Palladio and Raphael: An Innovative Learning Experience

Two leading scholars of the architecture of Andrea Palladio, Guido Beltramini and Howard Burns of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza, will offer workshops exploring Raphael (1483-1520) and Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), two of the most influential architects of the Renaissance, and the relation between them. Though they had different backgrounds – Palladio trained as a stone carver, whereas Raphael was the son of the court painter in Urbino – they are similar in their view of history, their concern with architectural drawing and representation and commitment to the study and imitation of ancient Roman architecture. Raphael must have been a major source of inspiration for Palladio, who in Rome made a survey plan of his masterpiece, the villa Madama. He also adopted elements of Raphael’s architectural language. He would have noted Raphael’s skill in creating personalized palaces for high functionaries in Pope Leo X’s inner circle.

 The fall session Faking Palladio will introduce students to Palladio’s world, requiring them to produce a fake Palladio drawing. This requires in-depth knowledge of both the material character of the work to be imitated and also the cultural background of the architect imitated. Students will not be invited to produce an exact copy of an existing drawing but to invent a drawing that has never existed. This sort of exercise is made possible because Palladio developed an architecture that he conceived as a language, based on standard elements (such as rooms, stairs, doors, and columns) with proportions governing the relations between the various components. Palladio's treatise, The Four Books on Architecture (Venice, 1570), is essentially a manual with instructions referring to his architecture. Among Palladio’s drawings we find drawings for unbuilt buildings: many of them are plans without the corresponding elevations. To make a fake Palladio drawing, a good starting point is a Palladio original plan from which to imagine a possible development. The students will be asked first to design the elevation, or part of it, then to make a fake, focusing on the materiality of the drawing as an object (the paper, ink, stylus drawn lines, etc.) and on Palladio’s drawing conventions, which are close to those used today.

This spring session Anticipating Palladio will be dedicated to Raphael, always considered as one of the greatest painters. However, he was also a brilliant and innovative (and still little-known) architect, whose approach anticipates Palladio’s. The spring session will consist of lectures, workshops, and seminars on the buildings to be visited during the trip. Topics to be covered include Raphael’s architectural formation (in Urbino, Perugia, Florence and Rome), his writings and ideas, drawings, painted architecture, buildings and design methods, as well as his social world of friends, collaborators, patrons, and rivals, including Michelangelo. Students will explore the complex relation in Raphael between study of ancient Roman architecture and the design of modern buildings, and his revival of Roman constructional techniques and modes of interior decoration. Unbuilt, unfinished or destroyed works by him will be reconstructed in drawings and models. Raphael will also be approached as a “proto- film director”, creator of marvelous single-shot still “movies.” The seminar will offer an exceptional educational and architectural experience and will have a specific goal and outcome: generating ideas and prototypes for virtual and physical models for the exhibition IN THE MIND OF RAPHAEL, Raphael as Architect and inventor of architecture, to be held at the Palladio Centre in Vicenza (Oct. 2020 – Jan. 2021).

Enrollment in this course was pre-selected.