Palladio's churches

Palladio's churches

San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice: the nave seen from the presbytery

Architect: Andrea Palladio (1565). Photograph: Edwin Smith (1961)
Copyright: Edwin Smith / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

By the early 1560s, Palladio was firmly established as one of Northern Italy’s most prominent architects, his cannon of work containing some of the finest villas and palaces in the region. Yet, after two decades of creative development, he had worked little on ecclesiastical buildings.

In 1558, he had gained commissions to complete existing projects, such as the dome of Vicenza cathedral and the entrance to San Pietro in Castello. But his talent as a church designer was as yet unproven. He needed wealthy patrons; these he found in Venice, not Vicenza.

Santa Maria della Carita (now the Accademia Gallery), (1561), was his first commission to design a church. Over the next two decades he undertook some remarkable ecclesiastical architecture, including two of the finest churches of the sixteenth century, the magnificent San Giorgio Maggiore and Il Redentore. These became models for church architecture across Europe. Palladio had established himself as the leading architect in Venice.