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​The façade of Villa Emo

Like in Villa Barbaro in Maser, which is of the same period and not very far, the pediment’s gable in Villa Emo is decorated by the sculptor from the Trentino region, Alessandro Vittoria. The approach of the sculptor for Villa Barbaro, is very different to that for Villa Emo. At Villa Barbaro the sculptor opted for a majestic solution outside the geometric and spatial canons, probably on request of the learned owners, the brothers Daniele and Marcantonio Barbaro, with two significantly projecting sculptures and the inclusion of an inscription in the lintel of the gable, whereas at villa Emo his intervention was more contained and balanced.

The central part of Villa Emo is slightly projecting with respect to the axis of the two barchesse and is characterized by the distinctive features of the classical façade, like the pronaos of a typical Greek temple, that is the four Doric columns and the decorated pediment. The pronaos is simple with no decorations, almost to match the formal neatness typical of the Doric order, while the pediment boasts the decoration of two winged Victories who hold the coat of arms of the Emo family, which is also visible inside the villa and is characterized by four slanted stripes alternatively coloured red and silver. The same colouring, though in a fainter manner, is present in the sculpture by Vittoria and all together it represents the only exterior and interior element of sculptural decoration in the architectural plan designed by Andrea Palladio for Villa Emo.

In the Four Books Palladio explains the reasons for the transposition of this sacralizing element in a private residence stating that: such frontispieces mark the entrance of the house and are necessary for the grandeur and magnificence of the building which thus has a front part more outstanding than the other parts. Besides they are very useful to bear the coats of arms which are usually placed in the middle of the façades.