The single greatest influence on Jefferson’s design principles was the 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio. Although Jefferson never saw a single building by Palladio, his published text I quattro libri dell’architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) was regarded by Jefferson as the “Bible” of architecture. That Jefferson himself owned five different editions of the text indicates both his own enthusiasm as well as the general prestige that Palladio had at the time. His architecture, known primarily through the Four Books, had already been introduced to England in the 17th century by Inigo Jones and spawned the Palladian movement. The French Neoclassicism that Jefferson admired was likewise influenced, directly or indirectly, by Palladio. The associations with classical principles, Renaissance humanism, and Enlightenment rationalism – not to mention an aesthetic of simple elegance – made Palladio and Palladian-inspired architecture a natural choice for Jefferson.

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