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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ancient Rome's Influence in Architecture RunsThrough Palladio

Palladio was fascinated with Rome's Pantheon's deep front portico and shell-like dome.
The thread tying 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio (from whom we have the often-used name "Palladium") to Rome is thin but strong.  Palladio, like hundreds if not thousands of other artists and creators, was inspired by ancient Rome's classical buildings, in particular the Pantheon.
Palladio was also intrigued by the Portico d'Ottavio in the
ghetto of Rome, even designing a "conjectural reconstruction"
of it.

Palladio turned his interest in ancient Roman architecture into the immensely influential I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura  ("The Four Books of Architecture"), the first major work on architecture in Italian rather than Latin.  As one curator noted, "Palladio's book has probably exerted more influence than any other architectural treatise before or since."

The deep, symmetrical front portico and the shell-like dome of the Pantheon are the hallmarks of much of Palladian architecture.
One of Inigo Jones's first designs for the Queen's House London
(Greenwich) - showing the absolute symmetry in Palladio-
inspired design, symmetry that England loved.

St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, built in the early 18th century, uses the deep portico.  And, as our curator noted, "Churches based on this model have been built ever since."

The original US Capitol (burned by the British in 1814) "was in the Anglo-Palladian tradition and had a central Pantheon-type saucer dome."

St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, inspired by
Palladio and then a template for hundreds of
churches thereafter.
Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren in Britain were two architects who promoted Palladian forms.  Thomas Jefferson was also a devotee, as was Goethe.  The US Congress in 2010 declared Palladio, "The Father of American Architecture."

Vicenza on a hot July evening.
We mostly imagine Palladio in his home state of the Veneto, where Vicenza shows off his genius in what may be the most lovely piazza in Italy, and where his magnificent villas dot the Veneto countryside.  Yet it is his incredible influence that brings Palladio to mind almost daily in many countries.
Villa Barbara, also known as Villa di Maser, by Palladio in theVeneto
"Negro Church" - South Carolina, echoing the St.
Martin-in-the-Fields format.


Much of the information and the architectural photos in this post are from an excellent exhibit at  the Royal  Institute of British Architects, London, "Palladio Design - the Good, the Bad and the Unexpected," with exhibition text by Charles Hind and Vicky Wilson.  That exhibit has closed, but the RIBA has frequent exhibitions featuring Palladio.
And a bit of modern Palladianism:  Town Hall, Padua, Italy, by Aldo Rossi, completed 1938.

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