Architect and artist Giulio Pippi, nicknamed Romano (“the Roman”), was born in Rome around 1499. At a very young age, he trained in Raphael’s workshop. He worked on constructing Palazzo Madama, which Raphael designed. Probably around this time, his imagination was unleashed to form his highly original conception of architecture.
He did his first work in Rome: Palazzo Salviati on Via della Lungara, Palazzo Maccarani, and Baldassarre Turini’s villa. His particular style is evident even in these early works: a dialogue between classical and non-classical forms, tectonic and atectonic elements, and a freedom of architectural language.
In 1524, on the recommendation of Baldassarre Castiglione, the Duke of Mantua, Federico II Gonzaga, invited Giulio Romano to Mantua, where he remained until his death in 1546. His most notable work in Mantua is Palazzo Tè, the summer palace of the Gonzaga family. It is considered the first major representative of the Mannerist style in architecture, sculpture, and statuary.
Giulio Romano dedicated his last years to churches: he was entrusted with renovating San Benedetto di Polirone and the interior of Mantua Cathedral. Giulio Romano’s original style and sense of aesthetics made him a stand-alone figure in architectural history, although his work gained recognition quickly and Palazzo Tè became a model for his fellow architects.