Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Villas of the Veneto; Villa Thiene (Quinto Vicentino)
Located at Quinto Vicentino's main intersection, Villa Thiene's brick facade does not look like much. It's simplicity makes it blend well with the other buildings around it, making it very hard to spot while driving even though there are approximately five or six signs within a mile of the villa telling the driver that it is in fact in the immediate area.
The original plans for the villa, however, was anything but simple. Drawn up between 1542 and 1543, the villa's plans were unlike other villas designed by Palladio. This was supposed to have two very big structures flanking the main building that were supposed to tower over the center of the structure. Rows of columns that run the entire length of the villa visually tie in the whole structure. However, due to the twists in the fate of the Thiene family--including deaths, flee from Vicenza, and a power shift to Ferrara--the building was abandoned until the 1700s when Francesco Muttoni decided to complete the building. However, although he finished the main apartments, he radically changed the design by abandoning the great flanks of the building and realigning the facade by turning it ninety degrees to the south.
Nowadays, the villa serves as the town's city hall. The short, stumpy flanks of the building serve as storefronts and offices. Looking at the villa's facade, it is easy to be underwhelmed by the building's relative punity and seeming unimportance. Seeing Palladio's proposed plans, It's easy to imagine how the building could have been magnificent. However, such are the pitfalls of Palladio's Four Books on Architecture: the plans that were ultimately added to Palladio's book were theoretical reassessments, much different from the actual plans presented to the Thiene brothers decades before, which was less complex. Ergo, it is easy to idealize the plans we have from the book because they are idealized.