Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Villa Cornaro

Image from Hans A. Rosbach

After visiting a couple of Palladio's smaller villas, we turn to one of his grander houses.

The Villa Cornaro, located in the village of Piombino Dese just outside Venice, was built in 1552-53. Palladio's great innovation on the Villa Cornaro is the two-story portico and loggia, with its double set of columns under a projecting pediment. It's the most distinctive feature of the house, and Palladio used it to great effect on both the front and back of the villa.

It's a highly impressive device, signaling the importance of the house and its owner to the rest of the village. But it does more than that. It visually pulls together the upper and lower floors of the house into a unified whole. It's also practical, creating a comfortable, shady space.

Image from www.boglewood.com

This was absolutely radical when Palladio used it here for the first time. It has since become such a standard architectural device that it's easy to forget the significance of Palladio's invention.

Many of the grand antebellum plantation houses in the South were built in a Palladian style, and the two-story portico and loggia was a recurring motif. This is a particularly fine example: Drayton Hall, in Charleston, South Carolina, built in 1742.

Palladio's design is hugely flexible and adaptable. Drayton Hall took it largely verbatim from Palladio, but with a pair of steps leading up the the portico instead of the single wide set of steps on the Villa Cornaro. However, here's another version of the same motif, which has been adapted extensively but where Palladio's influence is still recognizable. Here, the portico is curved, with no pediment. There's a single run of double-height columns instead of the separate columns on the first and second floors. The White House, south facade. Built 1792-1800.


Reggie said...

Am loving these posts. Have one small thing to bring to your attention: your picture of the White House shows the second floor balcony that was added by President Truman in the 1950s, as the building was originally built without one (and I believe, actually that the columns were added in the 19th century, at least the ones of the front portico). This notwithstanding, am enjoying your ode to Palladio and his villas.

Sir Fopling Flutter said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I knew that the columns were not original to the building. However, I didn't know that the second floor balcony was so recent.