Villa Features

Venetian windows

 

Elevation and plan for an unidentified villa

Elevation and plan for an unidentified villa Enlarge image

Elevation and plan for an unidentified villa
Andrea Palladio, 1540s
RIBA Library Drawings Collection

Detail of Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Detail of Houghton Hall, Norfolk Enlarge image

Detail of Houghton Hall, Norfolk
Colen Campbell, 1722 
RIBA Library Drawings Collection 

The Venetian window is arguably the most famous trademark of Palladianism and was commonly used in Palladian villas. It is composed of an archway or window with three openings, the central one of which is arched and wider than the others.

It is known by many names, including the Serliana, because it was first illustrated in Serlio’s ‘Architetettura’ of 1537, although it was probably derived from Bramante. The window form was much used by Palladio and his followers in seventeenth and eighteenth-century England, therefore it also became known as a Palladian or Venetian window.

The first use of a Venetian window in Britain was by Inigo Jones at the Queen’s Chapel, St. James’ Palace in 1623. This in turn became the model for countless Georgian churches which included a Venetian window in the east end. The earliest example in a domestic setting is on the remodelling of the south front of Wilton House in 1636 by de Caus and Jones.

The Neo-Palladians used this motif far more. Colen Campbell, for example, repeatedly adopt the Venetian window, a relatively early example of which can be seen at Houghton Hall. He interestingly used the feature in the same place on both the north and south fronts, in the piano nobile of the end tower pavilions. However, on the north front he added banded rustication to the design, in a similar fashion to that at Stourhead.