Palladio and His Legacy offers a rare opportunity to see
some of the most important drawings in the world of
architecture—thirty-one, 16th-century works from the hand of the Italian
Renaissance master Andrea Palladio. These illustrations link the
splendor of ancient Rome to the power and wealth of the Venetian
Republic and, ultimately, to the symbols of our American democracy.
The Late Italian Renaissance master Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) is
the most influential architect of the last 500 years. His architecture
synthesized the lessons of the ancient Romans with the achievements of
his predecessors and contemporaries, including Bramante, Raphael, and
Michelangelo. Palladio's mastery of the classical orders, proportion,
and harmony was unparalleled. His projects in Venice and the surrounding
region set new standards in design and redefined the potential of the
art form, especially for domestic structures. Palladio's legacy was
secured in 1570 when he published I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The Four Books on Architecture). One part theory, one part portfolio,
and two parts archaeology, this work has had a more profound impact on
the built world than any architectural treatise before or since.
Conjectural portrait of Andrea Palladio, c. 1715.
Engraved after Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734). Courtesy RIBA British Architectural Library.
In America, to an even greater extent than in Europe, or even
Britain, the illustrations and words of Palladio have forged an enduring
legacy: classical forms have been appropriated and incorporated into
the mainstream of architectural expression. By liberally applying the
signature motif of ancient temples, the columned portico, to the
residential realm, he forever elevated the potential of the humblest
home. His five-part schemes linking a primary residence and its
accessory farm structures into a symmetrical and cohesive composition
became models for how to organize plantations, or nearly any group of
related structures. And Palladio's comprehensive reconstruction drawings
of Roman temples inspired the design of our temples to democracy—the
nation's public buildings—in the monumental Classical Style.
Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey is
organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects Trust, London, in
association with the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura
Andrea Palladio, Vicenza, and is presented in Washington, D.C. in
partnership with the National Building Museum.