Digital Serlio: Manuscripts

For the convenience of scholars, this page aggregates digital versions of all extant manuscripts by Sebastiano Serlio, beginning with Avery’s own manuscript for Serlio’s sixth book. In each instance, we have clearly indicated the holding institution and links will take the viewer to external sites maintained by each repository.

A sixteenth-century Italian architect and theoretician, Sebastiano Serlio was influential in canonizing the classical orders of architecture as the author of seven books on architecture, collectively known as Tutte l'opere d'architettura. The sixth book in the series, On Domestic Architecture, was not published in Serlio's lifetime but survived in manuscript form. In this volume, Serlio created the first typology of Western domestic architecture. His designs accommodated every strata of society from the poor, to the emerging bourgeoisie, to the nobility.

Avery Manuscript - AA520 SE619F

Serlio Book VI Plate 47 Serlio Book VI, Plate 47

(Tutte l'opere d'architettura, Libro VI), c.1550.

In 1924, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library acquired the earliest version of the manuscript for Serlio’s sixth book. The digital files presented here comprise recto, verso and selected watermarks representing 73 original plates, and provide an exceptional opportunity to view this rare manuscript in great detail.

Munich Manuscript - BSB Cod.icon. 189


Serlio, Sebastiano: Sesto libro d'architettura. Delle habitationi fuori e dentrodelle città, Lyon, 1547 – 1550.

Serlio created a revised version of his manuscript for the sixth book, executed on vellum and intended for presentation to King Henry II. This volume is now held at the Bayerische Staatbibliothek in Munich.

Vienna Printer’s Proofs - 72.P.20


Plusieurs dessins d'architecture ... lesquels il avoit promis au commencement de son quatriesme livre, quo devoit faire son sixiesme, 1600.

The Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna possesses a later set of woodcuts, printed on 17th-century paper, believed to be printer’s proofs of the illustrations for the Sixth Book. The National Library of Austria partnered with Google to produce the digital version linked to above.

Jacopo Strada published Serlio's seventh book posthumously in 1575. The volume addressed unusual aspects of architectural design including irregular lots and pre-existing structures. It also included a series of ornamental designs for fireplaces and chimneys and illustrations of roof trusses. The manuscript’s illustrations vary significantly from the woodcuts published by Strada.

Vienna MS


Settimo libro d'architettura, 1542.

This manuscript is housed in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, along with the printer's proof of the sixth book. As with the printer's proofs of the sixth book, the National Library partnered with Google to produce this digital version of the manuscript.


Serlio also produced a manuscript on military architecture that included a restoration of a Roman military camp based on Polybius’s text. This manuscript was never published and appears to be in addition to the seven books Serlio promised readers in his preface to Book IV.

Munich Manuscript - BSB Cod.icon. 190


Ottavo libro d'architettura. Della castrametatione di Polybio, 1551-1554.

This manuscript is held at the Bayerische Staatbibliothek in Munich.

Serlio's volume devoted to portals was published posthumously in 1551 in Lyon. It is often included in the collected works of Serlio as Book VI, but that designation was given by the publishers and not by Serlio.

Augsburg Manuscript - SUSTB Augsburg 2 Cod 496 (CIM 116)

Augsburg Manuscript Page 1

Extraordinario libro di architettura, C. 1546-1551

This manuscript is held at the Staats- und Stadtbibliothek in Augsburg.