Thomas Jefferson embraced the architecture of Andrea Palladio as model for 18th century America, but he never actually visited any of the Veneto architect’s buildings. Instead he came to know Palladio through Giacomo Leoni’s first English translation of Quatro Libri dell’Architettura published in 1721. Now a beautifully-realized photographic exhibition, Found in Translation: Palladio–Jefferson, at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal subtly focuses on Jefferson’s translation of Palladian architectural form into buildings for the new democratic nation.
Created and conceived by the Italian photographer Filippo Romano and Guido Beltramini, director of the Palladio Museum, the show features side-by-side images of Palladio’s Veneto buildings and Virginia ‘replicas’ in the master’s style. The exhibit also features original Palladio and Leoni books.
Rather than focus on the American translation—which many scholars and artists have already done—this show highlights the American structures as a way of highlighting the master’s resilient but irreducible Italian architecture. Romano’s images all foreground the architecture in contemporary situations—being visited, for example, by tourists—to remove a second time from its original context and further highlight the architecture’s enduring principles.