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Italian Architecture

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Italian Architecture.—After the dismemberment of the Roman empire, the arts degenerated so far that a custom became prevalent of erecting new buildings with the fragments of old ones, which were dilapidated and torn down for the purpose. This gave rise to an irregular style of building, which continued to be imitated, especially in Italy, during the dark ages. It consisted of Grecian and Roman details, combined under new forms, and piled up into structures wholly unlike the unique originals. Hence the names Greco-Gothic and Romanesque architecture have been given to it. After this came the Italian style, which was professedly a revival of the classic styles of Greece and Rome, but adapted to new manners and wants — a kind of transition from ancient to modern times. Its great master was Andrea Palladio, a Venetian (born 1518, died 1580).

There are considerable variety and beauty in the foliate and other enrichments of an architectural character in many structures in Italy, but very little ornament enters into the columnar composition of Italian architecture. Friezes, instead of being sculptured, are swollen; the shafts of columns are very seldom fluted, and their capitals are generally poor in the extreme ; moldings are indeed sometimes carved, but not often ; rustic masonry, ill-formed festoons, and gouty balustrades for the most part supply the place of chaste and classic ornaments.

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