Andrea Palladio Essay examples

Andrea Palladio Essay examples

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The Renaissance produced a wealth of great skill and craftsmanship. Describe in detail the work of one of its great artists or architects.



Andrea Palladio (1508-80) was one of the most influential figures of Renaissance architecture, who worked in Vicenza in northern Italy as well as in Venice and the surrounding Veneto.

Born in Padua, Palladio trained as a stonemason moving to Vicenza in 1524 to continue his training. Giangiorgio Trissino (1478-1550), his patron, introduced him to classical and humanist studies and took him on his first trip to Rome – where he later spent two years studying. His architectural development was deeply influenced by this direct study of Roman antiquity.

Trissino’s patronage gave Palladio access to a powerful humanist circle who provided him with commissions for the duration of his career – including Palladio’s public projects such as the Palazzo della Ragione, or Basilica, and the Teatro Olimpico which together permanently changed Vicenza’s public architecture.

Originally a Gothic town hall, the Palazzo della Ragione or Basilica (commissioned in 1549), was on the verge of crumbling and Palladio won a competition to redesign it. His answer was to encase it on three sides with a two-storey loggia that provided reinforcement and transformed the exterior with classic columned arcades on two levels. Arches were placed between pilasters, Doric on the lower level, Ionic above, supporting entablatures. In each bay, the arch rests on small columns placed away from the larger pilasters with a rectangular gap in between - now known as the ‘Palladian motif’.

Palladio had an exceptional grasp of the use of proportion in classical architecture and believed beautiful architecture improved p...


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...d in 1580, the project had only just begun. The theatre was completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi assisted by Palladio’s son, Silla, and would serve as a model for theatres across Europe for centuries.

Palladio reinvented the Veneto’s architecture – and his influence eventually extended a long way past the region’s borders. His impact was very much helped by the publication of his I Quattro Libri dell’ Architectura (The Four Books of Architecture) in 1570. Covering classical design and including translations from Vitruvius, illustrative woodcut plates of classical design and of his own Renaissance work, the text was known throughout Europe – particularly in England, notably by Inigo Jones, the 17th Century English architect – and ultimately in America where buildings such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia (1770) are clearly founded on Palladian principles.

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