Sebastiano Serlio on Architecture, Volume 1


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Books I-V of "Tutte l`opere d`architettura et prospetiva"

Sebastian Serlio; Translated by Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks

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Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554) was the most important architectural writer and theorist of the sixteenth century; despite this, his writings have been virtually inaccessible until now. This translation of Serlio’s five-volume treatise—he died before publishing two further volumes—replaces the only other English version, one that was produced in 1611 from an inaccurate Dutch translation of the Italian original. Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, working directly from Serlio’s own corrected editions, here provide new access to his highly influential treatise. Serlio introduced northern Europe to the principles of classical design. When Christopher Wren was building St. Paul’s Cathedral and when John Wood designed the streets of Bath, for example, both architects had Serlio’s books on hand.

Serlio begins with the rules of geometry and perspective, and continues with a description of the ornamental splendor of the baths, temples, arches, and palaces of ancient Rome. He includes advice on how to incorporate classical features into interior designs. In an innovative discussion of Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, to which he added Composite, Serlio established a canon of Five Orders that held authority for over a century. He illustrates the use of these orders in twelve temple designs.

Serlio’s attempt to codify the rules of a design language that utilized tradition while facilitating invention mirrors similar efforts by architects in the twentieth century to establish an architectural order through rules governing proportion and form.
Serlio’s beautiful woodcut illustrations are reproduced in this edition, which also includes a thorough introduction, commentary, and glossary of terms.

Vaughan Hart is senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Bath, director of its Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture, and author in the field of Renaissance architecture. Peter Hicks is a classicist, scholar of Renaissance printed texts, and professional translator.

"An excellent translation . . . [which] gives the English reader direct and fresh access to what is not only the most influential architectural treatise of the sixteenth century but one of the most innovative in the European tradition. . . . It is a pleasure to acknowledge a publication which has been well planned and carefully prepared. . . . The work does honour to its subject."—John Onians, Times Literary Supplement

"This edition, which includes excellent reproductions of Serlio’s plates, makes a long-awaited and very valuable addition to the published literature on Renaissance architecture, and on the theory and practice of Classical design."—Dan Cruickshank, Architects’ Journal

"This new edition will prove to be an indispensable tool for every English-speaking person concerned with Renaissance architecture."—David Hemsoll, Apollo Magazine

"What a pleasure to have this important text available in such a handsome and well-done publication. . . . This translation is sound and dependable, and appears with reproductions of the original illustrations keyed into the text to replicate as closely as possible the original Italian editions."—Choice

"A treasure of a book."—Interior Design

"Not only has the text been reliably translated from the Italian original, but this text has been printed in an easily read modern typeface and inserted in the place of the Italian original on the plates which are reproduced from the last editions Serlio prepared for press before his death. For the first time teachers of sixteenth-century Italian art or architectural history can set Serlio’s treatise for study with the knowledge that the visual appearance of the original editions has been retained. . . . This is a handsome edition by Yale University Press of a very important early modern text, now available in reliable English at an affordable price. . . . I suspect that even most scholars of architecture will turn to this edition first, before heading for the Italian original."—Andrew Hopkins, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Well-documented and useful."—Ronald Stenvert, Archis

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2003 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300113051
Publication Date: April 22, 2005
528 pages, 9 x 11
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