Jacopo Sansovino, original name Jacopo Tatti (baptized July
2, 1486, Florence—died Nov. 27, 1570, Venice), sculptor and
architect who introduced the style of the High Renaissance
into Venice. In 1502 he entered the Florence workshop of the
sculptor Andrea Sansovino and, as a sign of admiration,
adopted his master’s name. In 1505 he accompanied the
Florentine architect Giuliano da Sangallo to Rome, studying
ancient architecture and sculpture while employed by Pope
Julius II in the restoration of ancient statues. Back in
Florence he carved the statue St. James the Elder (1511–18;
Santa Maria del Fiore) and the Bacchus (c. 1514).
From 1518 Jacopo worked in Rome, first on
the Madonna del Parto (c. 1519), which shows the continuing
influence of Andrea Sansovino, and on the St. James (1520).
After the sack of Rome in 1527, Sansovino
fled to Venice, where he was made protoma gister
(supervising architect) of the cathedral. He became a friend
of the painter Titian and the author Pietro Aretino and was
appointed chief architect of the city, a position he held
until his death. His first Venetian building was the Palazzo
Corner della Ca’ Grande (1533), in which he retained the
rusticated base and trabeated second story (piano nobile) of
the Roman palaces of Donato Bramante and Raphael. But
Sansovino added a third story and altered the proportions of
each story in order to conform more closely to Venetian
traditions of palace design.
Sansovino planned a transformation of St.
Mark’s Square into a unified arrangement of interrelated
structures. Although his plan was incomplete at the time of
his death, his influence on the urban landscape endured. His
Zecca (Mint) dates from 1536 and is notable for the
imaginative rustication of its columns and wall surfaces,
which give the building an appropriately fortified
appearance. The Library of St. Mark’s (also called the Old
Library), one of the major architectural works of the 16th
century, was begun the same year. The small but richly
decorated Loggetta, also begun in the mid-1530s, was the
first of the three to be completed (1542).
Sansovino’s early Venetian bronzes, such
as the statuettes of the Evangelists and the doors of the
sacristy in St. Mark’s (1540s), recall the easy grace of his
Roman and Florentine works but show a new independence and
maturity of conception. His marble statue of the youthful
St. John the Baptist (1554) in Santa Maria dei Frari shows
the transition from his mature style to that of his old age.
Among the works showing his severe late
style are the bronze portrait of Tommaso Rangone over the
entrance to the Church of San Giuliano (1554), which
Sansovino also designed; the colossal statues of Mars and
Neptune (1554–56); and the monument to the doge Francesco
Venier in the Church of San Salvatore (1556–61).
Many of Sansovino’s most important works
are decorative elements of his architecture, and he was
perhaps more successful than any other Renaissance architect
in fusing architecture and sculpture. He remained an
advocate of the balance and restraint of the High
Renaissance style even while Mannerism was becoming the
dominant artistic trend in Italy.