Sebastiano Serlio

Italian Renaissance architect and set designer


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Birth and Death

Serlio was born on September 6, 1475 in Bologna, Italy and died in 1554 in Paris, France.

Locations Throughout Serlio's Life

Serlio spent much of his life in Rome, Bologna and Venice. He also lived and died in Paris until 1554.


Serlio was trained to be an architect, consultant and a set designer in 1514 by Baldassare Peruzzi. He did not receive other training.

Types of Art

Serlio created architecture and theatre sets. He also wrote D’Architettura, a compilation of his advancements in Renaissance theatre. Book Two of D’Architettura was associated with the perspective and illusional values presented by the theatre sets. Lastly, Serlio had many, many plans and sketches for auditoriums and sets for theatres. (One is not specifically named as there are far too many.)


Serlio’s life was heavily involved with the advancement of Italian Renaissance theatre. He was one of the key figures in developing the accepted methods of designing sets and other aspects of theatre. At the end of his life, he lost popularity, influence and money and died in Paris.


No patrons are specifically named, however, one can assume that his teacher, Baldassare Peruzzi supported his architectural and theatrical projects.


What, When and Where

The piece is titled "Designs for the Decoration of Flat Wooden Ceilings".

The piece has no known creation date, but was published in Book Four in 1562.

You are likely to see this piece in Book Four of D’Architettura.

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Significance of the Piece

Alone, there is not much significance of this piece, as it is the design for a ceiling. There were many different techniques used, such as shading to give depth or roundness. Also, there are several representations of nature shown in the drawing, such as flowers and leaves. However, no new techniques were used in the development of this drawing.

Why do I Like this Piece?

Personally, I like this drawing because of the many different things shown in it, although they are still somewhat connected. The flowers, leaves, human forms and water are all natural objects shown in different ways, but each relates to the other in each sector of the drawing. This, with the addition of the depth added by shading and carefully placed, different-sized lines makes the drawing appeal greatly to me.

How Does Sebastiano Serlio and his Art Relate to the "isms"?

This drawing is most closely related to naturalism. This is because of the objects found in the sectors of the drawing, being water, flowers, leaves and humans. All of these objects represent nature in a way. Also, the style it was drawn in gives it a great deal of depth and texture.

Serlio himself was related to illusionism and perspectivism. Aside from architecture, Serlio assisted other great artists in designing and building theatre sets. When he first shows his sets to the audience, he presented them in such a way that they looked like they had depth and so they looked real while complementing their illusional values. He also relates to illusionism because of the way his sets are meant to look. They were designed to make people look into a central vanishing point. This gave the illusion that the audience was looking into a three-dimensional object rather than a painting.

Additional Information and Fun Facts

Serlio originally trained to be an architect, but became a set designer instead. Alongside sets, he also worked on lighting for the sets. One of the most important things that Serlio accomplished was sketching the sizes and shapes of the auditoriums most appropriate for his sets. These sketches showed how they worked well with each set as well as where the different ranks of people would sit. Sebastiano Serlio was one of the most significant figures in Italian Renaissance theatre because of his work with sets and lighting.

Works Cited

" Sebastiano Serlio." Artstor. Artstor, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"Sebastiano Serlio." International Dictionary of Theatre. Vol. 3. Gale, 1996. Biography in Context. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"Sebastiano Serlio | Italian Architect." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

"Sebastiano Serlio." Sebastiano Serlio. Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Serlio, Sebastiano. Designs for the Decoration of Flat Wooden Ceilings. n.d. Sketch. D’Architettura.

Note: There were not many specific details known about Serlio, so I gave as much detail as I could for the birth date and other information similar to that.