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[ITALIAN RENAISSANCE
ARCHITECTURE
The semicircular-headed windows of the palace are filled with moulded tracery carried on columns in the centre of each, which must be looked upon as the classic version of the arcade of the Ducal palace. This feature is found in other early Renaissance work in Venice, as in the Scuola de San Rocco (1517), and the Cornaro Spinelli palace (1480). In the latter, probably also by Pietro Lombardo, there are pilasters only on the groins of the main front, and the window-heads are enclosed in square-headed frames. In the Scuola de San Marco (1488), by Lombardo, we find another type of window, single and lofty, with pilaster strips each side carrying an entablature with pediment. The same window decoration is found on the south and west fronts of the court of the Ducal palace and the external south front, and also in the Camerlenghi palace (1525), by Bergamasco and in other examples of early 16th-century work. In the Scuola de San Rocco the columnar decoration assumes much greater importance, and, in imitation of the triumphal arches of Septimus Severus and Constantine in Rome, the column is completely detached, with a wall-respond behind. Among other examples to be noted are the Cornaro-della-Grande palace (1532), by Sansovino, which is very inferior to his other work in Venice; the Grimani palace (1554), by San Michele (who also designed the fortifications of the Lido); the Zecca or mint (1537), the small loggetta (1540) at the foot of the campanile of St Mark’s and now destroyed, and the Procuratie Nuove (completed by Scamozzi in 1584), all by Sansovino; the Balbi palace (1582), by Vittoria; and the Ponte Rialto (1588), by Antonio da Ponte. Sansovino’s greatest work in Venice was the library of St Mark’s, which was commenced in 1531; in this he has shown not only remarkable powers of design but great boldness in the projection of his columns, cornices and other architectural features. The upper frieze has been increased in height, so as to admit of the introduction of small windows to light an upper storey, and this gives much greater importance and dignity to the entablature crowning the whole structure. Two of the most imposing palaces on the Grand Canal, but of later date, are the Pesaro (1679) and the Rezzonico (1680), both by Longhena, the architect of the Salute church. The former is too much overcharged with ornament, but it has one advantage, the classic superimposed orders of the main front being repeated on the flank overlooking the side canal, with pilasters substituted for the detached columns of the main front. The Rezzonico palace is much quieter in design, and finer in its proportions, but even there the cherubs in the spandrils are too pronounced in their relief.
In Rome there are no important examples of the 15th century, with the exception of the so-called “Venetian palace,” which still retains externally the features of the feudal castle, such as machicolations, small windows and rusticated masonry. This was owing probably to the comparative poverty of the city, which had to recover from the disasters of the 14th century. The earliest example of the Renaissance is that of the Cancellaria palace (1495-1505), by Bramante, the architect of the church at Todi; this was followed by a second and less important example, the Giraud or Torlonia palace (1506). The former is an immense block, 300 ft. long and 76 ft. high, in three storeys, with coursed masonry and slightly bevelled joints, the upper two storeys decorated with Corinthian pilasters of slight projection and crowned with a poor cornice, so that its general effect is very monotonous, and the design is only relieved by the purity of its details, such as those of the window and balcony on the return flank. In 1506 Bramante was instructed to carry out the court of the Vatican, of which the great hemicycle at one end, designed in imitation of similar features in the Roman thermae, is an extremely fine example; to what extent he was responsible for the court of the Loggie, decorated by Raphael, is not known. The Villa Farnesina (1506), best known for its fresco decorations by Raphael and his pupils; the Ossoli palace (1525); and the Massimi palace (1532-1536), with magnificent interiors, were all built by Baldassare Peruzzi. The finest example in Rome is the Farnese palace, commenced in 1530 from the designs of Antonio di Sangallo; the design is astylar, as the employment of the orders is confined to the window dressings, the angles of the front having rusticated quoins; the upper storey, with the magnificent cornice which crowns the whole building, was designed by Michelangelo, and in the upper storey he introduced a feature borrowed from the Roman thermae, brackets supporting the three-quarter detached columns flanking the windows. The brilliance of the design is not confined to the exterior, and the entrance vestibule and the great central court are the finest examples in Rome. Here the upper storey added by Michelangelo is inferior to the two lower storeys by Sangallo.
The museum in the Capitol at Rome, by Michelangelo (1546), is one of those examples in which the principles of design are violated by the suppression of the horizontal divisions of the storeys which it should have been an object to emphasize. By carrying immense Corinthian pilasters, through the ground and first storeys, Michelangelo, it is true, obtained the entablature of the order as the chief crowning feature, and so far the result is a success, but in other hands it led to the decadence of the style. Among other examples in Rome which should be mentioned are the Villa Madama by Giulio Romano (1524); the Nicolini palace (1526) by Giacomo Sansovino; the Villa Medici (1540) by Annibale Lippi; the Chigi palace (1562) by G. de la Porta; the Spada palace (1564) by Mazzoni; the Quirinal palace (1574) by Fontana (the architect who raised the obelisk in the Piazza di San Pietro); and the Borghese palace (1590) by Martino Lunghi.
We now return to about the middle of the 16th century, to the period when the great architects Barozzi da Vignola and Andrea Palladio of Vicenza commenced their career, and by their works and publications exercised a great and important influence on European architecture.
The villa of Pope Julius (1550), and the Costa palace, Rome, are good examples of Vignola’s style, always very pure and of good proportions, but his principal work was that of the Caprarola palace (1555-1559), about 30 m. from Rome, which he built for the cardinal Alessandro Farnese. The plan is pentagonal with a central circular court, and it is raised on a lofty terrace; the palace is in two storeys with rusticated quoins to the angle wings, and the Doric and Ionic orders, superimposed, separating arcades on the lower storeys and windows on the upper. The arcade of the central court is of admirable proportions and detail, second only to that of the Farnese palace. Palladio in his earlier career measured and drew many of the remains of ancient Rome, and more particularly the thermae (the drawings of which are in the Burlington-Devonshire Collection), but he does not seem to have carried out any buildings there. His most important work, and the one which established his reputation, is that known as the basilica at Vicenza (1545-1549), which he enclosed with an arcaded loggia in two storeys of fine design and proportion, and extremely vigorous in its details. He built a large number of palaces in his native town, among which the Tiene (1550) and the Colleone Porto are the simplest and best, the latter being the model on which the front of Old Burlington House (London) was rebuilt in 1716. In the Valmarana, the Consiglio and the Casa del Diavolo he departed from his principles, in carrying the Corinthian pilasters through two floors, and by returning the cornice round the order he destroyed its value as a crowning feature. Among other works of his are the Chiericate (1560), Trissino (1582) and Barbarano (1570) palaces; the Olympic theatre (1580), which was completed after his death; and the Rotonda Capra near Vicenza, reproduced by Lord Burlington at Chiswick.
Though he laid down no rules for the guidance of others, the works of San Michele are superior to those of Palladio, with the exception, perhaps, of the basilica at Vicenza and the library at Venice. In the Bevilacqua palace (1527), at Verona, there is far greater variety of design than in Palladio’s work, and the Pompei palace (1530) and the two gateways at Verona (1533 and 1552) are all bold and simple designs. In the same town is an extremely beautiful example of the early Renaissance, the Loggia del Consiglio (1476) by Fra Giocondo; a similar example with open gallery on the ground storey exists at Padua, where there is also the Giustiniani palace (1524) by Falconetto, an interesting example of a master not much known. The town hall of Brescia (1492) was built from the designs of Tommaso Formentone, who employed for the carving of the medallions on the lower storey, and the pilasters with their capitals and the friezes, various artists of high merit, so that the building takes its rank as one of the finest in north Italy, but independently of their collaboration the design of the first floor is in design and execution equal to Greek work. The upper storey and its circular windows are said to have been added by Palladio, and they are so commonplace and out of scale that by contrast they increase the artistic value of Formentone’s work.
The so-called Palazzo de’ Diamanti at Ferrara, built in 1493 for Sigismondo d’Este, is decorated externally with a peculiar kind of rustication, in which the square face of the stones is bevelled towards the centre in imitation of diamond facets: the quoins of the palace have panelled pilasters richly carved, and similar pilasters flank the entrance door; the windows, with simple architrave mouldings and cornices on ground storey and pediments on the first storey, constitute the only architectural features of a novel treatment.
At Bologna there are two or three palaces of interest,—the Bevilacqua by Nardi (1484), chiefly remarkable for its central court surrounded with arcades, there being two arches on the upper storey to one on the lower, which presents a pleasant contrast and gives scale to the latter; the Fava palace (1484), in which on one side of the court are elaborately carved corbels carrying arches supporting an upper wall; and the Albergati palace (1521), by Peruzzi, in which the architectural decoration is confined to the entrance doorway windows flanked with pilasters and cornices in pediments and the entablatures of the ground and upper storeys, all the features being in stone on a background of simple brick construction. The Casa Tacconi is similarly treated. Many of the streets in Bologna have arcades on which the upper part of the house is built, and there is an endless variety in the capitals of these arcades.
If the palaces of Genoa are disappointing as regards their external design, this is in some measure compensated for by the magnificence of their entrance vestibules, which (with the staircases and the arcades in the courts beyond) are built in white marble, and have probably suggested the title of the “marble palaces of Genoa.” Many of these palaces are situated in narrow streets, so that no general view can be obtained of them, which may account for their exterior being erected in inferior materials with stucco facing. The ground storey of the palaces is almost always raised about 6 to 8 ft. above the street level,