Year of Palladio

The Four Books: Book Four

Book Four of The Four Books, the section in which Palladio presented his restoration and reconstruction drawings of ancient Roman temples and other public buildings, was no less influential than the other sections of his work. In the foreword to Book Four Palladio wrote:

ìI intend therefore to illustrate in this book the form and ornaments of many ancient temples of which one can still see the ruins and which I have recorded in drawings, so that anyone can understand the form and ornamentsÖ. And although one can see only portions of some of them standing above ground, I have nonetheless proceeded to deduce form them what they must have been like when they were complete, taking into consideration the foundations that could be observed as well.î (Figure 62)

The importance of this effort cannot be overstressed. It marked one of the first concentrated study and recording projects involving above-ground archaeological remains. The results were amazing from the standpoint of Palladioís comprehension of what he observed. Add to that the quality of his drawings: his plans, elevations, sections, and details, all first published as woodcuts. And we must realize that is it is mainly through these drawings that we have an idea of the probable appearance of much of ancient Roman architecture. Moreover, the illustrations in Book Four of The Four Books are a priceless documentation, since a number of the ruins he recorded were subsequently destroyed, either wholly or partially. The impact of Palladioís published illustrations of this large corpus of Roman works has been profound. The drawings presented for the first time a credible image of the grandeur, beauty, and variety of ancient architecture. In writing about the temples Palladio stated: ìThe ancient Greeks and Romans expended the greatest care on them and composed them with the most magnificent ornaments and finest proportions.î

Figure 61
Figure 61
Figure 62
Figure 62

Jeffersonian Palladian | The Four Books: Book Four | The American Renaissance

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