quattro libri dell'architettura [Four Books on Architecture]
(Venice 1570), appeared relatively early in the history of
printing. Yet it was preceded by a handful of other architectural
treatises in Italy, Spain and France, some of which clearly
influenced Palladio's own work.
motivation for writing I quattro libri dell'architettura,
he noted in his
was his observation of how much the 'usual manner of building'
diverged from ancient buildings he had investigated and from
those he had read about in the works of 'Vitruvius, Alberti
and the other excellent writers who came after Vitruvius.'
are leading examples of architectural books (with their key
editions) released before Palladio's own treatise appeared.
[Marcus Vitruvius Pollio]
De architettura libri decem
[The ten books on architecture]
(i) Rome: Latin manuscript ed.,
c. 25 B. C. [A 9th century manuscript was rediscovered
(ii) Rome: 1st printed ed. 1486. Edited by
Fra Giovanni Sulpitius.
(iii) Venice: Giovanni de Tredino, 1st printed
and illustrated ed., 1511. Edited by Fra Giovanni Giocondo
(iv) Como: Printed by Gottardo da Ponte for Agostino
Gallo and Aloisio Pirovano, 1st printed Italian language ed. 1521.
Translated by Cesare Cesariano; commentary by Cesare Cesariano,
Benedetto Giovio and Bono Mauro. Illustrated with 119 woodcuts
by Cesare Cesariano and others.
(v) Venice: Francesco Marcolini, 1556. Translated with a
commentary by Daniele Barbaro. Illustrated by Andrea Palladio.
Vitruvius was an architect in classical Rome, born about
75 B. C. Palladio wrote in the Foreword to his Four
Books on Architecture that 'since I always held
the opinion that the ancient Romans, as in many other
things, had also greatly surpassed all those who came
after them in building well, I elected as my master
and guide Vitruvius, who is the only ancient writer
on this art.'
For his 1521 edition
of Vitruvius, the first to appear in Italian, Cesariano
was supposed to provide the entire commentary, but quarreled
with the publishers and abandoned the project after
Book IX, chapter 6, forcing them to have others complete
furnished the illustrations for the 1556 edition, with
the Italian translation and commentary supplied by his
patron and friend Daniele Barbaro.
De re aedificatoria
[Ten books on architecture]
(i) Florence: Latin manuscript
(ii) Florence: 1st printed ed., 1486.
(iii) Venice: Pietro Lauro, 1st Italian ed., 1546.
(iv) Florence: Cosimo Bartoli, 1st illustrated ed., 1565.
(v) London: Giacomo Leoni, 1st English
Alberti's Ten Books
on Architecture was the first treatise on architecture
since classical Rome. Alberti is repeatedly cited
by Pallladio in his Four Books.
Leon Battista Alberti
(1404-1572) was the most celebrated and influential classical
scholar of his age. Born in Genoa, he was educated
in Padua and Bologna and admitted to the priesthood.
His interests and written works ranged from architecture
to painting, sculpture, Italian grammar, cryptology, geography
and even household administration. He was also a
practicing architect, painter and playwright, but his
great strength was in his scholarship and writing.
Trattati di architettura
[Treatises on architecture]
Although available then only in manuscript, the treatises
of Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501) are believed
to have been widely circulated in architectural circles
in the 1500s. His architectural ideas, drawn from
Leon Battista Alberti and and Filarete [Antonio di Pietro
Averlino], influrnced Fra Giovanni Giocondo, Baldasarre
Peruzzi, Sebastiano Serlio, Pietro Cataneo and Palladio.
Concerned that contemporary architecture was compromised
by false proportions and other errors, Francesco urged
that the proportions of classical buildings be recorded
before they became destroyed by time.
proportions are derived from the human body, he insisted.
The human head, for example, he felt was the basis of
entablatures in temple architecture. 'Man, called
a little world, contains in himself all the general perfections
of the whole world.'
Born in Siena, Francesco
was a painter, sculptor and architect. He became
acquainted with Leonardo da Vinci while both were in Milan,
and Leonardo's iconic drawing of 'Vitruvian man' may have
been inspired by Francesco's previous drawing on the same
subject. During his career, Francesco designed fortifications
at Urbino and was involved in work on the cathedrals of
Pavia, Milan and Siena.
De divina proportione
[On divine ratio]
Venice: A. Paganius Paganinus, 1509.
was a peripatetic mathematics scholar and an associate of
both Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci. His earlier work,
Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalita
(Venice 1494), was the first published description of double-entry
bookkeeping. The first part of On Divine Ratio
deals with the 'golden ratio,' the second with architectural
design. Classical builders, he maintained, based all
their works on the proportions of the human body,
Medidas del Romano
Diego de Sagredo, a Spanish priest who spent time in Florence
and Rome before 1522, was primarily concerned with the classical
Orders and theory of proportion. He was heavily influenced
by the notion of Vitruvius, Alberti and Francesco di Giorgio
that the human body provides the proportions of architecture.
Architecture, he said, is based on the 'secrets and experiences
L'Architettura di Sebastiano Serlio
Bolognese [Architecture of Sebastiano
Serlio of Bologna]
(i) Book 4. Regole generali
sopra le cinque maniere de gli edifici (Venice: 1537).
(ii) Book 3. Il terzo libro di Sebastiano Serlio
Bolognese nel qual si figurano e descrivano le antiquita di Roma,
e le altre che sono in Italia, e fuori d'Italia (Venice: 1540).
(iii) Book 1. Libro primo di architettura di Sebastiano
Serlio Bolognese (Paris: 1545).
(iv) Book 2. Paris: 1545.
(v) Book 5. Paris: 1547.
(vi) Book 6. [Not published, but extant in manuscript, c.
(vii) Book 7. Il setimo libro d'architettura nel qual si tratta
di molti accidenti (Frankfurt: 1575).
Serlio projected a series of seven books on architecture,
but only five volumes were published (out of order) in
his lifetime. The sixth volume never appeared and
the seventh was published posthumously. Serlio's
great innovation was his emphasis on practical drawings
and advice for builders instead of abstract theoretical
discussion for intellectuals.
Serlio trained first
in the studio of his father, who was a painter in Bologna.
After a stint in Pesaro, Serlio worked in the Vatican
workshop of Bramante and Raphael, but he later claimed
Baldassare Peruzzi as his most important influence. The
Sack of Rome by forces of the Holy Roman Emperor in 1527
precipitated Serlio's move to Venice. By the following
year he was referring to himself as a 'Professor of Architecture,'
and architecture remained the focus of his work thereafter.
Palladio was acquainted
with Serlio, probably through Palladio's mentor, Giangiorgio
Trissino. (In planning the renovation of his villa
at Cricoli in 1537-1538, Trissino may have relied upon
Serlio's drawing of Raphael's Villa Madama in Rome.)
Palladio attended a theatrical performance staged at Palazzo
Porto in Vicenza in February 1539 in a temporary theater
designed by Serlio. The event prompted formation of Vicenza's
Accademia Olimpico and construction of its Teatro Olimpico,
designed by Palladio. While in Vicenza in 1539,
Serlio presented a proposal for renovating the city's
Basilica, but that commission ultimately went to Palladio.
Later Serlio was in
Verona, where he may have aided Torello Sarayna in producing
his 1540 book De origine et amplitudine civitatis Veronae
(see below). Serlio finally attracted the attention
of King Francis I of France, who invited him to France
to work on the royal chateau at Fontainebleau. He
died in Lyon in about 1554.
Sarayna; woodcut engravings by Giovanni Battista Caroto
De origine et amplitudine civitatis
Verona: Antonio Putelleti, 1540.
work in identifying the antique Roman structures surviving
in cinquecento Verona is overshadowed by the remarkable
illustrations of Caroto, whose 29 woodcuts include plans,
views and architectural details of antiquities, a double-page
view of the city and its environs, and a three-block foldout
of the Roman amphitheater. The book was republished
under Caroto's name, without Sarayna's Latin text, in
1560 and 1764.
Two years after this
book first appeared, Sarayna published a second volume
on Verona, entitled Le historie e fatti de'Veronesi
nelli tempi d'il popolo e signori scaligeri (Verona:
Antonio Portese, 1542).
Libro di Antonio Labacco appartenente
a l'architettura nel qual si figurano alcune notabili antiquità
di Roma [Book of Antonio Labacco
concerning architecture, in which are portrayed some notable antiquities
Antonio Labacco (c. 1495-1559)
was an architect who trained with Antonio da Sangallo (the
younger). Working in Rome, he began creating perspective
drawings of buildings from the city's classical past.
Numerous editions followed, including several published
in Venice beginning in 1567.
I quattro primi libri di architettura
di Pietro Cataneo Senese [The first
four books of architecture of Pietro Cataneo of Siena]
(i) Venice: Figliuoli Manuzio, 1554.
expanded ed. 1567
Palladio: 'Signor Pietro Cataneo was so well pleased when
I told him of [my procedure for defining the entasis of
a column] that he gave it a place in his Treatise on Architecture,
with which he has not a little illustrated this profession.'
The second of the
two editions added four new books, on ornament, water
resources, geometry and perspective.
[Treatise on architecture]
Padua: mss. c.1557-1566; published posthumously.
At his home in Padua,
Cornaro commissioned construction of the Loggia Cornaro,
designed by architect Giovanni Maria Falconetto, which
is generally considered the first building in the Veneto
and northern Italy comprehensively based on the motifs
of classical Rome. Palladio was probably first
introduced to Cornaro in Padua about 1538, and he likely
had access later to Cornaro's unpublished manuscript.
[Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola]
Regola delli cinque ordini dell'architettura
[Canon of the five orders of architecture]
Rome: 1562. Illustrated with 32 drawings.
Based on his own measurements of classical monuments, Vignola
presents a system designed to produce correctly proportioned
columns in the five classical Orders: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian and Composite.
Anton Francesco Doni
Bologna: Alessandro Appresso Benacci, 1566.
Doni, who was likely acquainted with Palladio, is best known
for his bibliographies. In Villas, his artificial
ideas about country life center on the notion that different
kinds of villa are suitable to the different socio-economic
classes. 'Our Princes and Signori, in order to separate
themselves from the great noise of the crowd, make beautiful
country houses . . . so beautiful, rich and comfortable
that they are no different from the palaces and beautiful
structures within the City,' he said.
Le premier tome de l'architecture
de Philibert de l'Orme [The first
book of architecture of Philibert de l'Orme]
Paris: Federic Morel, 1567.
A book of practical advice for patrons and builders.
A native of Lyon, Philibert De l'Orme in his youth spent
time in Rome studying and measuring classical buildings.
Della proportione, et proportionalità
[On ratio and proportion]
de' Francheschi Sanese, 1573.
Palladio praised Belli, a native of Vicenza and a fellow
founder of its Accademia Olimpico, as 'the most excellent
geometrician we have here.' One contemporary writer observed,
'Certainly everybody knows how much talent and nature means
even without learning; or if he does not know it, let him
turn to Andrea Palladio and Silvio Belli. For these with
a minimum of erudition and skill bring back into use the
measurements, forms and works according to the rules of
Archimedes, Euclid and Vitruvius and embellish our age with
very beautiful buildings.'
© 2009, 2010
Center for Palladian Studies in America, Inc.
C. I. G.