January 31, 2009

Palladio's life and legacy


Speaking about Antonio Canova at the beginning of this month, I wrote that it was not just because he was born in a small village located a few miles from the North-Eastern Italian town where I live, but rather because Canova is the greatest Italian sculptor of the modern times that I felt the need to write that post. Well, I suppose I’m bound to repeat myself on this occasion. Yet, this time the subject is not a sculptor but rather an architect, Andrea Palladio, who was born in Padua—about 30 miles south-west from my hometown—and spent his life creating villas, churches and palaces in Vicenza, Venice and the surrounding Veneto, my home region—but, once again, it is not because of that … that I’m writing this post, but rather because Palladio is the most significant figure in the history of Western architecture!

And five centuries after his birth he not only remains—thanks to his exceptional buildings, which somehow encapsulate the legacy of Italian Renaissance architectural practice—Europe’s greatest architect, he also deeply influenced the theory and understanding of architecture through his celebrated treatise I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura, published in Venice in 1570.

Hence the title of a major new exhibition which will be held at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD, from January 31 to April 13, 2009: “Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy.” It is the first exhibition devoted to Andrea Palladio to be held in London for over 30 years. The show has travelled from Vicenza—where it drew over 100,000 visitors—to mark the 500th anniversary of Palladio’s birth and will move to Washington until Fall 2009. See here and here for further details. Here is the official webpage of the exhibition. And if you are in London, don’t miss it, otherwise you'll have to wait some thirty years before you’ll be given another opportunity to forget gray London, financial worries and winter melancholies ...



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