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The Greatest Architect of the Italian Renaissance

In 1650 Palladio received his first commission for a work in Venice proper: completion of the refectory for the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore. Other religious structures in Venice were then given to him, including 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 churches: S. Giorgio Maggiore, Il Redentore and "Le Zitelle" (S. M. della Presentazione). (Another Palladian church, S. Lucia, was razed in the mid-nineteenth century to make way for the railroad station). Surprisingly, despite numerous efforts, Palladio never received any secular commissions in the city of Venice (Palladio's Life, 2003).

Palladio published, as noted above, Four Books of Architecture (Janson, 1986). He also wrote 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. With his sons he published a translation of Caesar's Commentaries and contributed illustrations to Daniele Barbaro's annotated edition of Vitruvius' treatise on classical architecture (Palladio's Life, 2003). Next, 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's Life, 2003, p. 2).

Palladio's 'lifestyle,' as such, is rarely discussed in the literature. However, as Gardner (1952) and Janson (1986) have both pointed out, the artists and architects of t...

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