Project XIX (fols. 59v-61r)

There is obviously no parallel project in the countryside for this project for the Praetor or podestà since it is closely linked to the social structure of the city. The project is both imposing and of high quality. And indeed its position at the beginning of the final colossal projects makes it a symbol not only of wealth and private authority but also of public power and authority. Here Serlio has clearly understood how far, both economically and politically speaking, the merchant and political middle class (bourgeoisie) in France had risen. Furthermore, Serlio as a northern Italian had had experience of such matters, first in his home town and subsequently in Venice, with their ‘broletti’ and ‘basiliche’, buildings clearly different both in form and social function from the ‘palazzi comunali’ of central Italy. It is not accidental that one of his last works was the project for a ‘merchants’ loggia’ in Lyons, a merchant city par excellence.

The building complex here results from the superimposition of a real Palazzo dei Tribunali upon an enormous rectangle of ‘shops’, ‘fondaci’, and offices. Indeed, despite references to the classical basilica with the raised dais of the ’tribunal’ and the termination in an enormous apse, the plan of the Palazzo dei Tribunali clearly derives from the basilicas of the Veneto. The ‘decorum’ is fundamentally Roman and Bramantesque, particularly in the very fine Orders on the front and rear façades. In fact the large rear central tower for the ‘Justice campanile’ is probably a reminiscence of (lost) projects for Palazzo di S. Biagio. However the ‘luminosity’ (i.e., presence of many openings) of these façades with their loggias and porticoes is clearly northern, Lombard and Venetian. There is a remarkable parallel in the Palazzo dei Giureconsulti in Milan, dated ten years later than Serlio’s project, which is explicable only if we imagine both buildings coming from the same tradition.

In the same way as in the countryside Project XXIV-XXV, but even more so, the scenographic concept and modelling of the access steps to the two Tribunal sale above and below is exceptional for the fifth decade of the 16th century. In fact it is rendered even more striking by the visual break caused by the returns of the flight of steps.

p.82

The relationship with the steps at Palazzo Thiene at Lonigo is yet closer, and perhaps it is this connection which can explain the close similarity of the project here with the large flight of steps erected at the end of the 16th century on the façade of the Palazzo Comunale in Zamosc in Poland by the Venetian Bernardo Morando da Padova.

[Figure 189 - Bernardo Morando, Palazzo Comunale, Zamosc (from the Bolletino Palladiano)]

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