Projects VI and VII (fols. 3v-4r)

The two projects, even in their (still constricted) measurements and in the elementary distribution of the rooms, are typical of Serlio's procedure. The two fašades are the product of a mechanical development and modest enrichment (from 'poor craftsman' to 'poor merchant or citizen') of the preceding fašades. In the Italian project, the pillars and arches of the portico of Project IV are ornamented with a 'decorous' Rustic. This Rustic almost attains the status of an Order in its own right on the outer arches, where it is no longer required by the presence of the portico and is applied to the solid walls of the small service rooms. In the French project, two parallel scalar turrets appear (one purely decorative) and the pediments of the dormers (uniformly triangular in Project V) present an alternating pattern of curved-triangular-curved, a recent development even in Italy and adopted for the first time in France by De l'Orme in his initial project for St Maur. As I have already noted in Chapter II, the result is very close to the 'Grand Jardin' villa in Joinville.

The two plans are however very different from those of the preceding projects. The mechanical character of the doubling of the fašades developed from the preceding ones but with innovative plans - in addition to the already mentioned extension of the Italian-style arches to the solid walls at the sides - is also underlined by the elegant (but artificial) solution of the 'bed alcove' in the slight projection of the purely decorative scalar turret on the French project. These two plans, simple though they may be, form the basis for subsequent developments.

The Italian project is a reduction to the bare minimum of small Venetian villas proposed by Serlio in Book VII and picked up by Palladio in his early years (see chapter II), notably: a front portico flanked by small rooms which project from the fašade; and a central atrium-corridor running from front to back (classically defined as a 'vestibule') which alone gives access to two large symmetrical and equilateral rooms. Some traces of French 'commodities' can be seen in the use of small rooms which project from the fašade acting as small service rooms (here they have mezzanines), and also in the staircases for the upper floors, the principal one with a single flight and the secondary one a spiral, thus freeing the service rooms and staircases from dependence on the principal planimetry. The same French traces can be seen in the use made on the first floor of the space corresponding to the portico and the forward service rooms for a 'saletta' parallel to the fašade (lit, as we can see from the elevation, by five windows). In the following Project VIII (evolved and derived from this) this is correctly called a 'galerie' and its French origin is thus confirmed.

Plan VII is perfectly French, despite the fact that Serlio tries to follow the Italian version closely, making the two side rooms identical to each other in width (18 feet), shrinking the central room (corresponding to the Venetian vestibolo) to 12 feet. The attributions of the rooms are also decidedly French: the atrium/corridor from side to side instead of from front to back corresponding to the Italian portico; the camera and the retrocamera (or guardaroba 'as it is called in these parts') as a service room. Also French are the clear routes from one room to the next - one of Serlio's most noteworthy qualities.

The atrium/corridor governs these routes and gives differentiated access: to the camera/retrocamera group; or to the service room; or to the spiral staircase, the only route to the upper floor. These are three separate autonomous nuclei with precise characteristics and functions. Not even Serlio's mania for eurythmy could drive him to equalise them. Even in its elementary simplicity, this planimetry already shows the contrast between the 'functional hierarchy', typical of France, and the rigid symmetry of the Italian model. And it is from such a scheme that Serlio, through gradual enrichment, derives the distributive characteristics of his French projects.

Linguistically speaking, the description of the word guardaroba as French is very interesting. Despite entering literary Italian at the end of the 1300's (Battisti-Alessio), two centuries later the word had clearly still kept its French feel.



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