Year of Palladio

James Gibbs and Palladio

Palladioís exposition on the orders was also a principal source for the British architect James Gibbs, whose two architectural treatises: A Book of Architecture, Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments (1728) _ and _Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture (1732) were also principal references for colonial American builders and architects _. Gibbs was a leading figure in Britainís 18th-century Anglo-Palladian movement, the vogue for adapting Palladioís classical style to the British architectural scene. Gibbsís published designs, particularly his interpretations of Palladian-style houses for the British aristocracy, provided inspiration for many of our countryís more sophisticated 18th-century works _(Figure 7). In his introduction to Rules for Drawing, Gibbs conceded his debt to Palladio, stating:

ìPalladio in dividing and adjusting his orders, had no doubt excelled the rest, whom I have therefore followed.î

As with The Four Books, Gibbsís A Book of Architecture and Rules for Drawing were available in various colonial libraries and thus were accessible as references for local builders who might not have had their own copies. It is not surprising then that the orders on many of our colonial-period works are derived from Gibbsís plates or from those pattern book writers such as Batty Langley, who shamelessly plagiarized Gibbs (Figure 8).

Gibbsís Rules for Drawing continued to be a standard text for the orders for British architectural students well into the 20th century. On the other hand, Franceís national architectural academy, the Ecole des Beaux Arts, promoted the use of Jacopo da Vignolaís La Regola delli Cinque Ordini díArchitecture (1562) as the primary text for the orders. As a result, American architects of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, particularly those who attended the Ecole, relied on Vignola as the authority for the orders. Hence, many of our classical buildings of that era, known as the American Renaissance, employ orders based on Vignola rather than Palladio. As with fine wines, the differences between Palladioís and Vignolaís orders are subtle. Palladioís orders have a distinct elegance while Vignolaís are more full-bodied _. Unlike Palladio, however, Vignola did not illustrate ancient buildings in his treatise; hence _The Four Books remained a principal source for building design.

Figure 5
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 6
Figure 9
Figure 9
Figure 7
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 8

The Four Books and America | James Gibbs and Palladio | The Portico

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