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The First Draft of Serlio’s Sixth Book and its Arrival in Britain, c. 1700

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2022


This article explores the provenance of the first draft of Sebastiano Serlio’s sixth book, on dwellings, written in the 1540s. It was acquired by the Avery Library at Columbia University, New York, a century ago and published for the first time in 1978. The article proposes that the manuscript and drawings remained in the vicinity of Paris until the late seventeenth century, when they were mounted and bound into an album that may have been sold by a descendant of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau I, either in Paris or the Netherlands. It goes on to demonstrate that, in the early eighteenth century, the manuscript was owned by Francis Bird, a leading British sculptor of his day, who collaborated with leading architects including Christopher Wren, James Gibbs and, possibly, Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Shorter Notice
© The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain 2022

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