Acqua Terra Fuoco
Architettura industriale nel Veneto del Rinascimento
Palladio Museum, 12 novembre 2022 – 12 marzo 2023
a cura di Deborah Howard

Acqua Terra Fuoco

Palladio lived through a remarkable period of innovation in the Veneto, not only in architecture but in every sector of the economy. Recent historical research has highlighted the involvement of many of Palladio’s patrons in the silk trade, but this exhibition presents to the public an even richer creative context. There were not only flour-mills and silk-mills, but also woollen mills, sawmills, forges, foundries, lime-kilns, leather tanneries, mines, and mills for crushing stones.

At the same time, in the second half of the sixteenth century the number of patent applications for new mechanical inventions submitted to the Venetian Senate increased dramatically. The inventors came not only from the Veneto but also from elsewhere in Italy and other European countries, to make the Venetian Republic a hub of international exchange in new technologies.

In particular these entrepreneurs took advantage of the new spirit of innovation to expand the use of water power. The existence of a line of natural springs across the foothills of the Alps between Brescia and Udine provided the ideal context for new industrial mills, because spring-fed waterways remained constant all year round in both temperature and volume.

This exhibition traces the expansion into the countryside of a range of industries previously powered by men or animals and mainly confined to the cities. The beautiful sites examined in the course of our research will be exhibited through artefacts of the period, films, paintings, drawings, maps, early printed books and manuscripts, all displayed within a lively, engaging design setting.

The exhibition will allow us to reassess in our own time:

  • The importance of the proto-industrial heritage of the region
  • The use of economical and traditional building materials
  • The potential of renewable, clean energy
  • The role of the Veneto as a centre of commercial innovation

Deborah Howard
22 September 2022