Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Italian Renaissance - Venice

( Originally Published 1921 )



PIETRO LOMBARDO (A.D. 14351515) was one of a family who impressed their personality on the architecture of the sea-girt city.

The Doge's Palace, Venice, commenced in the Mediaeval period (p. 504), was continued at this time. The Cortile (A.D. 1486) (p. 591), by Ant. Rizzi, was continued (A.D. 14991511) by Pietro Lombardo, carried on (A.D. 1520) by Bergamasco, and completed in Renaissance times (A.D. 1550) by Scarpagnino. The Cortile is a free and beautiful example of early Renaissance, with arcaded facades, and with the famous Scala dei Giganti (Giants' Staircase), flanked by Sansovino's figures of Mars and Neptune (p. 591 A, B). The cortile facades vary picturesquely in design, and the pointed arch, although an eminently Gothic feature, is retained in this early Renaissance building (p. 591 B, C, E). The cortile forms an interesting chapter in the history of the wonderful Ducal Palace equally famous for its external Gothic arcades (p. 5o6) and its council chambers, with their elaborate chimney-pieces (p. 6) and with walls and ceilings enriched with paintings by Veronese and Tintoretto. The Bridge of Sighs (p. 591 D), which connects the Doge's Palace and the prison, is a salient external feature, with its elliptical arch, rusticated pilasters, and heraldic devices.

The Palazzo Vendramini, Venice (A.D. 1481) (p. 592), by Pietro Lombardo, is the earliest example in the city of an applique facade, i.e. one in which the architectural treatment stops at the angles. The straight facade (p. 592 D) was governed by the necessity of lining up with the water-way of the Grand Canal. The superimposed attached columns in each storey (p. 592 E), the semicircular window arches (p. 592 F), and the beautiful little balconies (p. 592 G) at the first-floor level are of graceful outline.

The Palazzo Corner Spinelli, Venice (A.D. 1480) (p. 592 B), probably designed by one of the Lombardi family, with its rusticated basements and symmetrical arrangement of windows, is a delightful example of the early Renaissance.

S. Maria dei Miracoli, Venice (A.D. 1480) (p. 595), by Pietro Lombardo, is a marvel of marble work, both within and without. This miniature church has an aisleless nave crowned by a semicircular roof with gilded panels, and the choir over the sacristy is approached by wide steps, flanked by marble balustrades (p. 612 H), and with beautiful pierced screen-work in the sanctuary. The walls are faced internally and externally with coloured marbles. The exterior (p. 595 A), although clothing a one-storeyed structure, is designed with two stages of superimposed pilasters, the upper as a blind arcade recalling Mediaeval treatment, and the whole crowned with a semicircular roof and pediment, a feature which also occurs at S. Zaccaria and the Scuola di S. Marco, and was probably borrowed from the Byzantines, with whom it represented the exterior of their vaults.

S. Zaccaria, Venice (A.D. 14561515), and S. Giobbe, Venice (A.D. 145193), are other transition examples which have many interesting features, and show the Lombardi influence.

S. Salvatore, Venice (A.D. 1530), by Tullio Lombardo, a son of the famous Pietro, has a plan obviously derived from S. Mark's.

The Scuola di S. Marco, Venice (A.D. 148595) (p. 564 B), has a facade by Martino Lombardo, probably founded on that of S. Mark. The ground storey has Corinthian pilasters and some curious perspective reliefs of colonnades, and a doorway with semicircular pediment and acroterion figures, while the upper part of the facade has windows and semicircular pediments, arranged to emphasise the principal doorway beneath.

S. Giorgio dei Greci, Venice (A.D. 1538), by the Lombardi, is a graceful little building of the early period. It has an aisleless plan (p. 595 G), somewhat resembling S. Maria dei Miracoli, and a sanctuary with three small apses. A dome is schemed centrally over the nave (p. 595 H), while the exterior (p. 595 F) has a somewhat unusual treatment, terminating in three pediments, and the group is completed towards the Canal with a lofty campanile (A.D. 1587).

JACOPO SANSOVINO (A.D. 14861570), after studying in Rome as a sculptor, settled in Venice and designed many important buildings.

The Library of S. Mark, Venice (A.D. 1536) (p. 596), designed by Sansovino, is majestic in the matured Renaissance style, and has arcades (p. 596 A, F) with Doric columns and a " piano nobile " with Ionic columns supporting an unusual entablature (p. 596 B, D), which is over one-third the height of the Order, and in which the deep frieze has windows separated by cherubs holding festoons of boldly carved fruit and flowers. The continuation of the design one storey higher round the Piazza of S. Mark was excluded in A.D. 1584 by Scamozzi.

The Zecca, Venice (A.D. 1536), designed by Sansovino, has a peculiar treatment of column rustication, giving a severe appearance in keeping with its purpose as a mint.

The Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande, Venice (A.D. 1532) (p. 592 c), by Sansovino, is a palace design of excellent proportions on an imposing site fronting the Grand Canal. The two lower storeys are rusticated with three central openings flanked by windows in two tiers, while the two upper storeys are faced with the Ionic and Corinthian Orders, and the walls are pierced with semicircular headed windows.

ANDREA PALLADIO (A.D. 1518-80), the greatest architect of the later Renaissance, carried out his principal designs in his native city of Vicenza, to which he thus added the lustre of his fame. The drawings in his published work " I quattro libri dell' Architettura " are not only valuable as records of buildings which no longer exist, but also as showing how assiduously he studied and measured the buildings of antiquity during the years that he spent in Rome. The result of his Classical research can be traced in his designs for buildings both in Venice and Vicenza. They were unfortunately mostly in mean materials, such as brick faced with stucco, and the success he achieved is an instance of how genius can produce works of art out of commonplace materials. Many of his buildings were never completed, but the publication of the designs in his book, first issued in Venice in A.D. 1570, and since published in every country in Europe, has had a far greater influence than have his buildings on architecture ; especially in England, where Palladio had an ardent disciple in Inigo Jones (p. 702), who published an annotated edition of his book.

The Palazzo Time (A.D. 1536), Palazzo Valmarana (A.D. 1536) (p. 598 D), Palazzo Chiericati (A.D. 1560), Palazzo Barbarano (A.D. 1570), Palazzo Capitanio (A.D. 1571), and Casa del Diavolo, Vicenza (p. 598 G) are some of his palace buildings in Vicenza, exhibiting rusticated lower storeys supporting an Order often carried through the height of the building to give unity of design.

The Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza (A.D. 1580), with the permanent stage built in perspective, is an unusual and interesting building, designed by Palladio but completed by Scamozzi.

The Basilica, Vicenza (A.D. 1549) (p. 597), is famous for its Renaissance arcades added by Palladio to the Mediaeval structure erected in A.D. 1444. The plan (p. 597 E) shows the large Mediaeval hall, 173 ft. by 68 ft., with its supporting piers which gave the lines for the Renaissance piers of the surrounding arcades, while the transverse section (p. 597 c) shows the upper floor, which regulated the height of the surrounding Orders. The arcades showing the cross-vaults and the twin columns supporting the arches are very impressive (p. 597 F). Palladio had to adjust the arcades as an outer husk to the width and height of the Gothic building. The end bays on each facade were unrestricted in width, so Palladio made them narrower in order to give an effect of strength at the angles, as had been previously done by the Greeks, e.g. the Parthenon (p. 71). These arcades (p. 597 B), in fine hard stone which has beautifully weathered, consist of lofty superimposed Doric and Ionic Orders which, under the main entablature, frame intervening arches supported on smaller free-standing twin columns, and there are circular openings in the spandrels. This grouping and combination of columns and arches has been termed the " Palladian motif," and is exceedingly effective, especially when seen in conjunction with the slender campanile alongside (p. 597 D). The idea was probably derived from the Gothic arcades of the Town Hall at Padua, or from the arcades surrounding the Basilica Julia, Rome.

The Villa Capra, Vicenza (p. 598), known also as. the Rotonda, with its exaggerated application of Classic features, is a square building with pillared portico on each face, leading to a central circular hall of which only the low dome appears externally above the tiled roof, which is hipped from the angles of the main building. This design was an important departure, and it was utilised by Lord Burlington at Chiswick (p. 734) and by Colin Campbell at Mereworth Castle, Kent (p. 737 G), and has often been copied both in England and on the Continent.

S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (A.D. 1560) (p. 6o1), has a cruciform plan with apsidal transepts. The interior has piers faced with Corinthian columns and the facade, completed by Scamozzi (A.D. 1575), shows the adaptation of Classic Orders to a church of the basilican plan. The church, with pedimented facade, dome, turrets, and campanile, stands picturesquely on an island framed in by the waters of the Lagoon.

Il Redentore, Venice (A.D. 1576) (p. 601), is similar in plan, but there are side chapels in lieu of aisles. In the facade the principal and subsidiary Orders start from the same base, and the aisles are fronted with half-pediments. This church shows how impossible it is to judge a building from a geometrical drawing only, for in a near view (p. 601 J) the dome over the crossing is dwarfed by the long arm of the nave, as in S. Peter, Rome.

S. Francesco della Vigna, Venice (A.D. 153462), by Sansovino, has a facade (A.D. 1562) by Palladio, resembling that of S. Giorgio Maggiore.

SANMICHELI (A.D. 14841549) was distinguished as the originator of a new system of fortifications. The gateways of Verona are excellent instances of his power of giving distinctive character by bold and original treatment of rustication.

The Palazzo Pompei, Verona (A.D. 1530) (p. 602), has a characteristic plan on axial lines, with a central entrance leading to a cortile. A rusticated basement with semicircular windows supports the " piano nobile," with its fluted Doric columns, semicircular windows, and carved masks on keystones (p. 602 c).

The Palazzo Bevilacqua, Verona (A.D. 1527) (p. 602 J), is a pleasing variation on the Palazzo Pompei. The ground storey has rusticated pilasters ; the " piano nobile " has a balustraded balcony, and there are Corinthian half-columns grouped in pairs which also include an upper storey with rectangular windows and an imposing entablature.

The Palazzo dei Diamanti, Verona (A.D. 1582) (p. 602 G), has a facade obviously influenced by Sanmicheli, with faceted rustications, whence its name.

The Palazzo Grimani, Venice (A.D. 1549) (p. 603), designed by Sanmicheli, forms an imposing mass towards the Grand Canal. The plan (p. 609 E) is most cleverly contrived on an irregular island site with three large openings to the columned vestibule and long cortile, off which are the staircases. The facade (p. 609 c), 90 ft. long and 97 ft. high, has three Orders of superimposed Corinthian pilasters, the lower comprising two storeys and the whole bound together with a striking continuous balcony from end to end of the facade. The crowning cornice, 8 ft. 8 ins. high, is proportioned to the whole facade.

The Gran Guardia Vecchia, Verona (A.D. 1609) (p. 602), is perhaps one of Sanmicheli's most successful designs. The facade, over 285 ft. long, has a rusticated ground storey with semicircular arches, and a " piano nobile," with a stately line of coupled Doric columns, surmounted by an entablature, while the centre is emphasised by an upper storey. The details of this Order (p. 6o5 F) are exceedingly refined, and the whole facade is a good example of restrained architectural expression.

FRA GIOCONDO (A.D. 14351515), a native of Verona, seems to have been associated with Sanmicheli and under his influence.

The Palazzo del Consiglio, Verona (A.D. 1476) (p. 602 ii), is notable for the arcade modelled on that of the Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence, and for the coloured " sgraffito " work of the facade.

LONGHENA (A.D. 160475) was a Roman architect who practised chiefly in Venice, and designed the famous church of the Salute.

S. Maria della Salute, Venice (A.D. 1632) (p. 604), groups up most beautifully with the Dogana or Custom House on the Grand Canal, and in itself is sufficient to stamp the architect as a man of genius. The church is octagonal in form, with a central space, 65 ft. in diameter, with Corinthian columns in the angles (p. 604 n), and the spacious surrounding aisle and radiating chapels make it one of the largest of aisled polygonal churches. The circular dome with high drum is connected to the outer walls by scrolled buttresses which contribute much to the effect.

The second dome with its flanking turrets over the wide chancel adds to the picturesqueness of this majestic group, which, throned upon its measured steps above the waters of the canal, is the apotheosis of the Baroque style in Venice.

The Palazzo Pesaro, Venice (A.D. 1679) (p. 592 A), a late design by Longhena, evidently owes many of its features to the Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande (p. 594), but, being nearly 150 years later, shows, in its heavily carved figures, that it ranks among the Baroque productions of the time.



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com