CAV. PROC. GIOVANNI CORNARO was one of the six sons of the powerful
and fabulously wealthy Venetian leader Cav. Proc.
Giorgio Cornaro (B-29), brother of Queen Caterina
Cornaro (B-31) and founder of the Cornaro della Regina branch
of the family. Three of Cav. Proc. Giorgio's sons entered the clergy,
two rising to the level of Cardinal and one to Archbishop. Each of the
other three sons sired a line of the family that was to sustain the
wealth and power of the Cornaro della Regina branch of the family
Cav. Proc. Giovanni
was the progenitor of the S. Polo line. His brothers Proc.
Giacomo Cornaro (B-61/F-1) and Sen. Girolamo
Cornaro (B-64/H-1) were progenitors of the S. Maurizio and S. Cassiano
A cavalier and
Procurator di S. Marco, Cav. Proc. Giovanni represented Venice as Ambassador
to the court of Emperor Maximillian, who honored him with the rank of
Giovanni was owner
of two of Venice's most notable palaces. While awaiting the division
of his father's estate among the four surviving brothers, Giovanni acquired
from the Lando family the palace on the Grand Canal now known as Ca'
Cornaro-Spinelli, frequently described as the first Renaissance
palace in Venice.
He then embellished
the palace with an atrium designed by Michele
Sanmicheli, one of the pioneers of Renaissance architecture in the
Veneto, and ceiling panels (now lost) by Giorgio
Vasari. In the division of his father's estate with his brothers,
Giovanni received the site of the Cornaro palace in Campo S. Polo, which
had been destroyed by fire in 1535. Giovanni turned again to Michele
Sanmicheli, this time to design a new palace for the site. Ca'
Cornaro was constructed there in 1555-64.