PALLADIO, Andrea I quattro libri dell’architettura

Venice, Domenico de’ Franceschi, 1570


FIRST EDITION. Folio, four parts in one, separate t-ps, pp. 67 (i), 66 [i.e. 78] (ii), 46 (ii), 128 (viii). Roman letter, woodcut historiated initials, printer’s device to verso of last. Handsome woodcut architectural t-ps with coupled Corinthian columns supporting a broken pediment, personifications of Regina Virtus at head, Architecture and Geometry at the sides, Venus on a ship in a cartouche below. “Two hundred and seventeen woodcuts throughout the four books. (…) One hundred and fifty-six of these are full page blocks, including eighty-four printed as plates, recto and verso of forty-two leaves, the majority in book four.” (Mortimer It.). First t-p a bit dusty, occasional light fingersoiling to outer blank margins, very rare spots or marks, rare Italian marginalia. An excellent copy, crisp and clean, recased in early vellum, original flyleaf, new front and rear endpapers, missing ties, a.e. sprinkled red.


First collected edition of this most important and influential book on architecture, superbly illustrated with an abundance of very fine woodcuts.


Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) was one of the greatest architects of the Italian Renaissance. Born at Padua as Andrea di Pietro, he was given the nickname Palladio (after Pallas Athene, Greek goddess of wisdom), by the renown dramatist Gian Giorgio Trissino, his patron. During his life, Palladio mainly worked in Vicenza, Venice and in the Venetian countryside. “‘The four books of Architecture’ contain the principles of the architectural style which later became known as ‘Palladianism’. (…) [The book] is divided into four sections: orders and elementary problems, domestic building, public building and town planning and temples. Palladio’s style was directly inspired by Roman classical models through the writings of Vitruvius and Alberti. Its characteristics are those of classicism, symmetry, order, fixed mathematical relations of the parts to each other and to the whole, logic and monumentality (…) his buildings remained essentially classical, in contrast to the Baroque style of the period in Rome and Piedmont”. (PMM)


The four books are illustrated with countless beautifully printed woodcuts realised by Giovanni and Cristoforo Chrieger, Cristoforo Coriolano and others, after Palladio’s own designs. In the first book, geometric diagrams show how to calculate the dimensions of rooms in buildings, precise drawings represent the characteristics of the four classical orders and instruct on how to build walls using different materials. Book II contains the plans and images of aristocratic private houses built by Palladio, for example near Venice (villa Rotonda, villa Maser) or Vicenza (palazzo Chiericati, palazzo Thiene, palazzo Valmarana). In Book III, the focus is on public bridges and squares, and Palladio remarkably includes a drawing of an impressive stone bridge ‘of my own invention’ realised for the Grand Canal in Venice. Book IV has the largest number of illustrations, depicting all the most celebrated antique temples of Rome (e.g. the Pantheon, to which seven stunning plates are dedicated), as well as of Tivoli, Naples, Trevi, Scisi in Italy, Pula in Croatia and Nimes in Provence.


“Palladio’s lasting influence on architectural style in many parts of the world was exercised less through his actual buildings than through his textbook (…) In spite of the vogue for the baroque and the fact that Palladio left no immediate successors, his book exerted a powerful influence on contemporary architecture and classical ideals until the eighteenth century. In England this was due in the first place to his enthusiastic follower Inigo Jones (1573-1632) who designed the Queen’s House at Greenwich in the new severe, simple, classical style. (…) From England the style made its way to Scotland Ireland and America.” (PMM). Palladio’s great influence in the United States can be seen in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, his designs for the University of Virginia, and numerous governmental buildings and mansions.

USTC 846298; BM STC It. p. 485; Brunet IV, p. 320; Graesse V, p. 108, Fowler 212; Mortimer It. 352; Printing and the Mind of Man 92; Cicognara 594. This ed not in Adams.
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