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Venice during the Renaissance and Mannerism: Architecture

A great protagonist of Venetian architecture in the XIV° century was Jacopo Tatti, called Sansovino.

He studied in Rome, and when he came back to Venice, he worked constantly for 40 years, building schools and civil buildings according to the style of Bramante. In 1536 he was appointed to reorganize St. Mark's Square, where all of the main political, economic and cultural activities were executed. Sansovino completed the Procuratie Nuove. The most exceptional part is the Libreria Marciana (1537). It was designed to become the most prestigious cultural center.

The aim of Sansovino was to design new buildings which did not clash with the oldest buildings. He wanted to balance the contrast between Classical Roman architecture with the striking lagoon space. In this way an harmonious "communication" between old and new was created, and the elegance of the square is impressive.


Michele Sanmicheli dedicated his life to architecture. He was one of the first architects to spread the architectural style of central Italy in Veneto .He built both civil and private palaces (such as Palazzi Canossa in Verona) according to the style of Bramante and to the Mannerism of Raphael.

Palladio's Rotonda, Vicenza

Palladio's Rotonda, Vicenza

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Andrea della Gondola called Palladio (1508-1580) was the most important architect from Veneto during the Mannerist period. Unlike Sansovino and Sanmicheli, Palladio was educated in Veneto by Gian Girolamo Trissino. Palladio worked mostly in Venice and Vicenza, designing many rural palaces for noble families.

Palladio's most famous buildings are in Vicenza, a beautiful, small city, easily and quickly reached from Venice. Palladio's works influenced all European architecture of the XVIII° and XIX° centuries. Great examples of Palladio's style in Venice are the church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the church of the Redentore. Palladio was in some ways influenced by Vitruvius, but he soon developed his own signature style. Above all Palladio was against Baroque art, which he considered too eccentric and unsuitable for the essential rules of architecture.

Although he worked in a period recognized as being High-Renaissance/Mannerism by most art critics, Palladio could be defined a Renaissance artist.  To understand Palladio's opinion about Baroque we can consider what Ruskin also thought about it: for him Baroque was a "grotesque Renaissance", that is to say a kind of art which had lost the original purposes of the Renaissance style: essentiality, a focus on man, balance and rationality.

Palladio is famous for applying the typical style of Greek and Roman temples to his church designs.


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