Barbaro, Daniele
Palladio, Andrea (illustrator)

Title I dieci libri dell’architettura di M. Vitruvio...
Imprint Venice, F. De Franceschi & J. Criegher, 1567
Localisation Einsiedeln, Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Œchslin, A 04b app. 860
Subject Architecture
Transcribed version of the text


     In 1567 the Venetian printing press of Francesco De Franceschi published both a revised Italian edition of Barbaro’s 1556 Vitruvius, and for the first time Barbaro’s Latin edition with commentary.  While it is not known precisely when Francesco was born, we know that he set up and operated a press for printing works in the vernacular in Venice from 1562 to 1599.  De Francechi’s printing press manifested a remarkable commitment to architectural and mathematical learning.  It was this press which published Giuseppe Zarlino's Istitutioni harmoniche of 1562 and the Dimostrationi harmoniche of 1571, Silvio Belli's treatise on proportions of 1573, Cosimo Bartoli's new edition of 1565 of the translation of Alberti's De re ædificatoria and Serlio's editions of 1566 and 1569.  In addition, Palladio's first edition of the Quattro libri dell'architettura of 1570 was printed by Domenico De Franceschi, a close relative of Francesco, who operated an independent press in Venice from 1566 to 1585.
The text used for the Italian and Latin editions of 1567 of Vitruvius was a version reset and reduced from folio to quarto of the Italian translation of 1556, which was, by that time, out of copyright.  A new copyright was granted by the Senate on 6 May 1567 for twenty years.  According to De Franceschi, changes and emendations were made both in the commentary and in the illustrations.  The text of the Italian edition of 1567 is, however, substantially the same as that the Marcolini edition, although the somewhat elliptical style of the original is paraphrased giving the text additional clarity. It is not possible to say for how long Barbaro and Palladio were engaged on the work of revising the text and illustration of the preceding edition and preparing new illustrations.  It must have been in connection with this task of verifying previous observations that Daniele Barbaro undertook a new journey to Rome from January to May 1566.
The Italian edition of 1567 has 121 woodblocks.  The majority of these are reduced copies of the illustrations of 1556, but there are omissions, combinations of several subjects from the 1556 edition on one block, and also additions.  The large woodcut initials at the beginning of each book are from a mythological alphabet of Gabrielle Giolitto. The reduced copies of the 1556 woodblocks are the work of a certain Giovanni Chrieger (Johan Krüger).  Of German origin and presumably training, this master seems to have first appeared in Venice in the mid 1560s, in association with Francesco De Franceschi.  The earliest known Venetian work with his own woodcuts is Serlio's edition of 1566, which is dedicated to Daniele Barbaro and printed by De Franceschi.  It may be suggested that this woodcut technician might have been capable of most of the conversion from a folio to a quarto format himself, so that Palladio might not have needed to redraw each plate.
Palladio was commissioned, however, to prepare a new set of drawings for these new, up-to-date editions of 1567.  The Italian quarto edition (1567) includes new reconstructions after Vitruvius, which do not appear in the Marcolini edition, such as the tetrastyle, Tuscan, "displuviate" and "testidudinate atria", reconstructed in plan and cross-section, as well as the Roman bath as described by Vitruvius, the Greek palestra and the Roman forum.  The execution of these new illustrations as well as that of the revised plates which introduce shading is very similar to the illustrations of books II-IV of the Quattro libri, published only three years later.

Louis Cellauro (LARHRA, Lyon) – 2010


Critical bibliography

P. Caye, L. Moretti, F. Lemerle, V. Zara (ed.), Daniele Barbaro 1514-1570. Vénitien, patricien, humaniste, Turnhout, Brepols, 2017.

L. Cellauro, Daniele Barbaro and His Venetian Editions of Vitruvius of 1556 and 1567, PhD dissertation, Courtauld Institute of Art, London University, 1996.

L. Cellauro, "Palladio e le illustrazioni delle edizioni del 1556 e del 1567 di Vitruvio", Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte, 22, 1998, pp. 55-128.

L. Cellauro, "Daniele Barbaro and his Venetian editions of Vitruvius of 1556 and 1567", Studi Veneziani, N.S. 40, 2000, pp. 87-134.

F. Lemerle, « Vitruvius Pollio, I dieci libri dell’architettura [con traduzione e commento di Daniele Barbaro] In Venetia, appresso Francesco de’ Franceschi senese, & Giovanni Chrieger Alemano Compagni, 1567 », S. Marcon (a cura di), Daniele Barbaro 1514-70 Letteratura, scienza e arti nella Venezia del Rinascimento, Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana 10 dicembre 2015-31 gennaio 2016, Venezia, antigaedizioni, 2015, pp. 144-145.