Pirro Ligorio

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Pirro Ligorio
Pirro Ligorio.jpg
Pirro Ligorio
Born c. 1512–1513
Naples in present-day Italy
Died 30 October 1583 (aged about 70)
Ferrara, in present-day Italy
Nationality Italian
Known for Architecture, painting
Notable work Villa d'Este, Casina Pio IV
Movement High Renaissance

Pirro Ligorio (c. 1513/1514 – 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 around 1512–1513. In 1534 he moved to Rome, where he developed his interest in antiquities, and was named papal architect by Pope Pope Paul IV, a position he continued under Pius 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 found a new position in the court of Alfonso II D'Este in Ferrara, where he was appointed Ducal Antiquary.

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.


  1. ^ Ligorio, Pirro (2006). Libro, o Trattato de' diversi terremoti, vol 28. Rome: Guidoboni. ISBN 88-8016-746-4. 


  • Anonymous, "Ligorio, Pirro," Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Rome: Istiuto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2005), 65: 109–114.
  • Coffin, D.R. (2003). Pirro Ligorio. The Renaissance Artist, Architect, and Antiquarian. Penn State Press. 
  • Rendina, Claudio (2000). Enciclopedia di Roma. Rome: Netwon & Compton. 
  • 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
  • Palma Venetucci, Beatrice, "Pirro Ligorio and the Rediscovery of Antiquity" in Jane Feifer, Tobias Fischer-Hansen and Annette Rathje, The Rediscovery of Antiquity: The Role of the Artist (Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen Press, 2003), 63–88.
  • Daniel Sherer, "Error or Invention? Critical Receptions of Michelangelo's Architecture from Pirro Ligorio to Teofilo Gallaccini", Perspecta 46 (2013).

External links[edit]