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Digital Serlio Project

Small House for a King (Plate XXXIX), Sebastiano Serlio, VIII libro di Serlio: m.s. architettura, ca. 1550. Credit: Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University

A sixteenth-century Italian architect and theoretician, Serlio was influential in standardizing the classical orders as the author of the first illustrated treatise on ancient Roman architecture. Appointed supervisor of royal buildings by the French King François I, he worked on the palace of Fontainebleau and built the chateau at Ancy-le-Franc for Antoine III de Clermont, one of the king’s courtiers.

Funding from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust permits the Italian Academy to participate in this project at Columbia’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, which will digitize Avery’s unparalleled holdings of the published works of Sebastiano Serlio (1474–1554) along with the unpublished manuscript, On Domestic Architecture (Tutte l’opere d’architettura, Libro VI), also held in Avery’s collection. The digitized texts will be made available on Avery’s website and through the Columbia University Libraries online catalog, the Internet Archive, the HathiTrust, and the Getty Research Portal.

An international team of scholars, students and staff will work collaboratively to conduct textual and visual analysis using high-resolution images of Serlio’s On Domestic Architecture manuscript, which was intended as the sixth of his seven volumes on architecture. The Digital Serlio Project team will implement the Getty Scholars’ Workspace™ for some aspects of the work. The Workspace provides an online platform for the scholars to leverage innovative digital tools to advance research and inspire scholarship on this singularly important and foundational masterwork of architectural history.


Initial funding for research and scholarship is provided by a grant from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust.


An international team of scholars is coordinated by Prof. Francesco Benelli, while scholars and staff at the Avery Library direct the effort in collaboration with the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), and the Italian Academy, all at Columbia, as well as the University of Bologna and the École nationale des Chartes. Digital photography and project support are provided by the Avery Digital Lab and (also within Columbia's Libraries) the Digital Program Division and the Preservation and Digital Conversion Division.