Part 1 – Andrea Palladio: Still the Eternal Contemporary?

Part 1 – Andrea Palladio: Still the Eternal Contemporary?

Lecture Summary:

Palladio earned his living by drawing. He thought and created with drawing, and through drawing he communicated with patrons, builders and readers. Examining Palladian drawings means setting off on a journey of exploration. In some cases, Palladian drawings seem to be an x-ray of the architect’s mind, as he puts his thoughts to paper, combines ideas and considers alternatives. In other sheets the drawings are a means of communication, at times even of seduction, given that – unlike painters and sculptors – architects depend on other people to realise their projects. But the drawings also tell another story. Today we know that Palladio went through life in a very different way from the image promulgated in subsequent centuries of the unchallenged genius and artisan-like deity who, in Greek philosophy, fashions and arranges the physical world to make it conform to a rational and eternal idea. On the contrary, his difficult career was at times beset with failure and disappointments, and many projects remained ‘paper architecture’. Looking at Palladio through his drawings enables us also to tell the story of his setbacks and not only of the successes of his splendid buildings. In this sense, by gaining greater insight, we really can feel that we have come ‘closer to the master’.

Speaker: Guido Beltramini


Guido Beltramini is the Director of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, Italy. He is an internationally acknowledged expert in Renaissance architecture, especially the work of Andrea Palladio and his followers, and has published widely on these subjects. He is currently working on the first complete catalogue of the drawings of Andrea Palladio in British collections, which will be published by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2023.

In 2015-2019 he was a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. In 2017 he was Mellon Visiting Professor at the V&A-Royal College, London. In 1994-2000 he was visiting professor at the University of Ferrara, Italy. In 2011 he was Mellon Senior Fellow at Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; in 2009-2010 he was fellow at Columbia University; in 2008 he was Craig Hugh Smyth fellow at Villa I Tatti, Harvard University. He is a member of the Board of the CCA and he is a member of the International Advisory Panel di Architectural History.

He is a curator of exhibitions for the Palladio Museum in Vicenza; the Venice Architecture Biennale; the Royal Academy of Arts, London; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York; the National Building Museum, Washington; and the Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal.

In recent years exhibitions have been a means of further developing his studies and in particular the network of relations between writers and artists. He has recently completed a trilogy of Renaissance exhibitions: Pietro Bembo and the invention of the Renaissance (2013), Aldo Manuzio. The Renaissance of Venezia (2016) and What did Ariosto see when he closed his eyes ( 2017).

In addition to numerous papers and articles, the principal books he has written or co-edited include: The Elusive Face of Andrea Palladio (Milan 2017), Aldo Manuzio. The Renaissance of Venice (with Davide Gasparotto, Venice 2016), Storia dell’architettura nel Veneto. Il Cinquecento ( with D. Battilotti, E. Demo, W. Panciera,Venice 2015), Jefferson and Palladio. Constructing a New World (with F. Lenzo, Milan 2015), Pietro Bembo e l’invenzione del Rinascimento (with Davide Gasparotto and Adolfo Tura, Venice 2013), The Private Palladio (Zurich 2012, Berlin 2009, Venice 2008), Palladio and the Architecture of Battle (Venice and New York 2009), Carlo Scarpa e la scultura del Novecento (Venice 2009), Palladio (with H. Burns, Venice and London 2009), Carlo Scarpa. Architecture and Design (with Italo Zannier, Venice and New York 2007), Vincenzo Scamozzi. 1548-1616 (with F. Barbieri, Venice 2003).

Interlocutor: Charles Hind


Charles Hind is Chief Curator and H.J. Heinz Curator of Drawings at the Royal Institute of British Architects, where he has worked since 1996.  Previously, he has worked at the British Library, Sotheby’s and as an editor on the Macmillan Dictionary of Art.  He is an architectural historian with a particular interest in Andrea Palladio and anglo-Palladianism and is a Visiting Fellow at the Centro Palladio, Vicenza.  Charles co-curated Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey, which toured in the USA 2010-11, and Palladian Design: the Good, the Bad and the Unexpected at the RIBA in London (2015-16). He is a contributor to the forthcoming catalogue of drawings by Palladio in British collections, with an introductory chapter on the history and ownership of the drawings after Palladio’s death, the British architectural milieu that had access to them and the global influence of Palladianism.