BERTOTTI SCAMOZZI, Ottavio
(b. 1719, Vicenza, d. 1790, Vicenza)

Biography

Italian architect and theorist. He was the son of Antonio Bertotti, a local barber, and Vittoria Scabora; through the patronage of Marchese Mario Capra, an amateur poet and architect, he was able to study architecture in the private school opened in Vicenza in 1748 by Domenico Cerato (1720-1792), and he became curator of the Accademia Olimpica in 1753. This gave him a small annual income and the use of the house attached to the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, for which he was responsible for the maintenance. For the rest of his life Bertotti Scamozzi superintended the restoration works on the theatre, to which he published an excellent guide in 1790.

In his will the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi had left a legacy for the support of a promising young student of architecture in Vicenza. As executor the Marchese Capra awarded this to Bertotti, who added Scamozzi to his name in accord with the provisions of the will.

Doyen of the Palladian Revival in Italy, he edited Palladio's work, producing the important Le fabbriche e i disegni di Andrea Palladio raccolti e illustrati (The Buildings and Designs of Andrea Palladio collected and illustrated, 1776-83) and Le terme dei Romani, disegnate da A. Palladio (The Baths of Rome, Drawn by A. Palladio, 1785), publications which have tended to obscure his own architectural significance. He was well-connected, and knew such figures as Algarotti and Quarenghi, while he seems to have been sought-after as a cicerone by those cognoscenti on the Grand Tour, and produced a guide-book to the architectural sights of Vicenza in 1761.

More than 30 architectural works, both executed and unexecuted, are attributed to Bertotti Scamozzi. Most of these are restorations and reconstructions of older buildings in Vicenza and the surrounding area, largely commissioned by the bourgeois and neo-aristocratic classes. Bertotti Scamozzi's architecture was distinguished by his ability to use the architectural language of Palladio in a simple and sober manner, but with grace and elegance, and to adapt it when necessary to small spaces and limited economic resources. Later he designed a series of country residences near Vicenza.

His buildings in and around Vicenza, unsurprisingly, are strongly influenced by Palladianism: his Casa Muzzi, Riello (1770), is clearly based on the Villino Cerato di Montecchio Precalcino (1540s), while the Palazzo Franceschini, Vicenza (1770), though essentially Palladian in composition, betrays certain tentative aspects of Neo-Classicism. In the last decade of his life his work became more severe and bare (e.g. Palazzo Braghetta sul Corso (1780) and Teatro Eretenio (1781-84).