Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (7 March 1481-6 January 1537) was an Italian architect and painter, born in the small town of Ancaiano near Siena and died in Rome. He worked for many years, beginning in 1520, under Bramante, Raphael, and later Sangallo during the erection of the new St. Peter's. He returned to his native Siena after the Sack of Rome (1527) where he was employed as architect to the Republic. For the Sienese he built new fortifications for the city and designed (though did not build) a remarkable dam on the Bruna River near Giuncarico. He seems to have moved back to Rome by 1535.

`MOST WORTHY SIR,' begins a letter of 1915, written to the biographer of Baldassare Peruzzi by one of his descendants. It continued: 'Baldassare Peruzzi was born at Ancaiano and there still remains an old tower where tradition says he lived. The local church is not the work of Peruzzi, but of Fontana who designed also, in 1667, the villa of Cetinale, belonging to the Chigi family. The Villa of Vico Bello (near Siena) always of the house of Chigi, was built from the designs of Peruzzi. Greetings from thy friend, Cesare Peruzzi, Tobacconist.'

Peruzzi was a true artist of the Renaissance, at once an architect, painter and theatrical designer, credited with the invention of movable scenery, renowned for his passion for medieval architecture and a master of perspective and quadratura. Though Baldassare Peruzzi's artistic versatility was not uncommon in the 1500s, he was most successful as a draftsman and architect. An early promoter of axonometric drawing, he made much-admired studies of antique buildings. Many of his painted house facades, all now destroyed, were meant to look like grand "ancient" sculptural facades, wittily combining his characteristic illusionism with antique themes.

Upon arriving in Rome from Siena in 1502, Peruzzi revived illusionistic classical mural painting and painted theater perspectives later used in a treatise on architecture. In 1515 he designed a new facade for Bologna Cathedral and later worked on a church, chapel, and palazzo in the town. When Raphael died in 1520, Peruzzi succeeded him as architect of Saint Peter's basilica in Rome, using drawing as a tool to understand and further develop the existing plans.

During the Sack of Rome in 1527, he was imprisoned and tortured by the Spaniards and returned to Siena, Vasari recounts, with `nothing but his shirt'. He was appointed architect to the Republic and made superintendent in charge of the fortifications of the city, He devised a minting machine, and constructed several villas. He also designed a dome and altar for the modernization of Siena Cathedral and reconstructed a dam. He was a painter of frescoes in the Cappella San Giovanni in the Duomo of Siena. he received several commissions from the Chigi family, including Vicobello, which he designed some time between 1528 and 1531 before returning to Rome to make his last great opus, the curving Palace of Massimi alle Collone.

His son Giovanni Sallustio was also an architect.

Design and decoration of Villa Farnesina
Almost all art critics ascribe also to him the design of the originally Villa Chigi, now Villa Farnesina. In this villa, two wings branch off from a central hall with a simple arrangement of pilasters, and a decorative frieze on the exterior of the building. The frescoed paintings which adorn the interior rooms are for the most part by Peruzzi. The decoration of the fa├žade, the work of Peruzzi, has almost entirely vanished. To decorate this villa on the Tiber many artists were employed, and just as the style of the villa in no wise recalls the old castellated type of country-house, so the paintings in harmony with the pleasure-loving spirits of the time were thoroughly antique and uninspired by Christian ideas. Raphael designed the composition of the story of Amor and Psyche as a continuation of the Galatea. On a plate-glass vault Peruzzi painted the firmament, with the zodiacal signs, the planets, and other heavenly bodies. The interior room has a striking use of illusionistic perspective

Other work
The close proximity of Raphael's work has overshadowed Peruzzi's work in the ceiling decoration of the Stanza d'Eliodoro in the Vatican. While Raphael may have designed the general plan for the decoration of the hall, it is certain that the tapestry-like frescoes on the ceiling are to be ascribed to Peruzzi. Four scenes represent God's saving omnipotence as shown in the case of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. The manifestation of the Lord in the burning bush and the figure of Jehovah commanding Noah to enter the ark were formerly considered works of Raphael.

Peruzzi had produced for the church of S. Croce in Jerusalem a mosaic ceiling, the beautiful keystone of which represented the Saviour. Other paintings ascribed to him are to be found in S. Onofrio and S. Pietro in Montorio. That Peruzzi improved as time went on is evident in his later works, e.g., the "Madonna with Saints" in S. Maria della Pace at Rome, and the fresco of Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl in Fontegiusta at Siena. As our master interested himself in the decorative art also, he exercised a strong influence in this direction, not only by his own decorative paintings but also by furnishing designs for craftsmen of various kinds.

His final architectural masterpiece, the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne (1535) located on the modern day Corso Vittorio Emanuele, is well known for its curving facade, ingenious planning, and architecturally rich interior.