Palladian architecture is a European architectural style derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). What is today recognised as Palladian architecture evolved from his concepts of symmetry, perspective and the principals of formal classical temple architecture from the Ancient Greeks and Romans traditions. From the 17th century Palladio's interpretation of this classical architecture was adapted as the style known as "Palladianism". It continued to develop until the end of the 18th century.
Palladianism was briefly in vogue in England during the 17th century, but its flowering was cut short by the onset of the English Civil War and the imposition of austerity which followed. In the early 18th century it returned to fashion, not only in England but also, directly influenced from Britain, in Prussia. Count Francesco Algarotti may have written to Lord Burlington from Berlin that he was recommending to Frederick the Great the adoption in Prussia of the architectural style Burlington had introduced in England, but Knobelsdorff's opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard, based on Campbell's Wanstead House, had been constructed from 1741. Later in the century, when the style was falling from favour in Europe, it had a surge in popularity throughout the British colonies in North America, highlighted by examples such as Drayton Hall in South Carolina, the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island, the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City, the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Maryland and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Poplar Forest in Virginia.
The style continued to be utilized in Europe throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, where it was frequently employed for public and municipal buildings. By the latter half of the 19th century it was rivalled by the Gothic revival in the English-speaking world, when champions such as Augustus Pugin, remembering the origins of Palladianism in ancient temples, deemed it too pagan for Anglican and Anglo-Catholic worship. As an architectural style it has continued to evolve; its pediments, symmetry and proportions are clearly evident in the design of many modern buildings today.
Buildings entirely designed by Palladio are all in Venice and the Veneto, with an especially rich grouping of palazzi in Vicenza. They include villas and churches such as the Basilica del Redentore in Venice. In Palladio's architectural treatises he followed the principles defined by the Roman architect Vitruvius and his 15th-century disciple Leon Battista Alberti, who adhered to principles of classical Roman architecture based on mathematical proportions rather than the rich ornamental style also characteristic of the Renaissance.
Palladio designed his villas with reference to their setting. If on a hill, such as Villa Capra, facades were of equal value so that occupants could enjoy views in all directions. Porticos were built on all sides to enable the villa’s residents to appreciate the countryside while remaining protected from the sun. Palladio sometimes used a loggia as an alternative to the portico. This is most simply be described as a recessed portico, or an internal single storey room, with pierced walls that are open to the elements. Occasionally a loggia would be placed at second floor level over the top of a loggia below, creating what was known as a double loggia. Loggias were sometimes given significance in a facade by being surmounted by a pediment. Villa Godi has as its focal point a loggia rather than a portico, plus loggias terminating each end of the main building.
Palladio would often model his villa elevations on Roman temple facades. The temple influence, often in a cruciform design, later became a trademark of his work.[n 1] Palladian villas are usually built with three floors: a rusticated basement or ground floor, containing the service and minor rooms. Above this, the piano nobile accessed through a portico reached by a flight of external steps, containing the principal reception and bedrooms, and above it is a low mezzanine floor with secondary bedrooms and accommodation. The proportions of each room within the villa were calculated on simple mathematical ratios like 3:4 and 4:5, and the different rooms within the house were interrelated by these ratios. Earlier architects had used these formulas for balancing a single symmetrical facade; however, Palladio's designs related to the whole, usually square, villa.
Palladio deeply considered the dual purpose of his villas as both farmhouses and palatial weekend retreats for wealthy merchant owners. These symmetrical temple-like houses often have equally symmetrical, but low, wings sweeping away from them to accommodate horses, farm animals, and agricultural stores. The wings, sometimes detached and connected to the villa by colonnades, were designed not only to be functional but also to complement and accentuate the villa. They were, however, in no way intended to be part of the main house, and it is the design and use of these wings that Palladio's followers in the 18th century adapted to become an integral part of the building.
Main article: Venetian window
The Palladian, Serlian, or Venetian window features largely in Palladio's work and is almost a trademark of his early career. There are two different versions of the motif: properly the simpler one is called a Venetian window, and a more elaborate and specific one a Palladian window or "Palladian motif", although this distinction is not always observed.
The Venetian window has three parts: a central high round-arched opening, with two smaller rectangular openings to the sides, the latter topped by lintels and supported by columns. This is derived from the ancient Roman triumphal arch, and was first used outside Venice by Donato Bramante and later mentioned by Sebastiano Serlio (1475–1554) in his seven-volume architectural book Tutte l'opere d'architettura et prospetiva expounding the ideals of Vitruvius and Roman architecture. It can be used in series, but is often only used once in a facade, as at New Wardour Castle, or once at each end, as on the inner facade of Burlington House (true Palladian windows).
Palladio's elaboration of this, normally used in a series, places a larger or giant order in between each window, and doubles the small columns supporting the side lintels, placing the second column behind rather than beside the first. This was in fact introduced in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice by Jacopo Sansovino (1537), and heavily used by Palladio in the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, where it is used on both storeys; this feature was less often copied. Here the openings are not strictly windows, as they enclose a loggia. Pilasters might replace columns, as in other contexts. Sir John Summerson suggests that the omission of the doubled columns may be allowed, but the term "Palladian motif" should be confined to cases where the larger order is present.
Palladio used these elements extensively, for example in very simple form in his entrance to Villa Forni Cerato. It is perhaps this extensive use of the motif in the Veneto that has given the window its alternative name of the Venetian window; it is also known as a Serlian window. Whatever the name or the origin, this form of window has probably become one of the most enduring features of Palladio's work seen in the later architectural styles evolved from Palladianism. According to James Lees-Milne, its first appearance in Britain was in the remodelled wings of Burlington House, London, where the immediate source was actually in Inigo Jones's designs for Whitehall Palace rather than drawn from Palladio himself. Lees-Milne describes the Burlington window as “the earliest example of the revived Venetian window in England”.
A variant, in which the motif is enclosed within a relieving blind arch that unifies the motif, is not Palladian, though Lord Burlington seems to have assumed it was so, in using a drawing in his possession showing three such features in a plain wall. Modern scholarship attributes the drawing to Vincenzo Scamozzi.[n 2] Burlington employed the motif in 1721 for an elevation of Tottenham Park in Savernake Forest for his brother-in-law Lord Bruce (since remodeled). Kent picked it up in his designs for the Houses of Parliament, and it appears in Kent's executed designs for the north front of Holkham Hall.
During the 17th century, many architects studying in Italy learned of Palladio's work. Foreign architects then returned home and adopted his style, leading to its widespread use in England, Europe and North America. Isolated forms of Palladianism throughout the world were brought about in this way. However, the Palladian style did not reach the zenith of its popularity until the 18th century. In Venice itself there was an early reaction to the excesses of Baroque architecture that manifested itself as a return to Palladian principles. The earliest neo-Palladians there were the exact contemporaries, both trained up as masons, Domenico Rossi (1657–1737)[n 3] and Andrea Tirali (1657–1737).[n 4] Tommaso Temanza, their biographer, proved to be the movement's most able and learned proponent; in his hands the visual inheritance of Palladio's example became increasingly codified in correct rules and drifted towards neoclassicism.
The most influential follower of Palladio anywhere, however, was the Englishman Inigo Jones, who travelled throughout Italy with the 'Collector' Earl of Arundel, annotating his copy of Palladio's treatise, in 1613–14.[n 5] The "Palladianism" of Jones and his contemporaries and later followers was a style largely of facades, and the mathematical formulae dictating layout were not strictly applied. A handful of great country houses in England built between 1640 and 1680, such as Wilton House, are in this Palladian style. These follow the great success of Jones' Palladian designs for the Queen's House at Greenwich and the Banqueting House at Whitehall, the uncompleted royal palace in London of King Charles I.
However, the Palladian designs advocated by Inigo Jones were too closely associated with the court of Charles I to survive the turmoil of the English Civil War. Following the Stuart restoration, Jones's Palladianism was eclipsed by the Baroque designs of such architects as William Talman and Sir John Vanbrugh, Nicholas Hawksmoor, and even Jones' pupil John Webb.
The Baroque style, popular in continental Europe, was never truly to the English taste, being too “theatrical, exuberant” and Catholic. It was quickly superseded when, in the first quarter of the 18th century, four books were published in Britain which highlighted the simplicity and purity of classical architecture. These were:
The most favoured of these among the wealthy patrons of the day was the four-volume Vitruvius Britannicus by Colen Campbell. Campbell was both an architect and a publisher. It was essentially a book of design containing architectural prints of British buildings, which had been inspired by the great architects from Vitruvius to Palladio; at first mainly those of Inigo Jones, but the later works contained drawings and plans by Campbell and other 18th-century architects. These four books greatly contributed to Palladian architecture becoming established in 18th-century Britain. The two living authors became the most fashionable and sought after architects of the era. Due to his book Vitruvius Britannicus, Colen Campbell was chosen as the architect for Henry Hoare I's Stourhead house. Hoare's brother-in-law, William Benson, had designed Wilbury House, the earliest 18th-century Palladian house in Wiltshire, which Campbell had illustrated in Vitruvius Britannicus.[n 6]
At the forefront of the new school of design was the aristocratic "architect earl", Richard Boyle, according to Dan Cruikshank the "man responsible for this curious elevation of Palladianism to the rank of a quasi-religion". In 1729, he and William Kent, designed Chiswick House. This house was a reinterpretation of Palladio's Villa Capra, but purified of 16th century elements and ornament. This severe lack of ornamentation was to be a feature of English Palladianism.
In 1734 Kent and Burlington designed one of England's finest examples of Palladian architecture with Holkham Hall in Norfolk. The main block of this house followed Palladio's dictates quite closely, but Palladio's low, often detached, wings of farm buildings were elevated in significance. Kent attached them to the design, banished the farm animals, and elevated the wings to almost the same importance as the house itself. It was the development of the flanking wings that was to cause English Palladianism to evolve from being a pastiche of Palladio's original work. Wings were frequently adorned with porticos and pediments, often resembling, as at the much later Kedleston Hall, small country houses in their own right.[n 7]
Architectural styles evolve and change to suit the requirements of each individual client. When in 1746 the Duke of Bedford decided to rebuild Woburn Abbey, he chose the Palladian style as it was then the most in fashion, and selected the architect Henry Flitcroft, a protégé of Burlington. Flitcroft's designs, while Palladian in nature, would not be recognised by Palladio himself. The central block is small, only three bays, the temple-like portico is merely suggested, and it is closed. Two great flanking wings containing a vast suite of state rooms replace the walls or colonnades which should have connected to the farm buildings;[n 8] the farm buildings terminating the structure are elevated in height to match the central block and given Palladian windows, to ensure they are seen as of Palladian design. This development of the style was to be repeated in countless houses and town halls in Britain over one hundred years. Often the terminating blocks would have blind porticos and pilasters themselves, competing for attention with, or complementing the central block. This was all very far removed from the designs of Palladio two hundred years earlier. Falling from favour during the Victorian era, the approach was revived by Sir Aston Webb for his refacing of Buckingham Palace in 1913.
English Palladian houses were now no longer the small but exquisite weekend retreats from which their Italian counterparts were conceived. They were not weekend villas but "power houses" in Sir John Summerson's term, the symbolic centres of power of the Whig "squirearchy" that ruled Britain. Summerson thought Kent's Horse Guards on Whitehall epitomised "the establishment of Palladianism as the official style of Great Britain". As the style peaked, thoughts of mathematical proportion were swept away. Rather than square houses with supporting wings, these buildings had the length of the façade as their major consideration: long houses often only one room deep were deliberately deceitful in giving a false impression of size.
During the Palladian revival period in Ireland, even quite modest mansions were cast in a neo-Palladian mould. Palladian architecture in Ireland subtly differs from that in England. While adhering as in other countries to the basic ideals of Palladio, it is often truer to them. In Ireland, Palladianism became political; both the original, and the present Irish parliaments occupy Palladian buildings.
The pioneering Irish architect, Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (1699–1733), became a leading advocates of Palladianism in Ireland. He was a cousin of Sir John Vanbrugh, and originally one of his pupils. He rejected the Baroque style, and spent three years studying architecture in France and Italy before returning to Ireland. His most important Palladian work is the former Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin. He was a prolific architect who went on to design the southern façade of Drumcondra House in 1725 and Summerhill House in 1731, which was completed after Pearce's death by Richard Cassels. Pearce oversaw the building of Castletown House near Dublin, designed by the Italian architect Alessandro Galilei (1691–1737). It is perhaps the only Palladian house in Ireland built with Palladio's mathematical ratios, and one of the three Irish mansions which inspired the design of the White House in Washington.
Other examples include Russborough, designed by Richard Cassels, who also designed the Palladian Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and Florence Court in County Fermanagh. Irish Palladian country houses often feature robust Rococo plasterwork, frequently executed by the Lafranchini brothers, an Irish specialty, which is far more flamboyant than the interiors of their contemporaries in England. So much of Dublin was built in the 18th century that it set a Georgian stamp on the city; however arising out of bad planning and poverty, until recently Dublin was one of the few cities where fine 18th-century housing could be seen in ruinous condition. Elsewhere in Ireland after 1922, the lead was removed from the roofs of unoccupied Palladian houses for its value as scrap, with the houses often abandoned owing to excessive roof-rate based taxes. Some roofless Palladian houses can still be found in the depopulated Irish countryside.
Palladio's influence in North America[n 9] is evident almost from the beginning of architect-designed building there, though the Irish philosopher George Berkeley may have been America's pioneering Palladian. He purchased a large farmhouse in Middletown, Rhode Island in the late 1720s, and added a Palladian doorcase derived from William Kent's Designs of Inigo Jones (1727), which he may have brought with him from London. Palladio's work was included in the library of a thousand volumes amassed for Yale College. Peter Harrison 1749 designs for the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island borrow directly from Palladio's I quattro libri dell'architettura, while his plan for the Newport Brick Market, conceived a decade later, is also Palladian.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) referred to Palladio's Quattro libri as his bible.[n 10] Although a politician, his passion was architecture. Jefferson acquired an intense appreciation of Palladio's architectural concepts, and his designs for his own beloved Monticello, the James Barbour Barboursville estate, Virginia State Capitol, and the University of Virginia were based on drawings from Palladio's book.[n 11] Realizing the political significance of ancient Roman archecture, Jefferson designed his civic buildings in the Palladian style. Monticello (remodelled between 1796 and 1808) is clearly based on Palladio's Villa Capra, however, with modifications, in a style which is described in America today as Colonial Georgian. Jefferson's Pantheon or Rotunda at the University of Virginia is undeniably Palladian in concept and style.
The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Maryland is the only existing work of colonial academic architecture that was principally designed from a plate in Palladio's Quattro libri. The house was designed by the architect William Buckland in 1773–74 for the wealthy farmer Matthias Hammond of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. It was modelled on the design of the Villa Pisani in Montagnana, Italy in Book II, Chapter XIV of I quattro libri dell’achitettura.
In Virginia and Carolina, the Palladian style is found in numerous Tidewater plantation houses, such as Stratford Hall, Westover Plantation and Drayton Hall near Charleston. These examples are all classic American colonial examples of a Palladian taste that was transmitted through engravings, for the benefit of masons—and patrons, too—who had no first-hand experience of European building practice. A feature of American Palladianism was the re-emergence of the great portico which, again, as in Italy, fulfilled the need of protection from the sun; the portico in various forms and size became a dominant feature of American colonial architecture. In the north European countries the portico had become a mere symbol, often closed, or merely hinted at in the design by pilasters, and sometimes in very late examples of English Palladianism adapted to become a porte-cochère; in America, the Palladian portico regained its full glory.
One house which clearly shows this Palladian-Gibbs influence is Mount Airy, in Richmond County, Virginia, built in 1758–62. At Westover the north and south entrances, made of imported Portland stone, were patterned after a plate in William Salmon's Palladio Londinensis (1734).[n 12] The distinctive feature of Drayton Hall, its two-storey portico, was derived directly from Palladio.
The neoclassical presidential mansion, the White House in Washington, was inspired by Irish Palladianism. Both Castle Coole and Richard Cassel's Leinster House in Dublin claim to have inspired the architect James Hoban, who designed the executive mansion, built between 1792 and 1800. Hoban, born in Callan, County Kilkenny, in 1762, studied architecture in Dublin, where Leinster House (built c. 1747) was one of the finest buildings at the time. The White House is more neoclassical than Palladian, particularly the South façade, which closely resembles James Wyatt's 1790 design for Castle Coole, also in Ireland. Castle Coole is, in the words of the architectural commentator Gervase Jackson-Stops, "A culmination of the Palladian traditions, yet strictly neoclassical in its chaste ornament and noble austerity."
The only two houses in the United States from the English colonial period that can be definitively attributed to designs from I quattro libri dell'architettura are architect William Buckland's Hammond-Harwood House (1774) in Annapolis, Maryland and Thomas Jefferson's first Monticello. The design source for the Hammond-Harwood House (see above) is Villa Pisani, and for the first Monticello (1770), the Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese (Book II, Chapter XIV). Thomas Jefferson later covered this façade with additions so that the Hammond-Harwood House remains the only pure and pristine example of direct modeling in America today.
Because of its later development, Palladian architecture in Canada is rare. In her 1984 study, Palladian Style in Canadian Architecture, Nathalie Clerk notes its particular impact on public architecture, as opposed to the private houses in the United States. One notable example is the Nova Scotia Legislature building, completed in 1819. Another example is Government House in St. John's, Newfoundland. The Center for Palladian Studies in America, Inc., a non-profit membership organization, was founded in 1979 to research and promote understanding of Palladio's influence in the United States.
The rise of neo-Palladianism in England contributed to its adoption in Prussia. Count Francesco Algarotti wrote to Lord Burlington to inform him that he was recommending to Frederick the Great the adoption in his own country of the architectural style Burlington had introduced in England. By 1741, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff had already begun construction of the Berlin Opera House on the Unter den Linden, based on Campbell's Wanstead House.
By the 1770s in Britain, such architects as Robert Adam and William Chambers were in huge popular demand, but they were now drawing on a great variety of classical sources, including ancient Greece, so much so that their forms of architecture were eventually defined neoclassical rather than Palladian. In Europe, the Palladian revival ended by the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century, proponents of the Gothic Revival such as Augustus Pugin, remembering the origins of Palladianism in ancient temples, considered it pagan, and unsuited to Anglican and Anglo-Catholic worship. In North America, Palladianism lingered a little longer; Thomas Jefferson's floor plans and elevations owe a great deal to Palladio's Quattro libri.
The term "Palladian" is often misused in modern discourse, and tends to be used to describe buildings with any classical pretensions. There was however a revival of a more serious Palladian approach in the 20th century; Colin Rowe, an influential architectural theorist, published an essay, The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa, (1947), in which he drew links between the compositional "rules" in Palladio's villas and Le Corbusier's villas at Poissy and Garches. Suzanne Walters, in her article, The Two Faces of Modernism, suggests a continuing influence of Palladio’s ideas on architects of the 20th century.[n 13] In England, Raymond Erith (1904–1973) drew on Palladian inspirations, and was followed in this by his pupil, subsequently partner, Quinlan Terry. Their work, and that of others, led the critic John Martin Robinson to suggest that “the Quattro Libri continues as the fountainhead of at least one strand in the English country house tradition”.[n 14]
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