The father of Neoclassicism and undisputed heavyweight champion of Renaissance architects
Order, balance, elegance, harmony with the landscape, and a human scale are all apparent in the creations of architect Andrea Palladio (1508–80).
Palladio was working as a stonemason and sculptor when, at 30, inspired by the design of ancient buildings he studied on trips to Rome, he turned his hand to architecture and applied the principles of classical proportion to Renaissance ideals of grace, symmetry, and functionality.
Vicenza, the little city near Venice where Palladio lived as a boy and where he returned in his prime, is graced with many Palladian palazzi and a church as well as his Teatro Olympico.
In Venice, he designed the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore and Redentore.
Palladio is best known, though, for the villas he built on the flat plains of the Veneto for Venetian nobles yearning to escape the cramped city. Nineteen of these villas still stand, including what may be his finest, La Rotunda, outside Vicenza.
The design of this and Palladio’s other villas—square, perfectly proportioned, elegant yet functional—may strike a note of familiarity with American and British visitors: Palladio influenced generations of architects who followed his lead when they designed neoclassical plantation houses in the American South and country estates in England, his "Palladian" style informing everything from British architecture to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.
Other Palladio masterpieces include Vicenza's Palazzo della Ragione and Palazzo Valmarana (1566), and in the Veneto countryside around Vicenza the Villa Babaro and Villa Foscari. His final work is the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza (1580), an attempt to reconstruct a Roman theater stage backdrop as described in ancient writings. He also designed the Venetian churches San Giorgio Maggiore (1565–1610) and Il Redentore.
Selected works by Andrea Palladio in Italy
The Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, built between 1566 and 1610 by Andrea Palladio in the San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice