By Livia Lupi
Giacomo, or Jacopo, Barozzi was born 1 October 1507 in Vignola, near Modena. Due to his birthplace, Giacomo is also known as “il Vignola.” He was one of the most important architects of his century, working on numerous building projects and writing two architectural treatises. In particular, Giacomo’s major contribution to architectural theory is a clear definition of the concept of ‘architectural order’, which he describes in his Regola delli Cinque Ordini d’Architettura (Rule of the Five Orders of Architecture, 1562), one of the most widely circulated and influential architectural treatises of all time.
Educated as a painter in Bologna, Giacomo’s first commissions were designs for wood inlays, or intarsia. Along with his drawing skills, he cultivated an interest in architecture sparked by Sebastiano Serlio’s treatise, I Sette Libri dell’Architettura (Seven Books of Architecture, published from 1537). Giacomo moved to Rome in the 1530s, where he completed his education working as a painter and studying ancient monuments. Here, he met the painter, architect and sculptor Primaticcio, who employed Giacomo as an assistant on the project for the castle at Fontainebleau between 1541 and 1543. Then, Giacomo returned to Bologna, where he realized plans for the façade of the church of San Petronio, which unfortunately were never executed.
In 1550 Giacomo moved back to Rome, becoming the architect of the Farnese family and then, at Michelangelo’s death in 1564, the lead architect of St Peter’s in the Vatican. For the Farnese, he realized two imposing palaces at Caprarola and at Latera. For pope Julius III, he brought forward the projects for Villa Giulia and then designed the striking Tempietto di Sant’Andrea, which presents a square plan surmounted by an oval dome.
Giacomo Barozzi was buried in the Pantheon. His second architectural treatise, Le Due Regole della Prospettiva Pratica (The Two Rules of Applied Perspective), was published posthumously by Ignazio Danti in 1583.
Reference: Stefano Bottari, “Barozzi, Iacopo.” Dizionario Biografico, Enciclopedia Treccani.
Further reading: Bruno Adorni, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola (Milan: Skira, 2008).
Regola delli Cinque Ordini d’Architettura, Frontispiece, 1583 edition, Accademia Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, Modena.
Regola delli Cinque Ordini d’Architettura, TAV. XXXIII-XXXIV, 1583 edition, Accademia Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, Modena.
Villa Farnese, Caprarola, façade, 1559-1575.
Villa Farnese, Caprarola, aerial view, 1559-1575.
Villa Farnese, Caprarola, spiral staircase or Scala Regia, 1559-1575.
Giacomo Barozzi, Michelangelo, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Villa Giulia, Rome, 1551-1553.
Tempietto di Sant’Andrea, Rome, 1550-1554.