We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

search results

Previous Showing result 2 of 5 Next


Descrizione Della Regia Villa, Fontane, E Fabbriche Di Pratolino.

RA Collection: Book

Record number



(In Firenze,: L'Anno MDCCXLII., Nella Stamperia Granducale. Per i Tartini, e Franchi. Con Licenza de' Superiori.), [1742]

Physical Description

27, [1] p., [6], 6 dble. pl.; 347 mm. (Octavo.)


[T.p.] - Bernardo Sansone Sgrilli Architetto Fiorentino Al Benigno Lettore - [Text]; [colophon] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

Three of the unnumbered plates are signed as made by Sgrilli or 'B.S.' Three of the numbered plates are signed, 'S.D. Bella'.

The headpiece of the text and two decorated initials are unsigned; the tailpiece appears to be signed but the signature is illegible.


P. van der Ree et al., Italian villas and gardens (2nd. ed., 1993), p.75-81; A. Vezzosi, Villa Demidoff, parco di Pratolino (1986); L. Zangheri, 'L'acqua a Pratolino, da elemento naturale ad artifizio "maraviglioso" ', in Il giardino storico italiano, ed. G. Ragionieri (1981), p.355-61; L. Zangheri, Pratolino, il giardino delle meraviglie (2 v., 1979); A. Fara, Buontalenti architettura e teatro (1979); A. Fara, 'L'architettura delle ville buontalentiane attraverso i documenti', in Citta, ville, fortezze della Toscana nel XVI secolo (1978); A. Fara, 'Le ville di Bernardo Buontalenti nel tardo rinascimento toscana', in Stor. A. (1977); D. Heikamp, 'Pratolino suoi giorni splendidi', in Ant. Viva, 8 (1969), p.14-34; I.M. Botto, ed., Mostra di disegni di Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608) [exhibition catalogue] (1968); W. Smith, 'Pratolino', in J. Soc. Archit. Historians, 20 (1961), p.155-68; F. Moryson, Itinerary (1617, repr. 1907-8); F. de' Vieri, Discorsi di M. Francesco de' Vieri ... delle maravigliose opere di Pratolino e d'amore (1586); M. de Montaigne, Journal de voyage à l'Italie ... 1580-81, ed. C. Dedeyan (1946), p.185-6.

Summary Note

This record by Sgrilli and the earlier descriptions by Fynes Morison, Vieri, Montaigne and H. Schickhardt provide almost the only means we have of knowing one of the most celebrated villas of the 16th century, of which the automata and water-works rivalled those of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli. Most of the villa's sculptures were removed in the 18th century and in 1817 G. Fichs redesigned the park in British landscape style. It is only since 1872, when Prince Paul Demidoff bought the villa, that some remaining Mannerist features have been restored.

Sgrilli describes the park originally laid out for the Medici family by Bernardo Buontalenti between 1569 and 1581, with the assistance of Ammannati, V. Cioli and V. Danti. Giambologna designed the colossal figure of 'Appenino', which still survives (pl. 6). The automata of the villa included a statue of Pan, who, when approached, rose and played the flute to drinking animals, and grottoes where merely to sit on a bench would cause an instant flood. The long avenue to the south was lined with fine jets of water, intended not only to surprise the visitor but also to veil the palazzo in rainbow colours. Movement and surprise were an essential part of the design; and the plan of the park combines axial views with a complex network of winding paths.

The first five unnumbered plates show plans of the floors of the villa, and its gardens; the sixth shows its principal elevation. The six numbered plates are all views of the gardens, with their water-works, grotto and statuary. The headpiece of the text shows a distant view of the villa, backed by a plantation of pines.


Purchased by order of Council 21 April 1841 (RAA Council Minutes, IX, 187).

Binding Note

18th-century vellum.

Name as Subject


Architecture - Villas - Country houses - Gardens - Water gardens - Pleasure gardens - Garden structures - Temporary structures - Follies - Grottoes - Italy - Tuscany - Pratolino - Villa Demidoff - History - 16th century - Mannerist - 18th century
Plans - Elevations - Views - Vedute - Italy - 18th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 18th century