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date: 15 October 2019

Bricci, Plautillalocked

(b Rome, Aug 13, 1616; d after 1690).
  • John Varriano

Extract

(b Rome, Aug 13, 1616; d after 1690).

Italian architect and painter. She was the first woman to practise architecture whose reputation has survived to the present day. Her father, Giovanni Bricci (1579–1645), was a painter and musician, and her brother Basilio Bricci (1621–92) was himself an architect and painter. The full extent of her activities remains to be explored, but two commissions in Rome stand out. The first of these, the Villa Benedetti (destr. 1849), near the Porta S Pancrazio on the Janiculum Hill, was begun in 1663 for Elpidio Benedetti, agent to Cardinal Jules Mazarin in Rome. The structure if not all of the decoration was completed by 1665. Benedetti was so pleased with the result that in 1677 he published a guidebook to the villa (under an assumed name) giving detailed descriptions and views of the building along with an account of the roles played by Plautilla and her brother, with whom it is said she collaborated. According to Benedetti, Basilio was responsible for most of the architecture of the villa, while Plautilla embellished the interior with numerous allegorical and religious paintings. However, the building contracts and several preparatory drawings (all Rome, Archv Stato) make it clear that it was, in fact, Plautilla who designed the building with little if any creative input from Basilio. Possibly Benedetti was embarrassed to admit that his villa had been designed by a woman. The architecture of the Villa Benedetti, as recorded in views made before ...

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Dizionario biografico degli italiani (Rome, 1960–)