By Anne Leader and Costanza Beltrami

Renaissance architect, painter, and stage designer Baldassare Peruzzi was born on 15 January 1481 in Ancaiano, near Siena. He trained in Siena, possibly with the much older Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1501), whose style he thoroughly assimilated.

After moving to Rome in 1503, Peruzzi became well-known and esteemed among the art cognoscenti. Among Peruzzi’s best known works is the suburban villa known as the Farnesina built for Agostino Chigi, decorated by Peruzzi, Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Sodoma. Peruzzi’s understanding of architecture helped him create highly illusionistic frescoes.

In addition to paintings and buildings, well over 500 drawings survive by the artist. These include architectural drawings related to the rebuilding of St. Peter’s in Rome, a project Peruzzi took over from Raphael after the latter’s death in 1520. At the time, construction was at an impasse due to severe structural and design problems in the church’s original scheme, designed by Bramante in 1505–14. Peruzzi’s technical drawings are critical attempts to understand and improve the structure, often through innovative representational systems such as axonometric projection. In other cases, he pursued design solutions through imaginative pieces, for example a striking perspective view known as Uffizi 2 A, widely considered a masterpiece of architectural drawing.

Reference: Nicholas Adams, “Peruzzi, Baldassare,” Grove Art Online, Oxford University Press.

Perspective views of the Sala delle Prospettive, 1515-17, fresco, Villa Farnesina, Rome

Garden façade of the Villa Farnesina, Rome, c. 1506; photo credit: Vanni/Art Resource, NY

View of the Loggia di Galatea, 1510-11, fresco, Villa Farnesina, Rome

Perseus and Pegasus, 1510-11, fresco, Villa Farnesina, Rome

Holy Family, about 1515, pen and brown ink and black chalk; top left squared in black chalk, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Perspective drawing of Saint Peter’s, Rome, c. 1506, Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe degli Uffizi, Firenze. Inv. GDSU, cat. A, n. 2.

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