Cataneo, Pietro

Title I quattro primi libri di architettura...
Imprint Venise, A. Manuce's sons, 1554
Localisation Paris, Bensba, 00269 Z 0600 in-4
Subject Churches, Domestic architecture, Military architecture, Urbanism
Transcribed version of the text


     Pietro Cataneo was born at the beginning of the 16th century in Siena, where he was a fellow student of the painter Domenico Beccafumi who married his sister. He was a certified military engineer starting in 1542 ; in particular the Republic of Siena gave him the responsibility of inspecting the fortifications of several strongholds in Tuscany (Porto Ercole, Orbetello, Talamone) and he played a considerable role in the conflict between Siena and the Emperor Charles V during the period from 1552 to 1555. Trained in mathematics, he published the Pratiche delle due prime mathematiche in Venice at the presses of Giovanni Griffio in 1559. His work in Orbetello led him to confront problems in city planning. We find these concerns in the first version of his treatise entitled I quattro primi libri di architettura, published in Venice in 1554. After a long general introduction on the practice of architecture, in fact the first book deals with military urban planning. In the tradition of another illustrious Sienese, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Cataneo studies the best locations likely to accomodate a fortified town and gives several plans ; in doing this he proposes one of the very first publications printed on the subject. The second book deals with materials ; the third is a collection of church plans, in which the longitudinal ones are reminiscent of Francesco di Giorgio’s ideas in their connection with the proportions of the human body. The churches with central plans are very close to the models of Serlio’s Quinto libro (1547). Lastly, the fourth book is devoted to private residences of the princes and the Italian nobility.
In 1567, the four modified books were expanded by four more.

Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2012

Critical bibliography

E. Bassi, "Nota introduttiva", Pietro Cataneo, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola. Trattati di architectura, V-2, Milan, Il Polifilo, 1985, pp. 165-178.

R. Binaghi, "Pietro Cataneo Architettore nostro diletto ad Orbetello...", G. Beltramini, A. Ghisetti Giavarina & P. Marini (ed.), Studi in onore di Renato Cevese, Vicenza, Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, 2000, pp. 41-59.

F. P. Fiore, "Trattati e teorie d’architettura del primo Cinquecento", A. Bruschi (ed.), Il primo Cinquecento, Milan, Electa, 2002, pp. 517-519.

G. Nido, Pietro Cataneo trattatista d’architettura del Cinquecento. Saggio introduttivo per una lettura critica della sua opera, Raccolta Pisana di saggi e studi, 29, Florence, Marchi & Bertolli, 1968.

A. Secondo-Tessari, "In modo crucis : simbolismo religioso nel trattato sull’architettura di Pietro Cataneo", Storia della Città, 43, 1988, pp. 69-84.