Project XIX (fols. 18av-19r)

The villa-fortress project for the 'illustrious Prince' (which ought logically to follow the villas XV and XVI, they too being for an 'illustrious Prince') is one of the richest for its cultural implications. Even though the plan is hexagonal, it is clearly derived from the designs by Antonio da Sangallo 'the Younger' and Peruzzi for the Rocca (fort) Farnesiana at Caprarola. And this correspondence is even closer with the pentagonal villa-fortress for the Prince/Tyrant at Project XXVIII below. These designs were mentioned by Blunt in reference to the already cited description in Gargantua by Rabelais (1534) of the Abbey of Teleme (Blunt, A., Philibert De L'Orme, pp. 8-13). This abbey was imagined as a perfectly

symmetrical, hexagonal château. This fantastical invention by Rabelais, nurtured by visions of classical (the Roman port of Ostia) and Italian culture and with its circular corner towers of Medieval inspiration, was backward looking, whilst Serlio, in eliminating the corner towers, directly links himself with the projects for Caprarola.

[Figure 164 - Serlio. Ancy-le-Franc (from Du Cerceau)]

The date of the first projects for Caprarola, first discussed by Giovannoni (and in the recent monograph on Vignola by Walcher-Casotti), has been fixed very broadly to between the second and third decades of the 16th century. Giovannoni (Sangallo…, vol.1, pp. 268-9) indicates 1520-25, referring to the period of Sangallo and Peruzzi's collaboration. Walcher-Casotti distinguishes between the design (Uffizi A 775) by Antonio da Sangallo (with alternative variants on the same scheme between a circular and pentagonal plan) which would date back to the first commission c. 1515, and another group of designs by Peruzzi (Uffizi A. 500, and 506), and hence in focussing on these two architects for the most part accepts Giovannoni's dating.

[Figure 165 - Serlio, Book IV, Corinthian Façade]

[F/note: Walcher-Casotti, M., op. cit., pp. 71-7, 156-9. As for the elliptical concave-convex flight of steps at the entrance to Caprarola, which Lotz (Vignola Studien, Würzburg, 1939) considers to post-date Vignola because of its clearly Baroque character, and which Walcher-Casotti correctly attributes to Vignola, it is obviously justifiable and identifiable as one of the many Serlian elements present in Vignola's work. It would appear that Vignola is responsible for the transition from Bramante's and Serlio's circular stairs towards the use of eliptical ones.]

The influence on Serlio is however

proof that the last possible date for these designs, particularly those by Peruzzi, is 1527, because without doubt similar designs must already have been part of Serlio's 'Roman' drawing collection.

[Figure 166 - B. Peruzzi?, Sketch book fol.34v, Siena, Biblioteca Communale (part)

Figure 167 - Graphic interpretation of the Abbey of Teleme (from Blunt)]

Leaving a more detailed comparison of the Sangallo-Peruzzi designs until Project XXVII, it is sufficient here to note that there are no angular bastions as planned by Sangallo/Peruzzi for Caprarola and preserved by Vignola almost as if in memory of the initial purely military design. This omission can be explained by the fact that this first hexagonal villa-fortress is to be surrounded by a larger, similarly hexagonal structure, containing - as Serlio tells us - the 'loggiamenti for the larger household' and clearly also the defences. Unfortunately, Serlio limits himself to a very small, rough sketch of the whole plan (centre left) only dealing in detail in the commentary with the internal building for the lord of the château - there is not even an elevation of these servants' quarters/defences. All Serlio prescribes is that the entrance (and hence the internal courtyard) should be raised the usual 5 feet above the ground level between the outer building and the inner master's building. Logic - and comparison with the servants' buildings of the preceding projects - would suggest that the external building should have a single storey corresponding to the two mezzanined (plus attic) storeys of the internal building. At this point, considering the probable general scheme comprising a low external surrounding building and a taller internal one, concentric and symmetrical, it would not be out of place to compare this project to designs for fortresses with concentric external buildings by Leonardo (e.g., Cod. Atl. fol.43v a, 48r a, b). Although the latter two are circular in plan, nevertheless two fundamental principles - the unification of curtain walls with loggiamenti and the progression in height in the bands of buildings from the outside to the inside because of the firing lines of artillery batteries - appear to be common to both Leonardo and Serlio with no other examples appearing in the intervening period.

In the main building, in the side opposite the entrance, there is a sala with four columns just as in Project XII, but larger and more crucial for the general economy of the plan. Given the substantial Sangallesque character of the building, this 'invention' of the tetrastyle sala (so beloved of Palladio) might also be traced to Sangallo. Even with the radical modification of the square to a rectangle (and the consequent increase in the number of columns and their positioning no longer symmetrical but deeply set back), it is impossible not to think of the motif of the atrium with free-standing columns which clearly comes from post-Raphael Rome, as is testified (almost contemporaneously) by Giulio Romano's Palazzo del Te and Sangallo's Palazzo Farnese. Indeed, Sangallo himself had come up with a similar solution in c. 1515, in the above-cited design for a Palazzo Medici in Rome for Leo X.



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