Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) was one of the greatest Italian architects of the Renaissance. “All over the western world hundreds of thousands of houses, churches and public buildings – writes James Ackerman – descend from the designs of Andrea Palladio. He is the most imitated architect in history”. This is particularly true in England (Inigo Jones and Lord Burlington) and in America (Thomas Jefferson). His buildings are concentrated in Vicenza (palaces and public buildings), in the Venetian countryside (villas) and in Venice (ecclesiastical architecture). Some of his famous villas are to be found not far from Venice: Villa Foscari (Malcontenta), Villa Barbaro (Maser) and Villa Emo (Fanzolo), whereas the celebrated Rotonda is near Vicenza. In Venice, Palladio built part of the courtyard of the Carità convent (today Gallerie dell’Accademia), the façade of San Francesco della Vigna, the Zittelle church and hospice (the first building ever designed for music), the church and the refectory of San Giorgio Maggiore and finally his last and most imposing church : the Redentore (1576-77) on the Giudecca island. Palladio is an extremely free and supple builder, who always appears clear, light and serene. He often shows great complexity deriving from the Roman classical tradition (the temple), an almost “baroque” feeling in his buildings (the thermal bath) and the Venetian medieval tradition, with a sensitivity to Byzantine spatial complexity, particularly in his churches. He may therefore appear classical, mannerist, and neoclassical ahead of its time. Moreover he often exploits the natural environment, at the Villa Barbaro or Villa Rotonda for instance. As Nikolaus Pevsner writes “For the fist time in the Western architecture landscape and building were conceived as belonging to each other, as dependent on each other”.
To celebrate the quincentenary of his birth, the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, with the Royal Institute of Bristish Architects (RIBA), have organized a major exhibition in Vicenza (20 September 2008 – 6 January 2009). It will then move to London (Royal Academy of Arts, 31 January – 13 April 2009) and will finish in the United States of America in the autumn, 2009.
Palladio in Venice
Church, refectory and cloister in san Giorgio Maggiore monastery.
Façade of San Francesco della Vigna church
Greatest short history about Palladio and his works
James S. Ackerman – Palladio – publisher: Penguin
More information: www.palladio2008.info/html/palladio/opera.php?idOpera=43