Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580

Andrea Palladio,  Teatro Olimpico,  1579-80

Andrea Palladio, Teatro Olimpico, 1579-80

By Lori Stranger


Andrea Palladio was born on the 30th November 1508 in Padua, the Republic of Venice, and died in August of 1880 in Vicenza. He was a renowned architect of his time and maintains a significant influence in architectural design to this day.  Palladio continued the classical style of his predecessor, Bramante, and revived the Roman classical style of harmonious proportions, which became a world standard in architecture. 

His stonemason father organized his apprenticeship with a local stonecutter in 1521; however, he soon left, moving to Vicenza, where he enrolled in the guild of masons and stonecutters.  His architectural abilities were quickly recognised, as he gained the patronage of the humanist, Giangiorgio Trissino. 

Palladio’s first design was for the Villa Godi (1538-1542) at Lonedo, and it illustrates his increasing interest in classical proportions.  Although the simplicity of design starkly contrasts his later style, the symmetrical flanking wings and a walled courtyard in front of his house anticipate his future villa designs. 

In 1541 and again in 1547, Palladio visited Rome, which had a lasting effect on his career. While encountering the works of the great High Renaissance artists, such as Donato Bramante, Peruzzi and Raphael, Palladio also demonstrated an interest in Roman monuments and the Roman baths.  In 1554, on his last trip to Rome, Palladio published The Antiquities of Rome.  In 1556 he collaborated with the Venetian humanist Daniele Barbaro to publish a commentary on Vitruvius' seminal work On Architecture, dated 26BC.

Palladio’s study of classical architecture, l Quattro Libri Dell’architettura, was published in 1570, proving to be highly influential on architectural design for the next two centuries.  The creation of the Palladianist style which continued into the seventeenth century and beyond, most notably seen in Inigo Jones' Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace, London, demonstrates his significant influence on architecture. 

Palladio’s last commissioned work was in 1579-80, to build a theatre in Vicenza for the Accademia Olimpica, intended to stage classical dramas.  The Teatro Olimpico, based on the reconstruction of the ancient Roman theatre at Orange, France, illustrates his continued interest in classical forms throughout his career. 




Britannica, Andrea Palladio.  Accessed 26th November, 2017.

Encyclopaedia, Andrea Palladio.  Accessed 26th November 2017.