1691 – 1736
Who was Alessandro Galilei?
Alessandro Maria Gaetano Galilei was a Florentine mathematician, architect and theorist, a member of the same patrician family as Galileo. He received architectural and engineering training from Anton Maria Ferri, an outstanding figure of the Accademia dei Nobili, who lectured and wrote a treatise on perspective, fortifications and artillery. With him young Galilei worked on the study of building techniques, stereometry, hydraulics.
Visiting English milordi were impressed with the classicism of his early designs, and he was invited by a party of English to London in 1714. There he participated in a variety of architectural projects, most notably collaborating with the civic engineer Nicholas Dubois. The only other notable Italian architect in London at the time was Giacomo Leoni. The two architects shared a classicising bent that appealed to the English but was at odds with current Baroque architectural practice in Italy. Nevertheless, aside from a funerary monument, no major commissions were forthcoming.
In 1718 Robert, Viscount Molesworth employed Galilei in Ireland. There, when William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the richest man in Ireland was just beginning to build Castletown House, near Dublin in County Kildare, he met Galilei. Galilei designed the façade of the main block of Castletown, the grandest Palladian house in Ireland, but returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house, which was begun in 1722 and carried through by the young Anglo-Irish architect Edward Lovett Pearce, who met Galilei in Florence while he was making drawings of Palladio's villa on his tour of Italy. and would introduce Neo-Palladian architecture in Ireland. A portrait of Galilei by Giuseppe Berti, signed and dated 1735, has recently been purchased for Castletown House.
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