Artibus et Historiae no. 56 (XXVIII)

2007, ISSN 0391-9064

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LOREDANA OLIVATO - An American in the Serenissima: James Fenimore Cooper and Palladio

The essay concentrates on the observations about the Palladian architecture (in particular on the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza), formulated by the novelist James Fenimore Cooper during his travel to Italy (1828—1830). On that occasion, while undertaking the traditional grand tour to visit the most representative places of the Renaissance culture, the writer revealed a peculiar position with regard to the great architect, on one hand, and to the structure of the theatre in Vicenza, on the other. Contrary to the habit of the numerous European travellers that used to consider the Olympic Theatre an element indispensable in the Palladian language of architecture, James Fenimore Cooper was curiously and "brutally" critical of it. In the author's opinion, the American writer was the first to realize the incongruence between the perspectives of the stage set designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi — who completed Andrea's enterprise after his death — and the Palladian architectural structure. He interpreted them as a misunderstanding of the organic apparatus inspired by the Antiquity, that Palladio had originally conceived.

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