Author: Sebastiano Serlio (Italian, 14751554)
Venice: Francesco de' Franceschi, 1584
Woodcut illustration; Overall: 9 3/4 x 7 3/16 x 2 9/16 in. (24.8 x 18.2 x 6.5 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1924 (188.8.131.52)
As the first practical and fully illustrated "handbook" of architecture including plans and elevations, Serlio's work, begun in 1537 and published book by book, had a profound impact on the development of Renaissance architecture. In the seventh book, on "Miscellenea" or "Accidenti" (1584), containing a section on villas, Serlio divided his designs into buildings in the city and those in the countryside. Unlike Palladio, he offered different designs for private dwellings distinguishing between various socioeconomic levels in society, a principle worked out in further detail in his unpublished sixth book on domestic architecture (the completed manuscript of which is kept in the Avery Library at Columbia University, New York). The print illustrated here depicts Serlio's project for a "casa fuori della città," or villa for the wealthy patron on the outskirts of the city. The villa has a perfect square plan with a large courtyard at the center and in front. The villa's front elevation, shown here, consists of an open gallery flanked by pavilions. Serlio specifically stressed the importance of open loggias instead of closed facades in houses "alla campagna," since they provide easy access to the outdoors and delightful prospects of the natural surroundings.