At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Jacopo Sansovino – architect

Death of the designer praised by Palladio


A portrait of Sansovino by Tintoretto, currently  housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
A portrait of Sansovino by Tintoretto, currently
 housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Jacopo d’Antonio Sansovino, the sculptor and architect renowned for his works around Piazza San Marco, died on this day in 1570 in Venice.

He designed the Libreria Sansoviniana in the Piazzetta, which was later praised by the architect Andrea Palladio as ‘the finest building erected since antiquity’.

Sansovino had been born Jacopo Tatti in 1486 in Florence and was apprenticed to the sculptor Andrea Sansovino, whose surname he subsequently adopted.

He was commissioned to make a marble sculpture of St James for the Duomo and a Bacchus, which is now in the Bargello in Florence.

However, his designs for sculptures to adorn the façade of the Church of San Lorenzo were rejected by Michelangelo, who was in charge of the scheme.

In 1529 Sansovino became chief architect to the Procurators of San Marco, making him one of the most influential artists in Venice.

The Palazzo Corner della Ca'Grande was the first building in Venice designed by Sansovino
The Palazzo Corner della Ca'Grande was the first
building in Venice designed by Sansovino
His first Venetian building was the Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande, a huge classical palace for one of the richest families in Venice.

Sansovino designed the Loggetta and its sculptures adjoining the Campanile and statues for the Basilica of San Marco. He also helped rebuild many of the churches and palaces in Venice.

His masterpiece is considered to be the library building in the Piazzetta, which houses the national library of San Marco, the Biblioteca Marciana.

Construction began in 1537 opposite the Doge’s palace and it became one of the most richly decorated Renaissance structures in Venice, surmounted by statues of mythological gods.

During the construction, the roof vaulting collapsed and at the time Sansovino was blamed and imprisoned. He was freed only after appeals from eminent people in Venice, including the artist Titian.

After Sansovino’s death in Venice in 1570 he was buried in St Mark’s Basilica.

The Libreria Sansoviniana, which houses the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, is considered Sansovino's masterpiece
The Libreria Sansoviniana, which houses the Biblioteca
Nazionale Marciana, is considered Sansovino's masterpiece
Travel tip:

The National Library of St Mark’s, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, is housed in the Renaissance building designed by Sansovino opposite the Doge’s Palace in the Piazzetta. It is one of the earliest surviving public manuscript depositories in the country holding one of the greatest collections of classical texts in the world. The library is named after Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. One of the first librarians was poet and scholar Pietro Bembo, who had earlier written beautiful love letters to Lucrezia Borgia while they were having an affair.

Travel tip:

Sansovino was buried in the beautifully decorated Baptistery of Saint Mark’s near the altar. The Baptistery was built on to the southern end of the church in the first half of the 14th century. In the centre of the room stands a baptismal font in marble and bronze, which was designed by Sansovino.

More reading:


The worldwide influence of the Renaissance giant Titian

Andrea Palladio - the world's favourite architect

The day the Campanile of St Mark's collapsed


Also on this day:



1964: The birth of footballer and manager Roberto Mancini

(Picture credits: Palazzo Corner della Ca'Grande and Libreria Sansoviniana both by Wolfgang Moroder via Wikimedia Commons)


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