Projects VIII, IX (fols. 4v-6r)

These projects, since they are effectively the result of modular development of the preceding ones, are of fundamental importance in the logical and historical chain that leads Serlio to his project for Grand Ferrara, starting from the Venetian villa with it unified architectural complex comprising a main house with outbuildings. Repeating the schema of Project III (the largest and most complex purely agricultural building), Serlio in Project VIII unites the main house for the 'richer merchant or citizen' with two large forward-projecting wings of outbuildings, of which one, as in a farm, is drawn as a portico/open barn - that is the Venetian barchessa in its entirety - and the other is drawn as dwellings for farm hands, with interconnected rooms. The two wings terminating on the same axis as the façade of the main house are detached from that house, but scenographically connected to it by the two large gateways which give access to the gardens and the fields. The whole is closed off in between the fronts of the wings by a wall and gateway. The result is thus more unified and at the same time more hierarchical with respect to the large farm of Project III.

Whilst this project is indeed very like Sansovino's Pontecasale, the main house is reminiscent of the Serlio/Palladio connection which I discussed in chapter II with reference to the villas in Book VII. It is not therefore by accident that the characteristic convex, concave flight of steps appears here for the first time, a feature very common in Book VII. Much more so than in any of the other villas in Book VII, the plan of that here is very close to the early small Palladio villas such as Cerato a Montecchio Precalcino and the no longer extant Angarano presso Bassano del Grappa.

[Figure 148 - Plan of Cerato a Montecchio Precalcino (from Pane)]

The elevation and the distributive characteristics echo the hybrid nature of the base model, Project VI. The rejection of an arcaded portico in favour of an architraved order and the insertion of Rustic blocks on the corners of the first floor underline the Roman rather than Venetian character of the façade following Raffaello and Peruzzi. On the other hand, greater emphasis is placed on the semi-underground service rooms (a feature particularly dear to Palladio) with their double benefit of greater practical/functional value and greater aesthetic/scenographic value with the whole building raised up and thus 'visible from afar'. The breadth of Serlio's ideas is demonstrated by the height of 10 feet for the semi-underground level, only two feet less than the first floor.

In the distribution of the rooms on the first floor, Serlio underlines (even on a linguistic level) the French tone of the nucleus already designed for Project VI. Here for the first time appears the term 'galerie' used for the room directly above the portico. Dictionaries, etymological and otherwise, are not agreed on this word, and the evidence of Serlio's use of the term (in addition to his informing us as to which architectural feature actually corresponds to this word) could be decisive. The initial meaning of the word goes back to maritime use where it indicates the external corridor/balcony of the forecastle on the prow of a galley. As to its architectural use, it meant a room on the ground-, or more likely first-, floor, greater in length than in width, with a long side towards the outside or over an internal courtyard. Tommaseo cites (in addition to Serlio himself, Book VII) Cellini's Lives, and Prati refers to Sanudo's dalla Francia (1528). Battisti-Alessio declare the word to be of French origin following Godefroy who attests the use of the word in France in the 1300's. In contradiction, Bloch-Wartburg maintain that 'galerie' is of Italian derivation. It is noteworthy that all the early Italian citations are from people connected in one way or another to France. Serlio, usually precise in giving the national origin of the terms he uses, states unequivocally its French origin, and this corresponds to the fact that in the 16th century the word 'galleria', in its second meaning of room for festivities and for exhibiting works of art, was used thus as much in France as in Italy. It is not incidental that one of the grandest rooms in Grand Ferrara was precisely the galleria, taking up as it did an entire sala.

As VIII is based on VI, so the French Project IX is based on VII, with the emphasis on the side to side distribution as opposed to the Italian front to back arrangement. Matching this, the outbuildings appear narrower and longer with respect to VIII, anticipating Grand Ferrara. The elevation - even with the disappearance of the scalar turrets - is yet closer to the 'Grand Jardin' at Joinville. Large chimney pots, for which Serlio has a marked preference, appear here - these find their culmination in the strange projects in Book VII, themselves eloquent exemplars for the most outrageous Flemish Mannerism. In this respect, Serlio found himself perfectly at home in France, where the enormous chimneys were amongst some of the richest ornamentation on the châteaux dating from the late Gothic and early Renaissance (Chambord, for example). But this interest in chimneys was most probably a result of his stay in Venice, despite his criticisms in Book VII of Venetian chimneys for their excessive height which gave him great concern because of the winds. However, he does not follow the Venetian practice of placing the hearths and flues in the perimeter walls, but rather sets them in the internal, transverse walls, thus also inserting the chimneys in the general symmetry.



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