[ Gioseffe ]
(b Padua, ?1575–80; d Padua, 1631).
Italian theorist, architect, cartographer and painter. He was trained by his father Giulio, city architect of Padua, and at the school of Vincenzo Dotto (1572–1629), a Paduan cosmographer and architect in the Palladian tradition. Despite his vast and genuine erudition, Viola Zanini never held an important post and was beset with financial difficulties throughout his life. He worked as an architect and, by necessity, as a painter of architectural perspectives; none of his work has survived, however, apart from the Palazzo Cumano in Padua (1628–31; now Liceo Ippolito Nievo), which is generally attributed to him. His town plan of Padua, drawn in 1599, was widely imitated, and his treatise on architecture (1629) brought him fame. The organization of topics seems to have been influenced in particular by Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, while its architectural forms were inspired by Vitruvius and the writings and buildings of Andrea Palladio. Viola Zanini’s work differed from these sources, however, in omitting all considerations of urban planning, ethics and aesthetics. Dry, schematic in content and limited in its aspirations, his work reflects the transition from Renaissance expository writing to the purely technical works that began to appear in the 17th century....