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Ligorio, Pirro

Ligorio, Pirro (c.1513–1583). Italian architect, archaeologist, librarian, and painter, he settled in Rome in 1534 after which he explored and recorded antiquities and remains, and began to collect material for his huge encylopedias of Classical artefacts. He brought out a volume on Roman antiquities in 1553, the only publication in his lifetime disseminating his vast knowledge. In this respect, his work is an invaluable source of information on what Antique remains were known at the time. In 1549 he was appointed archaeologist to Cardinal Ippolito d'Este (1509–72), and for him carried out major works at the old Franciscan monastery, Tivoli, creating the Villa d'Este and its gardens (1550–72), greatly influenced by the nearby Villa Adriana which Ligorio had recorded. The fountains, cascades, and waterworks at the Villa d'Este contributed to the making of one of the finest C16 European gardens. In 1558 he began work on a summer-house for Pope Paul IV (1555–9) in the Vatican Gardens: work on this resumed in 1560 after the election of Pope Pius IV (1559–65), and by 1562 the exquisite Casino di Pio IV, one of the most affecting creations of Mannerism, was complete. Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97), the Swiss art-historian, called it the most beautiful ‘afternoon retreat’ ever created. It drew on the type of the Antique diaeta, or auxiliary building used for the otium (rest or leisure time). At the same time Ligorio began work on Bramante's Belvedere Court at the Vatican, with the addition of curved seating at the lower terrace's south side, making changes to the exedra to the north so that it formed an enormous niche. He also designed the astylar rusticated Lancellotti Palace (c.1560), restored the Pantheon (1561), and built the Cenci Palace (c.1564), all in Rome. He succeeded Michelangelo as Architect of San Pietro in 1564, but in the following year was accused of fraud and theft, thus ending his Papal career. Once more he turned his attention to the gardens at Tivoli, supervising the works and designing several fountains. In 1569 he moved to Ferrara, where he was placed in charge of the important collection of antiquities belonging to the Duke.


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