Andrea di Petro della Gondola was born in Padua in 1508. At age 16 he became an apprentice sculptor in Padua, where he specialized in monuments and was enrolled in the guild of the bricklayers and stonemasons. In 1530 he came to the attention of Count Gian Giorgio Trissino, who was restoring his classical-style villa-cum-academy at Cricoli near Vicenza. Trissino introduced Andrea to the work of the ancient Roman architect and theorist Vitruvius, whom Andrea later credited as his mentor. It was Trissimo who gave him the name Palladio, after the mythic goddess Pallas Athena, and it was at his academy that Andrea met the local aristocracy who were later to become his patrons. The earliest of Palladio’s design commissions is thought to be Villa Godi (1537), which already displayed some interesting architectural innovations. Over the next decade further commissions followed in the Vicenza and Padua areas, the most notable being Villas Piovene, Villa Pisani and Palazzo Thiene. In 1546 Palladio was chosen to restore and reconstruct the Palazzo della Ragione (Vicenza town hall), which became known as the Basilica Palladiana, a project that made his name famous throughout northern Italy. Numerous country houses, villas, and palaces followed, and during his latter years until his death in 1580, he designed several Venetian churches. His treatise, The Four Books of Architecture (1570), gained him Europe-wide recognition, and his ideas and his style were copied across the continent and in America, where the most obvious example is the White House.
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