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Pirro Ligorio: The Renaissance Artist, Architect, and Antiquarian

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Pirro Ligorio (1510–1583), an Italian architect and antiquarian who designed the Casino of Pius IV and large portions of the gardens of the Villa d’Este, has long been a notoriously elusive subject because of his daunting erudition and because his notebooks and drawings are in collections scattered throughout the world. In this book David R. Coffin, one of America’s leading experts on Renaissance architecture and landscape architecture, mobilizes all available published and unpublished materials to offer the first comprehensive account of Ligorio’s life and multifaceted career.

Coffin traces the unfolding of Ligorio’s life from his early years in Naples, to his work in Rome, where he served several popes and pored over Ancient ruins, through his residency in Ferrara as court antiquarian. In addition to illuminating Ligorio’s relationship to his patrons, Coffin sheds new light on Ligorio’s famed map of ancient Rome, a masterpiece that bears witness to Ligorio’s cartographic skills, his erudition, and his lifelong fascination with the eternal city. Copiously illustrated, Coffin’s biography includes a checklist of Ligorio’s drawings. It will be of interest to architectural historians, art historians, and all those involved with the study of Rome and of the classical heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This volume reflects the alpha and the omega of the author’s career.”

—J.K. Dabbs, Choice

“The volume is well produced, with copious black-and-white illustrations integrated with the text.”

—J.K. Dabbs, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271022932
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

David R. Coffin passed away in October 2003. He was Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Professor of the History of Architecture, Emeritus, at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations




1. Early Years in Rome

2. Ligorio in Papal Employ

The Papacy of Paul IV (1555–1559)

The Papacy of Pius IV (1559–1565)

The Papacy of Pius V (1566–1572)

3. The Villa d’Este at Tivoli

4. Ligorio in Ferrara



I. House Facades at Rome Painted by Ligorio

II. Documents

III. The So-Called Palazzetto di Pirro Ligorio

IV. Figural and Ornamental Drawings of Pirro Ligorio

Checklist of Figural and Ornamental Drawings of Pirro Ligorio




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