The current exhibition at the Pierpont Morgan Library (running from April 2nd to August 1st, 2010) is the first time original drawings by Palladio have been exhibited in New York and the first time in the United States since 1982. The exhibition of 33 original drawings clearly illustrates not only how Palladio translated the architecture of antiquity into his own language, but how his influence traveled and was adopted in England and the United States. Charles Hind, exhibit curator says, Palladio “combined theory and practice in publications and buildings as no other Renaissance architect.”
The villas of the Veneto built by Palladio are based on the principles of simplicity and proportion. A simple notion, it might seem, but Palladio proceeded in making architecture more democratic.
It would follow that Thomas Jefferson owned several editions of Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dell’ Architecttura (published in 1570), what he often referred to as “the Bible.”
Many of Palladio’s drawings were acquired by Inigo Jones and carefully studied by him. Jones was a stage designer until that time, and then became England’s first architect and responsible for Anglo-Palladianism. Lord Burlington, another Palladian enthusiast, brought more original drawings into England. His property passed to his daughter and heiress Charlotte and into the family of the Dukes of Devonshire. In 1894, the drawings were given to RIBA – the Royal Institute of British Architects, whose Trust is organizing this exhibition in association with the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architecttura de Andrea Palladio, in Vicenza, Italy.
This exhibition illustrates how Palladio’s design principles of proportion, harmony and beauty made the journey from Vicenza to North America: from Colonial times to the current day, through southern domestic architecture, to Jefferson’s design for the White House and the Virginia State capital. Models for the exhibitions were made by Timothy Richards and examples of his work can be purchased in the Morgan Library book shop, a must stop on the way out.
“The Villas of Palladio also mark an important moment in the history of the home, the beginning of domestic architecture – that is, the beginning of architects’ interest in the private house.” Witold Rybczynski. (The Perfect House, Scribner 2003.)
The weekend after visiting the exhibition, I had a business trip to Virginia which included Monticello. Much more on that in a story in June… Before leaving the area I went to visit the ruins at Barboursville; Jefferson’s adaptation of Villa Barbaro in Treviso was the inspiration for Governor Barbour’s mansion. Tragically, on Christmas day 1884 the house burned to the ground. Its brick ruins currently protected by the owners, the Zonin family, of
Jefferson’s design embodied a number of his renowned signatures -- the integration of the structure into an elevated knoll, the dome (not erected), and an octagonal room at the focal point of the wings of the house. Here, the octagon forms a core for the three stories of the house; from the main level it rises as one room, 2 stories high. The grandeur of this room, projecting from the south facade, lends power and elegance to the house.
Four ionic columns announce the porticos front and rear, flanked by symmetrical wings revealing time worn brick and an octagon standing roofless. Ruins have a haunting romantic quality. They are also intellectually puzzling as you attempt to reconstruct the house in your head, what was the floor plan, where was the staircase, what was the view from the porticos and on…
Photos of the ruins are on C’est Inspiré.
Websites and Info
The Morgan Library & Museum
Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016
Exhibition runs April 2 through August 1, 2010.
Different types of models and each can be adapted to the customers’ needs. It is possible to produce a small limited edition run of models or one piece. Models may vary in size between six inches high to three foot high. Costs will vary depending on size, complexity and the number to be made.
Models available for purchase in the Morgan gift shop.
17655 Winery Rd.
Barboursville, VA 22923
Winery and Visitors center
Palladio and his Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey, Editors Charles Hind and Irena Murray (Available at the Morgan Library and Museum.)
Palladio, by Giovanni Giaconi
The Four Books of Architecture, by Andrea Palladio
Palladio Beltramini, by Howard Guido and Burns
Palladian Style, by Steven Parissien
The Perfect House, by Witold Rybczynski