Showing posts with label 1461. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1461. Show all posts

19 February 2020

Domenico Grimani - cardinal and art collector

Owned works by Da Vinci, Titian and Raphael among others


Lorenzo Lotto's portrait of Cardinal Domenico Grimani, painted in the 16th century
Lorenzo Lotto's portrait of Cardinal Domenico
Grimani, painted in the 16th century
The Venetian cardinal Domenico Grimani, whose vast art collection now forms part of the Museo d'Antichità in the Doge's Palace in Venice, was born on this day in 1461.

Grimani acquired works among others by Italian Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, Titian and Raphael, as well as by Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch, two of the great Early Netherlandish painters of the 15th century.

He also owned the illustrated manuscript that became known as the Grimani Breviary, produced in Ghent and Bruges between 1510 and 1520, which is considered one of the most important  works of Flemish art from the Renaissance period. 

Gerard David, Gerard Horenbout, Simon Bening and other illustrators contributed to the work, which was acquired by Grimani for 500 gold ducats, and subsequently bequeathed to the Venetian Republic.  It is now housed in the Biblioteca Marciana, opposite the Doge’s Palace.

Domenico also began the collection of Greek and Roman antiquities that was subsequently expanded by his nephew, Giovanni, and now kept in the Palazzo Grimani museum, near Campo Santa Maria Formosa in the Castello District.

Grimani's father, Antonio, a wealthy merchant who was elected Doge of Venice
Grimani's father, Antonio, a wealthy
merchant who became Doge of Venice
Grimani was the eldest of five sons of Antonio Grimani, a merchant who had grown wealthy through the spice trade and would be elected as the oldest Doge of Venice in 1521 at the age of 87. His mother was Catarina Loredan, who came from another noble Venetian family.

After showing an early interest in humanist studies, Domenico moved to the Medicean academy in Florence, where he became part of the circle of Lorenzo de' Medici and associated with scholars such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano. He obtained a doctorate in canon law at the University of Padua in 1487 and was elected a Senator of Venice that same year.

He became a cardinal in 1493, an appointment paid for by his father. He was not ordained a priest until 1498, becoming cardinal priest of San Marco after the election of Pope Julius II in 1503.

Other titles he held during his life included apostolic administrator in Nicosia, Patriarch of Aquileia, cardinal bishop of Albano, administrator of the diocese of Urbino and Bishop of Ceneda.

He died in 1523. Initially buried in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome, his remains were later moved to San Francesco della Vigna in Venice.

In addition to his fascination with art and antiquities, which began when he stumbled upon buried Roman remains while building a villa and a vineyard in Rome, Domenico also wrote several theological treatises.

The entrance to the Palazzo Grimani in Venice, which now houses a museum
The entrance to the Palazzo Grimani in
Venice, which now houses a museum
Travel tip:

The Palazzo Grimani was built at the confluence of the canals of San Severo and Santa Maria Formosa. Purchased by Antonio Grimani, it was  passed on as a legacy to his grandsons Vettore Grimani, Procurator de Supra for the Venetian Republic, and Giovanni Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia, who refurbished the old structure inspired by architectural models taken from classicism. In 1558, at the death of Vettore, Giovanni became the sole owner of the building, in which he set up his collection of antiques, including sculptures, marbles, vases, bronzes and gems.  Until 1865, the palace was the property of the Santa Maria Formosa branch of the Grimani family but it later deteriorated and passed through several owners until it was bought by the city in 1981. After a long period of restoration, it was opened to the public in December 2008.

The Piazzetta San Marco, with the Doge's Palace on the  left and the Biblioteca Marciana opposite
The Piazzetta San Marco, with the Doge's Palace on the
left and the Biblioteca Marciana opposite
Travel tip:

The Doge’s Palace - Palazzo Ducale in Italian - is the former seat of the Government of Venice and the home of the Doge from the early days of the republic. For centuries this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo. The others were merely called Cà, short for Casa. The current palazzo was built in the 12th century in Venetian Gothic style, one side looking out over the lagoon, the other side looking out over the piazzetta that links St Mark’s Square with the waterfront. It opened as a museum in 1923 and is now run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.  The Biblioteca Marciana sits opposite, across the Piazzetta.

Also on this day:

1743: The birth of composer Luigi Boccherini

1953: The birth of actor and director Massimo Troisi

1977: The birth of opera singer Vittorio Grigolo


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3 May 2017

Raffaele Riario – Cardinal

Patron of arts linked with murder conspiracies


Raffaele Riario captured in Raphael's 1512 painting of Mass at Bolsena
Raffaele Riario captured in Raphael's 1512
painting of Mass at Bolsena
Renaissance Cardinal Raffaele Riario was born Raffaele Sansoni Galeoti Riario on this day in 1461 in Savona.

A patron of the arts, he is remembered for inviting Michelangelo to Rome and commissioning Palazzo della Cancelleria to be built. He was also embroiled in murder conspiracies which nearly cost him his life.

Although Riario was born in poverty, his mother was a niece of Francesco della Rovere, who became Pope Sixtus IV in 1471.

As a relative of the Pope he was created a Cardinal in 1477 and was named administrator of several dioceses, which gave him a good income at the age of 16, while he was studying canon law at the University of Pisa.

On his way to Rome in 1478, Riario stopped off in Florence, where he became a witness to the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici. The Pazzi family wanted to replace the Medici as rulers of Florence. They attempted to assassinate Lorenzo, who was wounded but survived, and his brother Giuliano, who was killed, while they were attending mass in the Duomo. The conspirators were caught and executed and Riario was also arrested because he was related to Girolamo Riario, his uncle, who was one of the masterminds behind the plot. However, Lorenzo arranged for him to be released a few weeks later.

Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de' Medici, murdered in the Pazzi conspiracy
Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de'
Medici, murdered in the Pazzi conspiracy
In 1480 Riario was ordained a priest and received the entitlement of San Lorenzo in Damaso. He commissioned a palace to be built next to the church for his personal residence.

Riario became involved in the war between the Orsini family and the Colonna family four years later. He tried in vain to save the life of one of his friends, who was charged with murdering one of the Orsini, but the friend was executed on the orders of Pope Sixtus IV.

In the Conclave of 1492 he voted for Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, and was rewarded with a lucrative bishopric for his support. He went on to gain distinction as a diplomat during the Borgia pope’s reign.

A lover of art and sculpture, Riario’s large palace was influenced by Florentine architecture. He noticed the talent of the young Michelangelo and invited him to Rome, where Michelangelo was to work on the major pieces of his career.

In 1517 there was a conspiracy to murder Pope Leo X and although Riario did not participate in it, he is believed to have been aware of it and done nothing to prevent it.

Leo arrested the conspirators and ordered their execution but Riario saved himself by giving his palace next to San Lorenzo in Damaso to the pope.

It became the seat of the Apostolic Chancery and was known thereafter as Palazzo della Cancelleria.

Riario died in Naples at the age of 60 and was buried in a tomb in Basilica dei Santi Apostoli in Rome.

The Palazzo della Cancelleria is believed to be the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome
The Palazzo della Cancelleria is believed to be the
earliest Renaissance palace in Rome
Travel tip:

The Palazzo della Cancelleria, the Papal Chancellery, is believed to be the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. It was designed by Donato Bramante and built between 1489 and 1513 as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario. The rumour was that the funds for the build came from a single night’s gambling winnings. The palace is now a property of the Holy See and has been designated a World Heritage Site. Just to the south of the square named after the palace, Piazza della Cancelleria, is the Campo dè Fiori, the site of a market in Rome for centuries, which has plenty of bars and restaurants and is a popular nightspot when the markets stalls have all been packed away.

Savona's baroque Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta
Savona's baroque Cattedrale di Nostra
Signora Assunta
Travel tip:

Savona is the third largest city in Liguria and the fifth largest port in Italy yet its reputation as a sprawling industrial zone is unfair. It has an attractive medieval centre, with an elegant baroque Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta, behind which is Italy’s other Sistine Chapel, like the Rome version erected by Pope Sixtus IV. Fishing boats share the harbour with expensive yachts and there is a good beach within walking distance of the centre. In between the beach and the harbour is the 16th century Priamar fortress, which served as a prison during most of the 19th century.

More reading:


Girolamo Riario and the plot to overthrow the Medicis

How Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo's greatest work

Why the Renaissance pope Leo X supported the arts


Also on this day:


1469: The birth of statesman and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli

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