladio and The Veneto Online exhibition from the Royal Institute of British Architects (English)
  • Palladio Centre and Museum in Vicenza, Italy (English) (Italian)
  • The Center for Palladian Studies in America, Inc.
  • Villa Cornaro
  • Quincentenary of Andrea Palladio's birth - Celebration Committee Describes a major exhibition touring venues in Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States
  • Official Website of the 500 Years Exhibition in Vicenza - Italy (2008) (English) (Italian)
  • Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy, at the Royal Academy, review, The Telegraph, 2 February 2009
  • David Linley on the influence of Andrea Palladio
  • How I Spent A Few Days in Palladio's World, The Wall Street Journal, 3 March 2009
  • All He Surveyed, Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker, 30 March 2009
  • Principles of Palladio's Architecture: II, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 1945
  • Nature and Antiquity in the Work of Andrea Palladio, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, September 2000
  • Digital images of 1721 and 1742 edition of The architecture of A. Palladio

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