Page C1.1 . 19 July 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department

 

 
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Palladio's Four Books on Architecture

by Robert Tavernor

Editor's Note: In the 16th century, the great architect Andrea Palladio wrote "I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura." The influence of "The Four Books on Architecture" is still felt by professionals four centuries later. Octavo, a publisher of rare books in digital formats, has recently issued a CD-ROM reproduction of a first edition of this classic of architectural literature. The following is excerpted from a commentary by architectural historian Robert Tavernor, which is part of Octavo's publication.

Andrea Palladio (1508-80) was a very successful architect who designed many sumptuous buildings in Venice and the Veneto during the Italian Renaissance. His name is identified with the architectural movement named after him, Palladianism, which emanated from northern Italy and grew in popularity across Europe through the 16th and 17th centuries, and extended to America. Consequently, he is probably the best-known architect in the Western world.

His international fame is due largely to his Italian treatise on architecture, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (1570), four books—or chapters—on the tradition of classical architecture, illustrated by his own designs, which was translated into the main European languages.

Through its combination of clear and direct words and images, I Quattro Libri inspired numerous would-be patrons and architects. In the English-speaking world these included Inigo Jones, architect to the Stuart court in sixteenth-century England. In America, the future president and amateur architect, Thomas Jefferson, referred to an English translation of I Quattro Libri in his possession as "the Bible."

 

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ArchWeek Photo

Title page of Andrea Palladio's Book One of The Four Books on Architecture.
Photo: Octavo

ArchWeek Photo

Ionic column details from Book One.
Photo: Octavo

 

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