"The most ambitious of the Renaissance treatises on architecture"

Scamozzi, Vincenzo (1552-1616)

L'idea della architettura universale, di Vincenzo Scamozzi architetto veneto divisa in X. libri [...] Parte seconda Dell'esquisitezza de' cinque ordini ...

Venice: Giorgio Valentini, 1615


Folio: 33.8 x 22.5 cm. Part I: [16], 90, [7], 96-128, 125-193, [2], 194-218, [4], 219-352, [34] p. (included in the pagination are: engr. t.-pl. (incl. port.), 36 full-page woodcuts (3 dble.), 4 dble. engr. pl.). - Part II: [12], 172, [4], 173-232, 235-[269], [v], 271-370, [22] p. (included in the pagination are: engr. t.-pl. (incl. port.), 40 engr. pl. (1 dble.), 6 full-page woodcuts). This pagination for Part I includes the printer


Bound in contemporary vellum, soiled. Edges of textblock stained blue. The text is in very good condition with minor blemishes and occasional stains (see footer for detailed note.) Volume II plate on page 62 a duplication of p.58, no correct plate pasted over. Illustrated with 2 engraved titles incorporating a portrait of the author, each book with printed title, 42 full-page woodcut illustrations (3 double-page), and 44 full-page engraved illustrations (5 double-page), ornamental initials and headpieces.

“Scamozzi, along with Sebastiano Serlio, Palladio, and Vignola, was one of the most distinguished theorists of the Renaissance… He is distinguished among 16th century Italian architectural theorists in having also produced a large body of surviving architectural works. These include the Procuratie Nuove in Venice and the design of the town of Sabbioneta… In his old age, Scamozzi ‘enjoyed an undisputed international reputation and provided a direct link with Palladio for Bernini’s generation’ (Wittkower 1983, 26) and also connected ‘the Palladian tradition to the greater inventions of his pupil Longhena’(Lewis 1977, 45). Scamozzi had been the student and assistant of Andrea Palladio, many of whose works he completed after 1580, including the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. He was highly cultivated and well traveled, spending time in Rome and Naples between 1578 and 1580, and joined the Venetian delegation sent to congratulate Sixtus V on his election as pope in 1585…. Scamozzi settled in Venice in 1581 after his extensive stay in Rome and Naples, where he excavated, measured and drew architectural ruins and studied mathematics."(Martha Pollak, Millard IV, no. 122)

First edition of one of the last major architectural treatises of the Italian Renaissance, composed by the Italian architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548-1616) Conceived in 10 books, only books 1 to 3 of the first part and books 6 to 8 of the second part were published; the others remained unfinished at Scamozzi's death in 1616. The first book deals with "the excellence of architecture and the qualities necessary to form a good architect", the second concerns "the climates, the country, the various qualities of the lands as well as the figure of cities and fortresses ", the third deals with private buildings and pleasure houses, nature and the search for water and machinery for raising them. Books 6 to 8 deal respectively with the five orders of architecture and the ornaments that suit them, the different materials used in the construction of a building and its foundations, their construction and the machinery needed to drive & raise great weights. The edition includes an engraved title inscribed in a portico decorated with the portrait of the author in medallion, placed at the head of each of the two parts. The first 3 books are illustrated with 36 woods and 5 brass full-page or double-page, and books 6 to 8 of 40 engravings on copper and 6 on full-page wood, all engraved according to the drawings of Scamozzi.

Condition report: Stain in margin of T4, small wormhole in gutter of Aa1/6, A6 of second part with glue-stain and marginal repair (no loss); Ink stain in margin of Kk3, very light dampstain to sigs N-R, second part.

Cicognara 651; Avery 54; Fowler 292; Berlin Kat. 2605; Cicognara 651; BAL, RIBA 2917; Millard Italian 123. Collated against the Royal Academy copy.