settled life was transformed in 1537, when he was 30 years old. At that
time he was engaged by Gian Giorgio Trissino, one of the period's leading
scholars, to assist in executing new additions which Trissino had designed
for his own villa at Cricoli just outside Vicenza. The association affected
Andrea in at least three ways.
immediately assumed the role of Andrea's mentor and set about the task
of introducing him to the principles of classical architecture and the
other disciplines of Renaissance education. Second, Trissino introduced
his protege to an ever widening circle of patrons, first in Vicenza,
then in Padua, and finally in Venice itself. Third, Trissino bestowed
upon Andrea the name by which he was to become famous: Palladio. Suggesting
Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom, the name was also used by
Trissino for an angelic messenger in an epic poem which he composed
during the same period.
Through their books,
Palladio learned the principles of Vitruvius, the classical Roman architect
whose treatise had been rediscovered in the prior century, and of the
Renaissance commentator, Leon Battista Alberti. Through personal contact,
he became acquainted with the ideas and works of pioneering architects
of his own period, including Giulio Romano, Giovanni Maria Falconetto,
Sebastiano Serlio and Michele Sanmicheli. Under Trissino's sponsorship,
he received further introduction to classical Roman works and to early
Renaissance works on visits to Padua and Venice (1538-9) and an initial
visit to Rome (1541).
By 1538, probably
aided by Trissino's influence, Palladio and his workshop had begun construction
of Villa Godi, the first of a series of country villas and urban palaces
designed by Palladio in the following years for patrons among the provincial
nobility of Vicenza.
A decade later
Palladio began receiving commissions for country villas from prominent
and wealthy leaders of the nobility of Venice itself, such as Daniele
and Marc'Antonio Barbaro and Giorgio Cornaro. The wealth and aspirations
of these new patrons evoked from Palladio those grand and innovative
creations of his middle period upon which his influence on all later
Western architecture is based.
Finally, in 1560
Palladio received his first commission for a work in Venice itself:
completion of the refectory for the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio
Maggiore. Other religious structures in Venice followed: the cloister
of the monastery of S. M. della Carita (now the Accademia Museum) and
the facade of the church of S. Francesco della Vigna. His Venetian works
culminated in three magnificent churches which remain today: S. Giorgio
Maggiore, Il Redentore and "Le Zitelle" (S. M. della Presentazione).
(Another Palladian church, S. Lucia, was razed in the mid-19th century
to make way for the railroad station.) Surprisingly, despite numerous
efforts, Palladio never received any secular commissions in the city
Palladio was an
accomplished user of the new technology of movable type, then only about
one hundred years old. His first book was a guide to the classical ruins
of Rome, prompted presumably by his own frustrations in attempting to
locate various monuments during his visits to that city. He also published,
with his sons, a new translation of Caesar's Commentaries and
contributed illustrations to Daniele Barbaro's annotated edition of
Vitruvius' treatise on classical architecture.
Then, in 1570,
following years of preparation, he published in Venice the masterwork
that ensured his place in architectural history, I Quattro Libri
dell' Architettura [The Four Books of Architecture]. The book set
out his architectural principles as well as practical advice for builders.
The most critical element, perhaps, was the set of meticulous woodcut
illustrations drawn from his own works to illustrate the text. The work
was subsequently translated into every European language and remains
in print today both in paperback and hardcover.
Palladio died in
his adopted town of Vicenza in 1580.