Project XII (fols. 8v-10r)
With the commencement of the villas for gentlemen, it is noticeable that Serlio keeps less to existing widespread building types and allows himself more inventive licence, not always successfully - indeed the result is often rather hybrid. This is the case with the present project, where planimetric schemes of mixed Italian and French origin are not so much fused as juxtaposed.
The matrix is probably to be found in the parallel 'city' project, numbered XV. That XV in the city was drawn prior to XII in the country is shown by Dinsmoor. In the Columbia MS the project corresponding to XII is marked M,12 (plates 7-8) and that to XV, P (plates 52-57). Given that the watermarks for P can be dated to 1541-3 and those for M12 to 1546-7, Project XV in the city is therefore earlier than Project XII in the country.
Project XV in the city, both in its design and as recorded in Serlio's commentary, is represented as a Venetian palazzo, and Serlio specifies the most typical feature, namely the portico, that is, in effect the central atrium/corridor going from front to back linking the front to the back - the front in this project being specifically a sala-style atrium, and the back being a loggia. Furthermore, the two
latter 'invenzioni' (particularly the front atrium) are very frequent in Venetian palazzi. Of particular Serlian authorship are the two small courtyards - in fact cavedii - with central wells, in the centre of the building, to the left and right of the portico.
And even though these courtyards, as we shall see, bring great complexity to the articulation of the elevation, in plan they are purely secondary, each occupying only 1/30 of the base area of the building.
Project XII for the countryside, which uses the same schema, gives far greater importance to the two much larger internal courtyards. Hence the central portico loses its Venetian character as an internal distributive fulcrum and becomes simply a covered walkway, interposed between the two open spaces formed by the courtyards and running between the two other equally open spaces of the front and back loggias. In general, the model has more of the central Italian rather than the Venetian about it, as the fašade shows, with its typical loggia on the ground floor and the slight setting back of the central part, reminiscent of Peruzzi's Farnesina.
Serlio's ability is once again to be seen in his distribution. The building is composed of two fundamental inhabitable blocks of parallel depth, joined at the front and back by loggias. These blocks are marked on the fašade by the slight projection of the two complete wings. The central portico is purely ornamental, as is underlined by the fact that the corresponding sala on the first floor is also isolated from the inhabited parts by the presence of the staircases at the ends. In each of the two blocks, Serlio establishes two apartments of three rooms with the relevant service rooms. The building is in fact explicitly designed for 'four noblemen', in other words for four inhabitable nuclei. It must be emphasised that, for reasons linked to the hierarchy of the system of staircases (two spiral service staircases to the front and two facing ramped staircases at the back) bringing with it different dimensions for the different staircases, Serlio is obliged to abandon any attempt at perfect symmetry for the four apartments and has to fall back on a criterion of economic equilibrium for the different areas. Thus the two apartments at the front have the use of two service camerini placed immediately behind the spiral staircases
[Figure 149 - P. Cataneo I quattro primi libri di architettura, fol.50v]
and along the side of the internal courtyards. For the back apartments, since the two large staircases occupy the corresponding area, Serlio allots only one camerino (immediately to the other side of the wall separating the front and back apartments). This area however equals the sum of the camerini at the front. The general form of this planimetry seems to be closely related to the project for the palazzo 'with two courtyards, for a Prince', illustrated in chapter V of Pietro Cataneo's Book IV, published in Venice in 1554.
[F/note: For an analogous project, see a sketch by Antonio da Sangallo 'the Younger' (Uffizi A 1259) for a Palazzo Medici in Rome for Leo X. Cf. Giovannoni, G., Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane, Rome 1959, vol. 1, pp. 278-82; vol. 2, figs. 237-9. For a built version of such a project, see the portico and loggia between the two courtyards of the Hospital de Afuera in Toledo; the portico begun in 1548 on a design by Alonson de Covarrubias. F. Chueca Goitia, in Arquitectura del siglo XVI (Ars Hispaniae vol. 11), Madrid 1953, pp. 170-75, notes the Serlian characteristics but refers only to the treatment of the Orders.]
Rather than posit the fact that Cataneo knew Serlio's drawing, it seems logical to imagine a common source in Peruzzi, or even Francesco di Giorgio, whose influence on Cataneo is clear. Cataneo's project has two, identical and symmetrical apartments going from front to back as opposed to Serlio's four smaller apartments.
The use of the word 'appartamento' on the part of both trattatisti is significant. Of Italian origin, Bloch-Wartburg cite the first French use, in Du Bellay 1559, as derived from the Italian. The first Italians to use the word apart from Serlio and Cataneo are Vasari and Bartoli (Alberti translation 1550-Battaglia). That the word had been coined relatively recently is shown by Vincenzo Borghini in Trattato della chiesa e dei Vescovi Fiorentini (come oggi li chiamano, appartamenti 'as they are called today, apartments' - Tommaseo-Bellini).
The clearly French building added at the rear of the main one, a sort of villa with portico and terrace above, certainly needs to be considered. This ensemble, despite making the project yet more hybrid, is for the middle of the 16th century quite new and original, even though it presumably comes from the ideas of Giulio Romano, themselves close to solutions such as the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua (for example the 'cavallerizza').
This formal repertoire is also decidedly innovative as regards Italy. The rhythm of the porticoes (with arches and paired, architraved columns - a motif already given in Book IV on the Doric Order) is to be sure a richly 'plastic' and 'luminous' development of the rhythmic arrangement of Bramante's upper courtyard in the Belvedere which has passed through the filter of the central part of the rear portico of the Palazzo del Te. But Giulio Romano's solution is much more powerful and has much more depth of projection, inasmuch as in-between the arches there are quadrate tetrastyle spaces, and also since the motif is concentrated into a sort of triumphal arch with three arches for the passage from the internal courtyard to the garden at the back. In Serlio, however, the motif is spread over the surface with a rhythm which, subsequently, became characteristic of Lombard architecture beginning with the Milanese archetype, the courtyard of Palazzo Marino by Alessi (1558), immediately repeated by Seregni for the front of the Palazzo dei Giureconsulti (1561), and frequently used by Pellegrini and by Richini.
Another very new 'invention' is the atrium with four free-standing columns, set in the centre between two apartments of the corps de logis. This is so much more striking, with all its Vitruvian associations, because of being placed within a clearly French ensemble. Here again Serlio seems to precede Palladio's making of the 'atrio' and the 'sala a quattro colonne' one of the hallmarks of his classical style, both theoretically and in practice.
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