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Privilege granted to Andrea Palladio for his Four Books on Architecture, with supporting endorsement by member of the Roman Inquisition (1571)

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1. The Petition

The petition is in fact an endorsement by the head Inquisitor, the Dominican friar Aurelio Schilino da Brescia, vouching for the doctrinal conformity of Palladio’s work.  The handwritten notes at the back of the privilege indicate that the person petitioning for the privilege on Palladio’s behalf was “the Venetian Sorianus,” but the record does not contain a separate petition document.

2. The Privilege

This privilege does not appear in the first edition of this work. This may be because the first edition were printed in Venice in 1570 and, although the Papal privilege was requested on November 30, 1570, it did not issue until January 5, 1571; however, the first edition still includes the phrase “con privilegi” on the title page; the identification of plural privileges probably references Venice and the Vatican. (For another example of publication of a book in anticipation of a privilege not granted till the following year, see, va_1598: Petition of and Privilege to Orazio Torsellini for his History of the House of Loreto; the book’s publication date was 1597, the Papal privilege issued in 1598.)  It appears the Venetian editions from 1581 and 1616 also do not include a printed copy of the privilege.

The terms of the privilege are fairly standard: the exclusive right to engrave, print or sell copies of the work for a ten-year period commencing from publication.  The penalties, in addition to excommunication (applicable to violators throughout the Christian world), list sanctions applicable to Rome and the Papal States: a 500-ducat fine (a very considerable sum), and confiscation of infringing copies.  Although many privileges provided for their republication in the pages of the book, see, e.g., va_1587 (Giolito de Ferrari); va_1588 (Veltroni); va_1589 (Voss); va_1598 (Torsellini), this privilege references only inscription by a notary public (a formality often paired with publication in the pages of the book).

3.  Renaissance books on architecture

I quattro libri dell’architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) by Andrea Palladio. First published in 1570, The Four Books is widely regarded as among the most important pieces of architectural literature ever written. Palladio worked on the book for well over a decade before its publication: References to it date from as early as the mid-1550s. As its name suggests, The Four Books is divided into four books, each discussing and providing high-quality illustrations regarding different topics. Book I concerns building materials and techniques as well as the five orders of architecture (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite). Book II concerns private residences, urban and rural, most designed by Palladio himself. Book III concerns ancient Roman urban architecture, such as bridges and piazzas. Finally, Part IV concerns ancient Roman temples. Since its publication, The Four Books has been translated into several languages; the first English translation in over 250 years was published in 1997. See, Bruce Boucher, Andrea Palladio (Oxford Bibliographies); Robert Tavernor and Richard Schofield, trans., The Four Books on Architecture by Andrea Palladio, Cambridge: The MIT Press  (1997).

A digital scan of the 1570 Venetian edition, (CNCE 72746) is available via Architectura: Architecture, Textes et Images XVIe-XVIIe siècles,   There does not appear to have been a separate 1571 Roman edition of the Quattro Libri.  Palladio, or his publishers, obtained privileges for other works of Palladio on architecture and on Roman antiquities, see biographical note below.

The renewed interest in Vitruvius’ (1st century CE) work, which marked the Italian Renaissance in its entirety, also manifested in 16th century printing on the peninsula. Among Papal privileges granted to works on architecture, in addition to the Four Books by Palladio, figure a translation and commentary on Vitruvius by Gianbatista Caporali, Architettura, con il suo commento et figure. Vetruuio in volgar lingua raportato per m. Gianbatista Caporali di Perugia  (Index 294 F 430) (1536), CNCE 54111 [the frontispiece does not reference a privilege, but the Clement VII privilege is printed in full on the first inside page, see Google Books.  Another leading architect of the 16th century, Sebastiano Serlio, received a 1550 privilege for his Extraordinario libro di architettura di Sebastiano Serlio, architetto del re christianissimo, nel quale si dimostrano trenta porte di opera rustica con diuersi ordini, published in Lyon in 1551, CNCE 69692 (ARM XLI v. 58 f. 324).  This work is said to have influenced Palladio’s Quattro Libri, see Bruce Boucher, supra.  The Venetian publisher Gabriele Giolito de Ferrari received a Papal privilege in 1552 for Della Architettura di Gio. Antonio Rusconi. Con Centosessanta Figure Dissegnate dal Medesimo, secondo i precetti di Vitruvio (Arm XLI v. 66 f 233). The Giolito publishing house produced a posthumous edition in 1590,  CNCE 27820, full text at,5 , whose frontispiece asserts, but does not specify, plural privileges (“con privilegi”).  According to Cristiano Marchegiani in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani,, the publication in Venice in 1556 of Daniele Barbaro’s translation and commentary on Vitruvius, I Dieci Libri dell' Architettvra di M. Vitrvvio, with illustrations by Palladio, discouraged Rusconi from publishing his own translation of Vitruvius, even though he had already prepared 300 copper engravings for the publication.  Giolito selected 160 of these for the 1590 posthumous publication.  Since the 1552 privilege granted a ten-year term, starting from the publication of the book, Giolito would still have enjoyed exclusive rights, even almost 40 years later.  The Spanish architect Juan de Herrera received a 1584 privilege for a series of eleven prints of his designs for the monastery at El Escorial, Spain (Sec. Brev. Reg. 59 f. 409) see Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe, Herrera’s Papal Privilegio for the Escorial Prints, Print Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 2 (June 1992), pp. 177-180,

4. Persons Mentioned

Cesare Glorieri

Cesare Glorieri (1505–1595). Cardinal-Secretary of Papal Letters. Glorieri was a long-serving papal secretary who began working for the Vatican sometime around 1526. Over the course of his career he amassed great personal wealth, which was subsequently seized from him by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584 due to Glorieri's alleged involvement in a financial scandal related to Pope Pius IV's estate. After Gregory's death in 1585, Pope Sixtus V restored Glorieri's wealth to him, but it does not appear that Glorieri returned to his secretarial duties. In 1575, he commissioned the Chapel of the Assumption in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, in the Borgo section of Rome. For more on Cesare Glorieri, see “Glorieri, Alessandro.” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 57 (2001).

Andrea Palladio 

Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) was a renowned architect and architectural theorist born in Padua. Palladio first worked as a stone cutter. Beginning in 1537, he worked in this latter role at a villa owned by the poet Gian Giorgio Trissino, who played an outsize role in the architect’s life. Palladio designed his first structure perhaps as early as 1537 but was not publicly known as an architect until 1540. The first of Palladio’s several trips to Rome with Trissino took place in 1541, and it was after this trip that Palladio’s architectural career began in earnest. Indeed, classical architecture—particularly the works of Vitruvius—had a great influence on the architect. So great was this influence that Palladio wrote the The Antiquities of Rome, published in Rome by Vincenzo Lucrino in 1554 (“Con gratia & Privilegio per anni diece”) CNCE 35840, a wildly popular guide to Rome’s architectural relics, with at least 20 editions published in Rome and Venice during the 16th century.  He also supplied the illustrations for Daniele Barbaro’s translation and commentary on Vitruvius, I Dieci Libri dell' Architettvra di M. Vitrvvio, published in Venice in 1556 by Francesco Marcolini, “with [unspecified] privileges”) CNCE 28623

I Dieci Libri dell’Architettvra di M. Vitrvvio Tradvtti et Commentati da Monsignor Barbaro Eletto Patriarca D’Aqvileggia;

Soli Deo Onor in Vinegia per Francesco Marcolini con Privilegi MD LVI

The Four Books of Architecture, first published in Venice in 1570, cemented Palladio’s reputation as one of the sixteenth century’s—and history’s—most notable architects. Palladio died in 1580 in Vicenza, a city graced by many of his works. See, “Andrea di Pietro della Gondola detto Palladio” (Treccani); “Gian Giorgio Trissino” (Treccani); Palladio’s Rome, Vaughan Hart & Peter Hicks (2008); Bruce Boucher, Andrea Palladio (Oxford Bibliographies) [and works cited therein]; Andreas Beyer, Palladio, Andrea [Gondola, Andrea di Pietro della] (2003, with 2010 updates), Grove Art Online, ;

Aurelio Schilino

Fra Aurelio Schilino da Brescia, OP, head inquisitor of Venice, 1569-74.  May have been present at the trial of Paolo Veronese July 18, 1573, over his depiction of the Last Supper.  See Massimo Centini, Storia dell'Inquisizione: I metodi e i processi del tribunale di Dio 249 (Diarkos 2023) (“La convocazione del Veronese, presumibilmente al cospetto dell’inquisitore capo Aurelio Schilino da Brescia, fu determinata dalla tela l’ultima cena.” [The convocation of Veronese, presumably at the instance of the head inquisitor Aurelio Schilino of Brescia, was determined by the canvas of the Last Supper]); Massimo Centini, «Veronese attento: l’eresia si nasconde nei dettagli…» [Veronese, be careful: heresy hides itself in the details], Storia in Rete (20 Dec. 2022), (same).

Michele Suriano

A Venetian ambassador. In his history of 16th and 17th century Popes, Ranke refers to a report presented by “M. Suriano,” ambassador to Pope Pius V., on Suriano’s return from Rome in 1571. See Leopold Ranke, The History of the Popes, London: Bell & Daldy (1871), 179. Other sources also refer to a Venetian ambassador named Michele Suriano. See, “Suriano, Michele,” Yale Archives. “Suriano” is a known variant spelling of “Soriano.” See “Soriano, Antonio,” British Library

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