Vignola, Giacomo Barozzi da 1507–1573 Italian Architect and Theorist

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Vignola, Giacomo
Barozzi da
Italian architect and theorist

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola was one of the most inventive and influential architects of the Renaissance. Vignola's lasting contribution, however, comes from his two famous texts on architecture. One of them, The Five Orders of Architecture (1562), is a practical manual on the decoration of classical* columns. The other, Two Rules of Practical Perspective, remains the most authoritative summary of perspective* theory of the 1500s.

Born to a family of artists in a small village in central Italy, Vignola was trained as a painter in Bologna. He excelled in drawing and perspective and began to study architecture, probably with Baldassare Peruzzi. By 1538 Vignola was working in Rome as an assistant on the redesign of St. Peter's church. He also produced drawings of ancient Roman ruins and made bronze replicas of ancient statues for King Francis I of France, an activity that took him to France in 1541.

Returning to Bologna in 1543, Vignola was the architect of San Petronio church, and he redesigned the city's canal. In 1550 he went to Rome as architect to Pope Julius III, beginning two decades of almost continuous service to the papacy*. From 1565 until his death, Vignola directed work on St. Peter's. He also became architect for the House of Farnese, for which he designed and decorated a magnificent villa*.

Vignola was the leading architect in Rome after Michelangelo. His buildings and writings exerted considerable influence on architects in Rome and throughout Europe. Vignola developed a forceful and original style based on the Renaissance principles, featuring restrained decoration and a clear, uncluttered design. Among his most famous works are the Villa Giulia, built for Julius III, the Palazzo Farnese, and the church of Il Gesù in Rome.

(See alsoArchitecture. )

* classical

in the tradition of ancient Greece and Rome

* perspective

artistic technique for creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface

* papacy

office and authority of the pope

* villa

luxurious country home and the land surrounding it