Villa Cornaro Palladiana, Vicenza, Italy

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The front entrance of Villa Cornaro Palladiana

Our urban sketching group visited Villa Cornaro Palladiana, owned by Carl and Sally Gable, who bought this summer “house” approximately 30 years ago. Carl graciously gave us a guided tour of his home.  Here’s a quick attempt at sketching our guide.

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I did this sketch very quickly while listening to the fascinating history of this villa and following Mr. Gable around the different rooms. I am new to drawing people so this isn’t an accurate rendition but I do think it does capture the essence and some resemblance of Mr. Gable.

When Carl and Sally purchased the property, Carl said that they hadn’t even heard of the architect, Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580.  They have done a lot of research since and Carl delivered a captivating and informative tour.  Usually Palladio designed long and one level structures but because the owners that employed Palladio purchased a square shaped block of land, Palladio had to adapt his design to fit onto the piece of land.  To compromise on symmetry was absolutely non-negotiable for Palladio, so he designed his first ever two story building – the Villa Cornaro Palladiana.

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The dramatic two storey designed villa – a first for Andrea Palladio..

Inside, there are grand frescoes and sculptures adorning walls.

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Sculpted oval frames adorned with cherubs surround sculptures on each wall.

The Villa Cornaro remained in the Cornaro family for 253 years, and then three different families took ownership of it until 1951.  It was then vacant for approximately a decade until a church purchased it and ran a kindergarten in the building.  The church thought that the cherubs’ lack of modesty was inappropriate for the four to five year old kindergarten students, so they had all cherubs’ penises removed!

All the villas we had visited so far, had painted pillars in the frescoes, which gave the impression that the room was bigger than it actually was. In the Villa Cornaro they had large sculptures of family members facing real, majestic pillars in the grand main room.

Cornora statues

In 1969, the Villa Cornaro was once again privately owned and restored over a period of 20 years and then in 1989, Carl and Sally Gable purchased the property.  They are the sixth family to occupy the villa in its 450 year history.  The Gables have published a book about their relationship with this majestic building.  The book is titled, Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House.

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The front of the Villa Cornaro Palladiana with some of the urban sketchers looking dwarfed by the impressive two storey entrance.

After the tour, we went out back and were given 15 minutes to sketch the house.  I was quite pleased that I was able to draw it up in 15 minutes, as speed drawing is not my forte.  I’m fairly new to urban sketching – about 9 months new, definitely wearing L Plates, so I was happy that I remembered the vertical vanishing point.  My brain seems to more easily remember and work out horizontal vanishing points and completely forget about the vertical ones or allows the brain to override the eye, and win that battle and the brain ends up being incorrect! Lesson to self: trust the eye rather than the logic the brain uses to try to manipulate you to believing it (walls and sides of houses are straight says the brain). Has anyone else encountered this battle?  What is your strategy to avoid the trap of allowing the brain to win against your better judgment (eye)?

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My drawing of part of the back view of the villa. I applied water colour to the drawing when we returned to our hotel.
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A statue at the front of the villa
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