Pirro Ligorio

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Pirro Ligorio
Pirro Ligorio.jpg
Pirro Ligorio
Born c. 1510
Naples in present-day Italy
Died 30 October 1583 (Aged about 70)
Ferrara, in present-day Italy
Nationality Italian
Field Architecture, Painting
Movement High Renaissance
Works Villa d'Este, Casina Pio IV

Pirro Ligorio (c. 1510 – 30 October 1583) was an Italian architect, painter, antiquarian and garden designer.

Life and career[edit]

The lodge in the Belvedere courtyard, in Vatican Museums

Ligorio was born in Naples. In 1534 he moved to Rome, where he developed his interest in antiquities, and was named superintendent to the ancient monuments by the Popes Pius IV and Paul IV. In 1549 he began excavations in the Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli and designed his masterwork, the water works at Villa d'Este, for Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este. He also played a role in designing the fountains at Villa Lante in Bagnaia, working alongside Vignola. His Manieristic taste is present also in the Casina Pio IV (also known as Villa Pia) at the Vatican (1559–1562).

In 1568 he was fired by Paul V for having criticized Michelangelo's work in St. Peter's Basilica, and moved to Ferrara, where he was guest of Duke Alfonso II d'Este.

As a scholar of antiquities, one of his most famous published works is a map of ancient Rome (Antiquae Urbis Imago) from 1561. After the 1570 Ferrara earthquake he was appointed as the leader of a study group about seismological events, a team of physics, philosophers and many "experts in various accidents" called to the city in order to conduct research about earthquakes, the first scientific effort of this kind in history of seismology. In his research, Ligorio blamed for the extensive damages the inappropriate techniques and bad materials used in building the city's edifices.

In the last part of his treatise, Rimedi contra terremoti per la sicurezza degli edifici (Remedies against earthquakes for building security), Ligorio presented design plans for a shock-proof building, the first known design with a scientific anti-seismic approach.[1] Many of the empirical findings of Ligorio are consistent with contemporary anti-seismic practices: among them the correct dimensioning of main walls, use of better and stronger bricks as well as elastic structural joints and iron rods.

He died in Ferrara in 1583. Ligorius left a collection of ancient epigraphy, notorious for the numerous forgeries it contains. Many of Ligorius' falsifications persist in the literature of the 17th and 18th century, e.g. the work of Marquard Gude and its later editions, but they were recognized by the mid 19th century.


  • Coffin, D.R. (2003). Pirro Ligorio. The Renaissance Artist, Architect, and Antiquarian. Penn State Press. 
  • Rendina, Claudio (2000). Enciclopedia di Roma. Rome: Netwon & Compton. 
  1. ^ Ligorio, Pirro (2006). Libro, o Trattato de' diversi terremoti, vol 28. Rome: Guidoboni. ISBN 88-8016-746-4. 
  • George Crabb, Universal historical dictionary: or explanation of the names of persons and places in the departments of biblical, political and eccles. history, mythology, heraldry, biography, bibliography, geography, and numismatics, vol. 2, Baldwin and Cradock, 1833.
  • Charles Knight, The English Cyclopaedia: a new dictionary of Universal Knowledge, vol 4, Bradbury and Evans, 1860, p. 895
  • Daniel Sherer, "Error or Invention? Critical Receptions of Michelangelo's Architecture from Pirro Ligorio to Teofilo Gallaccini,"Perspecta 46 (2013).

External links[edit]