Such reference books as are most often consuited in public libraries say little more about Andrea Palladio than that he was an Italian architect, of Venice, born in 1518, died in 1580, that he was one of the creators of the Italian, or neo-Classical style, that he wrote treatises on his art, and that he seas called "the modern Vitruvius." That would be a pitiably weak description of Palladio in the eyes of any English Mason who had read The First & Chief; Grounds of Architecture, the first book printed in England on architecture, by John Shute, who had gone to Venice in the 1540's and there for two or three years had studied "the glories of the new Italian architecture" at first hand; or after Inigo Jones, about 1600, came back to his King after a similar journey of study, and introduced the new style into England; for Palladio became a vast enthusiasm there, almost a cult, and hundreds of small clubs of amateur architects met to study the art of I this great modern Master, who in due time was to be Sir Christopher Wren's guiding inspiration when after the London fire in 1666 he designed not only St. Paul's but more than a hundred other buildings, a few of them in America.
That ferment of interest in the Italian, or, as it was popularly called, Classical style, may well have helped to prepare the way for the renaissance of Speculative Freemasonry, and Palladion as the original source of that interest.
Dr. James Anderson "wrote" the 1723 and 1738 editions of the Book of Constitutions for the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717 but it is impossible to discover who was responsible for the materials in either; perhaps many Brethren were; whoever it was he (or they) makes it clear in the 1738 edition that Freemasonry mas in the Craft's mind, twenty-one years after the formation of Grand Lodge, still identified closely with architectures for he goes out of his way to remark that, "In the last Reign sundry of the 50 new Churches in the Suburbs of London were built in a fine Stile upon the Parliamentary Fund, particularly the b beautiful St. Mary be Strand." The "fine stile" was the Palladian; and in another connection it is made clear that the Freemasons at the time not only did not guess that the old Operatives had been builders of Gothic, but even dismissed Gothic as a barbarous thing.
This enthusiasm for the art of Palladio extended even into the Lodges, a representative instance being given in the records of that remarkable Lodge, The Old Kings' Arms Lodge, I\'o. 28, which was warranted in 1725; in a Minute for August 1, 1737, it is recorded: "Passed that a part of the Palladio's Architecture be read instead of the Laws or Constitutions." In the Inventory of the same Lodge is an entry dated in 1737: " 1st book of Palladio's Architecture, in English"; in 1739: "Three remaining books of Palladio's Architecture. "
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