Project XXVI (fols. 25v-27r)

True to the rigid organisation of the book, after the villas for pleasure comes the fortress for the 'exceedingly illustrious Prince', conceived as a square castle with slightly projecting corner towers, which are also square and which are connected to external porticoes covered with terraces (basically the usual Poggio Reale type) - there is here a central circular porticoed courtyard. Even though, as with Ancy-le-Franc, the military character of the building seems a pretence and is only used as a justification for the adoption of the castle building 'type', the absurdity in this respect of the external porticoes is slightly obviated by Serlio's explanations in the text and the small sketch at the foot of fol.26r. Here we are shown that the building is surrounded by a moat at the foot of its walls and by a 'walled garden' 200 feet wide on every side of the house. Serlio says that

with this garden, the house will be protected from possible artillery shots since the walls will keep the enemy far away and make it impossible for them to perfect the trajectory of the shots. In this, and even more so in the succession of projects for the 'Tyrant Prince', it is clear that Serlio's knowledge of new Italian military architecture is up-to-date, nor is this surprising for a contemporary of the Sangallos, Sanmicheli and Francesco Maria della Rovere.

[Figure 171 - Leonardo, Cod. atl. 315r b (part: from Pedretti)

Figure 172 - Di Giorgio, Codice magliabechiano, fol.20v, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale

Figure 173 - P. Machuca, Palace of Charles V in Granada]

The motif of the square building with a circular courtyard is particularly interesting and could be related to the small rough sketch drawn by Leonardo on a page of the Codice atlantico, 315r b. On the basis of this, Pedretti has advanced the hypothesis of a project for a Palazzo Medici in Florence, directly in front of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, datable to around 1515 (Pedretti, C., op. cit., pp. 112-8; cf. chapter II, note 23). Even if Leonardo's sketch seems to envision polygonal (or circular?) corner towers and certainly foresees an octagonal courtyard, nevertheless the analogy remains noteworthy, above all for the insertion of circular spaces at the meeting of the square building and the polygonal (circular for Serlio) courtyard. For Leonardo, Pedretti interprets these as places for spiral staircases, whilst Serlio indicates them as small, uncovered courtyards, true cavaedia, suitable for providing light to the internal sides of the perimeter rooms. Analogous planimetric schemes appear also in Di Giorgio's Codice magliabechiano. Much closer and much more difficult to explain is the relationship between Serlio's project and the palace for Charles V in Granada, the famous and unusual monument of the early Spanish Renaissance, built by the 'Italianising' Pedro Machuca (a Mannerist painter of uncertain date but alive somewhere between the third and fifth decade of the 16th century). Blunt describes the palace in detail in the Enciclopedia Universale dell'Arte noting the extreme eclecticism of the work, particularly in the ornamentation which included some Serlian elements.

[F/note: Blunt, A., 'Spagna -a) Architecttura' under the heading 'Rinascimento', Enciclopedia Universale dell'Arte, vol. 11, Venice-Rome, 1963, columns 511-12. Cf. also Kubler, G., M. Soria, Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions 1500 to 1800, Harmondsworth-Baltimore-Mitcham, 1959, pp. 10-11. They indicate the following chronology for the building: foundation 1527; South door and wooden model of the palace 1537-38; West door 1551-63 (Machuca died in 1550); annular vault of circular portico finished 1612; end of construction work 1633. It is interesting to note that the circular courtyard is raised 5 feet, as Serlio constantly prescribes.]

From a technical point of view, of interest are the instructions which Serlio gives for the construction of the internal portico (for which he offers us two different elevations, one of the portico and one of its underside). He describes in detail the phases of construction (first the supporting wall, then the supports, then, once the structure is secure, the addition of the barrel-vaulted covering with lunettes upon which lies the terrace) and he also refers to the centripetal force originating from the circular structure.



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