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Bruce Boucher on Andrea Palladio

ANDREA PALLADIO IS THE MOST famous architect the world has never known. If that sounds like a paradox, it is meant to be one. Although his name has endured for centuries, Palladio the man remains a cipher: In life he was elusive, and his inner thoughts remain a mystery. What we do know about Palladio derives from the rich heritage of his drawings and projects, which convey an understanding of architectural design scarcely rivaled to this day. Born in Padua in 1508, Palladio started out as a stonemason, working his way up to master architect over the course of two decades. Specializing in domestic construction, he exercised his trade chiefly in the small northern town of Vicenza and its territory, finally gaining recognition in the last decade of his life, when he became the unofficial first architect of Venice. There he published a retrospective volume of his designs, began several churches,

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