Giulio Romano

views updated May 29 2018

Giulio Romano (c.1499–1546). Italian architect, he was one of the major figures of the late Renaissance. Called Giulio Pippi or Giuliano Giannuzzi, he was born in Rome, became the pupil of Raphael, and trained amidst the High Renaissance reverence for Classical antiquities. He completed Raphael's Villa Lante al Gianicolo, Rome (1523), and designed the Palazzo Maccarani, Piazza Sant'Eustachio, Rome (c.1520–4), where his originality was demonstrated in the ambiguous capital-less pilasters and the windows that rest uneasily on a string-course. His bending of the rules of Classical propriety led him to extremes, and he became one of the most interesting Mannerist architects, especially after he settled in Mantua (1524), where he worked for Prince (later Duke Federigo II) Gonzaga (1519–40).

His extraordinary Palazzo del Tè (1525–32), Mantua, one of the first Mannerist buildings, is a single-storey building around a courtyard. The vestibule of the main entrance mixes elements from the Basilica of Maxentius, Rome, and a plan taken from Giocondo's edition of Vitruvius (1511). In the courtyard finely finished ashlar is contrasted with deliberately ‘unfinished’ work, and on two elevations some of the triglyphs are designed to appear to ‘drop’ from the entablature, giving a feeling of instability, probably suggested to the architect by Roman ruins in which the frieze had broken up: such a ruin (the Basilica Aemilia in the Forum Romanum) had been drawn by Sangallo. The garden-front is composed of overlaid serlianas and the garden itself is enclosed, terminating in a semicircular pilastered colonnade. The plan is a clever mixture of an Antique villa and Raphael's Villa Madama (itself influenced by Roman thermae).

As a result of his success with the Palazzo del Tè, Giulio was ennobled and presented with a house in Mantua, on the façade of which (1538–44) he reworked the themes of the House of Raphael (Palazzo Caprini) by Bramante. His Cortile della Mostra (or Cavallerizza) in the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua (1538–9), employs tortured, engaged, irregular spiral columns on pedestals carried on chunky rusticated consoles, while the rusticated façades have arches that are not quite semicircles, nor are they segments of circles. It is a distortion of themes from Bramante's House of Raphael and the Colosseum, with allusions to the Solomonic columns in San Pietro, Rome. Such preoccupations with Antiquity and with the gravitas of the great Bramante suggest that, far from acting with a disregard for Classicism, as some have sug-gested, Giulio was scholarly and witty, drawing on many sources to give his buildings authority.

He prepared designs for the market-square in Vicenza from 1542: the Palazzo Thiene, Vicenza, with its overt quotations from Ancient Rome, may owe more to him than to Palladio, who completed it. He restored the Abbey of San Benedetto al Polirone, near Mantua (1540–6), and remodelled the Cathedral, Mantua (1544–6), with double aisles incorporating massive Corinthian columns. The Residenz (Seat of the Court), Landshut, Bavaria (begun 1536), was influenced by his architecture, but was not by him. He was also a famous painter: his frescoes in the Vatican (Stanza dell'Incendio di Borgo of 1514–17) and at Mantua helped to make him celebrated in his lifetime.


Ferrari & and Belluzzi (1992);
C.Fr et al. (1989);
Giulio Romano (1991);
Hartt (1958);
Heydenreich (1996);
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, xxx/4 (Dec. 1974), 267–93;
T. Kaufmann (1995);
Lotz (1977)
Pettena (ed.) (1981)
Verheyen (1977)

Giulio Romano

views updated May 18 2018

Giulio Romano (c.1492–1546) Italian painter and architect, b. Giulio Pippi. One of the founders of mannerism, he was the chief assistant to Raphael in his youth. His later work was considered pornographic, and he had to flee from Rome to Mantua where, in 1526, he began his famous Palazzo del Tè.