Venice and Vitruvius Reading Venice with Daniele Barbaro and Andrea Palladio Margaret Muther D'Evelyn

Publication date:
16 Jul 2012
Yale University Press
504 pages: 241 x 171mm
142 line drawings + 1 color illus.
Sales territories:

In about 35-25 B.C.E., the Roman architect Vitruvius produced his encyclopaedic ten-book summary of the principles of Hellenistic architecture, "De architectura" ("On Architecture"). These ideas have stimulated architects ever since. In the mid-16th century, the architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and the humanist Daniele Barbaro (1513-1570) looked to the city of Venice in order to understand and interpret Vitruvius' text, which was still in need of clarification and which would enable them to solve contemporary architectural problems. Barbaro and Palladio found in the city's medieval and Renaissance streets, palaces, churches and towers living principles that enabled them to interpret the ancient ones. By 1556, Barbaro incorporated his and Palladio's observations into their Commentaries on Vitruvius, and two distinctly new editions for different audiences followed a decade later.

Margaret D'Evelyn has gathered evidence from published and unpublished versions of the Commentaries to document how Palladio's understanding of Vitruvius influenced Barbaro. This engrossing volume also charts the invention of the illustrated architectural book and how major architect-authors, Leon Battista Alberti, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Cesare Cesariano, Sebastiano Serlio, and Guillaume Philandrier, contributed to its development - demonstrating how Vitruvius shaped the way the city of Venice was viewed.

Margaret D'Evelyn is an associate professor of art history in the Department of Art and Art History at Principia College.

"D'Evelyn is as sensitive to the mismatch between the classical ideal and the reality of lagoon building as she is to their occasional congruence." Apollo Magazine

"By suggesting how [Vitruvius’] ideas inspired his successors, and how their theories shaped physical structures, D’Evelyn has shown what lay behind the new look that overtook Venice in the 16th century."—Theodore K. Rabb, Art Newspaper

"D’Evelyn’s free flowing text carries its erudition lightly." Deborah Howard, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.