Project XVI (fols. 15v-16r)

This final variant of Grand Ferrara is of little interest and is the result of the addition of the two original wings to a more complex corps-de-logis which itself has two small projecting wings. Such a corps-de-logis has a clear example, particularly with respect to the elevation, in the front part of Project XII with its reminiscence of Peruzzi's Farnesina. Of interest however is the remark in the text concerning the small areas with a mesh of copper wire above them so as to make them into bird coops. Of graphic interest is the way in which Serlio illustrates how on the wings he makes maximum use of the space by means of mezzanines. Serlio himself forgot to mark on the design the letters mentioned in the commentary to indicate the rooms.

Projects XVII-XVIII (fols. 16v-18ar)

The château of Ancy-le-Franc, built for Antoine III de Clermont, cousin of Diane de Poitiers, bears above the rear doorway the date 1546, hence it is exactly contemporary with Grand Ferrara. It was traditionally attributed either to Serlio or Primaticcio, and the doubt was only definitively removed by the discovery of Book VI and its unequivocal designs and text attributing the château to Serlio. That the first lines of the text so clearly match the description of Project XIV, would seem to justify the theory that Serlio, in setting out the sequence in the Munich MS, swapped this Project XVII (and the following 'variant' XVIII) with XV and XVI. At any rate, his characterisation of the château as a villa forte arranged to cope with battaglia di mano (hand-to-hand fighting) is entirely spurious - sufficiently proved by the fact that in the two rear towers (S.E. and S.W. - the château has the principal façade facing North) there are

respectively: a saletta on the ground floor and the library on the first floor; and a ground floor kitchen and a first floor chapel.

Even though the château still exists, the problem of the relationship between the designs in the two MSS and the building as constructed is just as complex as that for Grand Ferrara. In effect, both the Columbia and Munich MSS refer, in different ways, to a building which is still under construction. And the final aspect of this building ought to be the one shown in Du Cerceau's woodcuts in Bastiments. Consequently, we should ignore the subsequent modifications present in Du Cerceau's 1576 edition, notably the doubling of the windows on the external façades, the addition of a porch supporting a terrace at the main entrance, the removal of the lanterns above the towers, and finally the presence of a cornice with dentils and modillions below the internal facing roof slopes of the towers (cf. Du Colombier-D'Espezel, Le sixième livre…). Within the sequence of the two MSS and Du Cerceau's woodcuts, Schreiber (Die franzözische Renaissance…, Berlin 1938) has inserted the woodcuts of Book VII on the mysterious château 'Rosmarino', a château which clearly presents notable similarities with the designs of Ancy-le-Franc in the Columbia MS (internal façades) and also with the final built version (external façades) - even the plan of Rosmarino is closely related to that of the château in Burgundy. I am not sure however whether the sequence proposed by Schreiber (initial projects for Ancy (Columbia and Munich MSS) - 'Rosmarino' project Book VII - built version of Ancy as shown in Du Cerceau woodcuts) can be accepted. Might we not believe Serlio when he tells us that he designed 'Rosmarino' after coming to Lyons (1549-50, the final possible date for the designs in Book VII)? In this case, it would appear that he fused the initial and final designs for Ancy, a process not uncommon for Serlio.

[Figure 159 - Photographs of external and internal façades of Ancy]

In both cases, this is excellent proof of the opinion, held by Du Colombier-D'Espezel, Schreiber and Dinsmoor, that the significant modifications which took place between the designs in the two MSS and the final built version of Ancy-le-Franc were nevertheless entirely the work of Serlio, even if in the end he was following precise instructions from his patron, Antoine de Clermont (whom Serlio mentions and highly praises for his architectural ability). It has not yet been established whether the different designs in the Columbia and Munich MSS represent two 'variants' of a project simply presented to Antoine de Clermont and never built, or (as held by Dinsmoor) that the château underwent during construction three sets of modifications, particularly in the wall surfacings and in the decorative Orders. I think that the first theory is more acceptable given Serlio's comment in the Munich MS concerning modifications occurring at the patron's request, subsequent to [his] drawing the design. These modifications (paired Order on the façades, elimination of the small windows above the final cornice) correspond exactly to the building as constructed. Such specific remarks in the text could also be seen to justify the oddity on the part of the architect of publishing designs of something never built in place of the plans for the final building as constructed. Perhaps he considered the final construction less 'didactic' than the initial drawings.

Apart from the notable variations in the ornamentation, analysed in minute detail by Du Colombier-D'Espezel and particularly Dinsmoor, the basic scheme remained unchanged, both in its planimetry and in the general disposition, in other words, in the basic characteristics which make Ancy-le-Franc another excellent example of the balanced union of French and Italian architecture under the sign of the Renaissance, although without the wealth of innovative and forward-looking solutions which characterised Grand Ferrara.

[Figure 160 - Serlio, Project for Ancy-le-Franc in the Columbia MS (from Dinsmoor)]

As Schreiber has so excellently demonstrated, the source for Ancy-le-Franc is to be found in Poggio Reale, with the precise articulation of the relationship between the corner towers and the loggiamenti between them, perfectly symmetrical in their external elevations but hierarchically conceived and matched on the internal elevations and in the planimetry. Only the designs in the Columbia MS hint at a dialectical relationship (later abandoned) in the treatment of the external façade of the first storey, where the towers have rustic blocks on the flanks and simple framed rectangular windows, as opposed to the loggiamenti where the windows, alternating with arched niches, have oculi above them and are flanked by pilasters. The Italian character of the external elevation is clear, especially in the shallow pitched roofs in the initial projects which were to be replaced by the French steeply pitched roofs in the later built one. And even this last variation should be credited to Serlio, as is proved both by the elegant lines of the 'dormers' and the presence of the lanterns on the tops of the towers in the woodcuts for 'Rosmarino' in Book VII.

The treatment of the Orders in the initial projects is clearly Bramantesque. And for the solution proposed in the Columbia MS (without doubt the most beautiful of the three), I would advance the hypothesis that Serlio referred to designs by Bramante (unknown to us) for Palazzo di S. Biagio in Rome. In this respect, the final building, despite its limpid eurhythmy, resembles late-15th century work, along the lines of the Cancelleria in Rome. Perhaps the explanation of this character is to be found in Lescot's parallel experience with the Louvre. And whilst Serlio alludes to the patron's direct request for the arrangement of the Orders, in the same text he also boasts that he was able to persuade Clermont to abandon the idea of the crowded row of small windows above the cornice - this would indeed have resulted in a gabbia di grilli ('a grasshopper cage'), to use Michelangelo's expression. It is noteworthy that a similar motif appears (and is still to be seen) above the cornice of the 'Salle de Bal' in Fontainebleau. For obvious constructional reasons, this feature must be attributed to De l'Orme when giving the final touches to the work (1548-50).

Beneath this Italian shell there is a vibrant and articulate dialectical relationship between the towers and the loggiamenti, around the fulcrum of the central courtyard. Schreiber has pointed out the clear formal and conceptual difference between here and the central Italian porticoed internal courtyard culminating in the 16th century in Palazzo Farnese. The total, uniform symmetry of such a model, with its uninterrupted series of supports and arches punctuated only by necessary corner reinforcements, was destined to clash with the French tradition of differentiated internal façades, the logical expression of the hierarchical relationship of the different loggiamenti and the pre-eminence of the principal corps-de-logis. Once again, Serlio's pratica here at Ancy-le-Franc resolves these two opposing conceptions, preserving

in essence the French hierarchical tradition but bringing from the Italian one the two-dimensional continuity represented by the facing of the Orders; two-dimensional in the sense of the plastic/chiaroscuric depth of the porticoes (developed especially at the two sides of the entrance and at the back of the courtyard) alternated with the different rhythm of the blind profiles of the Orders upon a solid wall.

[Figure 161 - G. Le Breton, P. De l'Orme, Salle de Bal in Fontainebleau, side facing the 'Cour Ovale' (from Du Cerceau)

Figure 162 - G. Le Breton, P. De l'Orme, Salle de Bal in Fontainebleau, side facing the outside (from Du Cerceau)]

Beneath this purely surface layer of rhythmic continuity of ornamentation lies the concrete distinction between the four internal faces of the sides made visible through the background presence, in the corners of the courtyard, of the four wall nuclei containing the staircases. These are detached planimetrically from the aligned sequence of the rooms and almost repeat ('in minore') as regards the internal surfaces, the function of serrefile (serrafile) with respect to the towers. On the plan, there is the marked hierarchical distinction between the front loggiamento (the only one with a real military/defensive character) and the rear loggiamento (the patron's dwelling) with respect to the side loggiamento, equably divided up between the large sale/gallerie with a solid wall on the right-hand side and the service and guest rooms on the left, in which Serlio opens up a beautiful, three-bayed, cross-vaulted loggia on the ground floor, perhaps in reminiscence of Villa Madama. To this fundamental scheme, Serlio applies successive variations, revealing his agility at combining, not the different Orders, but the different 'inventions', that is, the rhythmic nuclei of pillar/column, arch/beam. In the Columbia MS we have the combination of load-bearing Rustic pillars and Ionic pilastrades built up against the pillars - the resemblance of this (including the attic with its windows) to Palazzo Thiene in Vicenza is literally staggering; even more so if we consider Palladio's figure in the Quattro Libri. This has already been remarked by Pée but citing the other two projects in which Serlio uses this motif, Project XVII in the City and 'Rosmarino' in Book VII (Pée, H., op. cit., pp. 82-4). What should also be remembered at this point is the noteworthy bringing forward of the date, to 1542, of the commencement of the work on the palazzo in Vicenza proposed by Cevese, based on documentary evidence, and confirmed by Forssman with intelligent remarks on Mannerist culture, both as regards Giulio Romano and Palladio.

[F/notes: Cevese, R., I Palazzi dei Thiene, Vicenza, 1952, pp.42 ff;
Forssman, E., Palladios…, p. 34 ff. The new dating is rejected by Zorzi and in the main by Pane, but the latter however concedes the link between initial ideas for Palazzo Thiene with two RIBA designs by Palladio datable to around 1542 and which are very close to forms by Giulio Romano - these designs refer however to the front and not to the courtyard.]

Taking account of this new dating and the high quality of the 'invention', it is possible to advance the hypothesis that Serlio knew Palladio's designs and ideas before going to France in 1541.

In the Munich MS the solution is plainer and more classical, with a uniform repetition of the pilaster mounted up against the pillar, very Sangallesque, but refined and stylish with pre-16th century touches along the lines of the Palazzo Venezia. Of note, as mentioned by Dinsmoor, is the strangeness of the sections of the towers and sides which would imply, if accepted without discussion, the lack of an attic and roof in these parts, and the substitution of a flat terrace-like covering. Such a solution could be justified by the desire to underline to the maximum the hierarchy of the loggiamenti in the building, but it appears too radical and contrasts with the distributive efficiency of the towers.

[Figure 163 - Palazzo Thiene in Vicenza from the Quattro Libri dell'Architettura, II, 13]

It is perhaps better, along with Dinsmoor, to consider these sections as a graphic liberty which Serlio allows himself - indeed in Serlio's MS these views are presented as a succession (both horizontal and vertical) of technico-didactic examples of internal distribution.

The final built version as it appears in Du Cerceau's woodcuts clearly bears the precise imprint of Clermont's desire to 'Italianise' and regularise the building as much as possible, both in the ornamentation of the surfaces and in the plan. The adoption for the ground floor courtyard of the Bramantesque 'rhythmic beaming' of the Belvedere, the elimination on the first floor of the loggias, and the corner solution with niches on the diagonal, go to soften as far as is possible the dialectical relationship between the voids of the porticoes and the solid walls. Whilst using obviously Roman forms, Serlio attains a chromatic richness which is entirely northern as a result of the use of 'white cut stone', a fact underlined by him in his commentary. Again in the plan, if we believe Du Cerceau's woodcut,

[F/note: Du Cerceau, someone particularly rich in inventiveness in his own built work and projects, could not always resist the temptation to vary or enrich the buildings of others which he illustrated in his Bastiments. In the specific case of the plan of Ancy-le-Franc he represents the four staircases in the corners of the courtyard as rectangular with flights, whilst Du Colombier-D'Espezel (Le sixième livre…) have correctly noted that to the present day the château has spiral staircases, two round and two oval (one of which has been rebuilt, and thus could originally have been circular), thus corresponding not to the plan in Du Cerceau's woodcut but rather to the plans drawn by Serlio in the Munich MS where three circular spiral staircases and an oval one are specified.]

the symmetry between the North and South - front and back loggiamenti - becomes total, even in the distribution of the openings, whilst regularising the hierarchical subordination of the side wings which are represented by Serlio in the form of the solid wall on the right and the loggia on the left (itself however squared up, with the large niches at the sides of that loggia removed in Du Cerceau).

In the Orders of the courtyard, the mechanical combination of the 'inventions' is particularly clear - notably the Bramantesque 'rhythmic beaming' taken from Book III but omitting the voussoir at the top of the arch and the uniform lines of the entablature, coupled with a first storey composed of a model of a Corinthian façade from Book IV.

In the spirit of this absolute symmetry is born the 'variant' Project XVIII, very similar to Project XIV apart from the fact that the corner towers in XIV are enclosed and masked by the curtain wall, whilst here they preserve their value as cardinal for the entire structure, as at Ancy-le-Franc. The model, with its entirely porticoed courtyard in the Italian fashion, is the closest of all the projects to Poggio Reale and corresponds almost exactly to a sketch from Peruzzi's sketchbook on fol.34r, with the terrace above the internal portico. Serlio does not give a graphic representation of the section down the centre of the building, but presents in the text two solutions for the first storey, either a loggia or an uncovered terrace above the portico, with a preference for the former, clearly the more classical and orthodox.



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