Sebastiano Serlio

Definition

Theater

  • (1475 - 1554) Italian painter and architect, who was thefirst scenic artist to publish his drawings. They appeared in 1545in the second part of his L'Architettura, translated into Englishas The Second Book of Architecture in 1611. Serlio's designsdominated the European stage for some 400 years. His ideas were followedby Inigo Jones, Molière, and others, and copies of his setsappeared as late as the 19th century in scenery for melodramas.

    Serlio designed for temporary theaters set up in aristocraticbanqueting halls. He was a clever fund-raiser among his patrons, explaining:

    The more costly these things are, the more they are worthyof praise, because in truth they then express the generosity of richlords and their enmity to ugly stinginess.

    His sets featured wooden or painted canvas houses with a paintedbackcloth behind. In his book he illustrated three types of perspectiveset, each of which featured central avenues with houses or trees oneither side: the scena tragica depicted palaces, the scenacomica had city houses, and the scena satyrica portrayeda landscape of trees, hills, and cottages.

    Another section of Serlio's book concerned lighting, includingcoloured light, sunshine, and moonlight. Among his suggestions forthe production of red lighting on stage was a bottle of red wine placedin front of a torch. He also dealt with the creation of thunder andlightning effects. see also scenery; set.

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