Andrea Palladio. Villa Rotonda, Vicenza. ca. 1567-1570
Much of Palladio’s architecture consists of town houses and country villas. The Villa Rotonda, one of Palladio’s finest buildings, exemplifies his interpretations of the ancients. Palladio’s use of the temple front here is more than an expression of his regard for antiquity; he considered this feature both legitimate and essential for decorum - namely, appropriateness, beauty, harmony and utility - befitting the houses of “great men.” This concept was embedded in the social outlook of the later sixteenth century which required the display of great wealth and taste to assert status. His buildings alone would make Palladio an important figure in the history of art, but his influence extended beyond Italy, indeed beyond Europe, through his publications. Palladio’s most important work in this field was his treatise of 1570, The Four Books of Architecture. Whenever later architects sought to express ideas through ancient forms, they consulted Palladio’s Four Books. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, once referred as “the Bible” and based several of his designs for buildings on its examples.
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