Palladianism (18th century)

Palladianism is named after the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, whose work had a relevant influence on architecture in Europe from the 18th century to the present day.

An oval portrait of a man on the left, and a detailed drawing including columns, statues and soldiers on the right.
I quattro libri dell’architettura  by Andrea Palladio

Image source: by Andrea Palladio

I Printed book with woodcut illustrations of the floor plan of a structure, by Palladio.
I quattro libri dell’architettura di Andrea Palladio.

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Origins and Features of this Style

Palladio redesigned Roman architecture for contemporary use and published “I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura,”  which was translated and published across Europe. His architecture emphasized symmetry, proportion, and his codification of Classical Orders. He used classical forms and decorative motifs. These are the main features:

  • Corinthian columns and acanthus leaves
  • Shells, a symbol of the Roman goddess Venus
  • Pediments and masks used as decorations inside and outside of buildings
  • Terms are used to recall the Roman god, Terminus, as boundary markers
Corinthian capital, located in Chiswick House, London.
Corinthian capital, Chiswick House, London

Image source: by orangeaurochs


Andrea Palladio’s style strongly recalls Classical times, and his concepts are based on ancient Roman architecture. He wrote “I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura”  which contains illustrations and explanations of his architecture. His first commission was Villa Godi. It features many elements of the architecture of castles, such as “La colombaia.”

Villa Godi, which is a light-stone, simple structure with three rows of rectangular windows and an arched doorway.
Villa Godi _ in Lugo di Vicenza, Veneto by Andrea Palladio

Image source: by hans a rosbach

English Palladianism

Chiswick House, finished between 1725 and 1729, was designed by Lord Burlington. The centralized structure and square plan of the estate was inspired by Andrea Palladio’s Villa Rotonda near Vicenza (Italy).

A photo of a rectangular stone structure with a dome on the top and 6 columns along the center-front to hold up the roof above the porch.
Chiswick House

Image source: by Maxwell Hamilton

Chiswick House shown from the back. A grand, curvy staircase comes out from the left and right of the central arched door in the center.
Chiswick House

Image source: by It’s No Game

Wanstead House was designed by Colen Campbell: an architect and pioneer of the Palladian style. The grand entrance portico, arched windows, huge blocks of basement, and pavilions adorned by arched “Venetian” windows at Wanstead will later become key Palladian architecture features.

Wanstead House. A drawing showing a grand entrance portico, arched windows, huge blocks of basement, and pavilions adorned by arched "Venetian" windows. Three people are in the foreground.
Wanstead House

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Palladian Furniture

Architects were interested in buildings, grounds, and gardens, but furniture was different because it had to be in line with other elements. William Kent, a furniture designer linked to Palladian architecture, designed pieces for Burlington’s villa and Chiswick House. The “Kentian” style was ornate, unique and fashioned with gold details.

Chiswick House - Conservatory dome, shown with a single sparse palm tree in the center.
Chiswick House / Conservatory dome

Image source: by Images George Rex

Benjamin Goodison is another important designer, who part of the Royal cabinet under George II of Great Britain. For his work, he took inspiration from the Neo-Palladian designs of William Kent.

Gilded gesso on walnut; previously covered in eighteenth-century red silk damask not original. A golden two-person chair with a red cushion, which was likely designed by Benjamin Goodison.
Settee – Possibly made by Benjamin Goodison (1700–1767)
The two golden legs of a furniture piece, likely designed by Benjamin Goodison.
The two golden legs of a furniture piece, likely designed by Benjamin Goodison.

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