MICHELE SANMICHELI began his studies in Verona with his father and his
uncle, both architects, but then left at age 16 to study classical sculpture
and architecture at Rome in the workshop of Antonio da Sangallo.
In 1509 Sanmicheli
removed to Orvieto in Umbria, where he soon developed a successful career
as architect of a number of churches and palaces, including the Church
of S. Domenico in Orvieto itself and the duomo [cathedral] at
Montefiascone just 20 miles away. Following the sack of Rome in 1527,
however, Sanmicheli removed to Verona and continued his career there.
His work at Verona included the Church of S. Bernardino and several
prominent palaces, including Palazzo Pompei, Palazzo Canossa and Palazzo
Bevilacqua. Bringing with him the benefit of his Roman studies, Sanmicheli
was one of the pioneers of Renaissance architecture in the Veneto.
equal or greater fame, however, as an architect of military fortifications.
While based in Rome, Sanmicheli was retained by Pope Clement VII to
improve the defenses at Parma and Piacenza. In 1529 he fortified Legnago,
southeast of Verona, on behalf of Venice. By 1535 he had been placed
in charge of all fortifications of the Republic, not just in the Venetian
lagoon, but on the mainland and in Venice's possessions in the eastern
Mediterranean as well, including Crete and Cyprus. His largest project
for Venice was Fortezza di Sant'Andrea (1545), defending the Lido entrance
to the Venetian lagoon.
It was in the
military field that Sanmicheli's career was first influenced by the
Cornaro family. Sen. Girolamo Cornaro (B-64/H-1),
then newly installed as Capitano [military commander] at Padua,
encountered Sanmicheli in 1538 as architect for the famous fortification
there that became known as Bastion Cornaro. In the following year he
also commissioned Sanmicheli to design a new palace, Villa
Cornaro, in nearby Piombino Dese to replace the earlier family manor
there, which had been burned more than 25 years earlier in the War of
the League of Cambrai.
brother Cav. Proc. Giovanni Cornaro (B63/G-1)
commissioned Sanmicheli to design a new atrium for Ca'
Lando-Cornaro [later known as Ca' Cornaro-Spinelli] on the Grand
Canal in Venice, c. 1542, and then an entirely new palace. The Sanmicheli-designed
Ca' Cornaro was constructed, 1555-64, in Campo
S. Polo, on the site of an earlier family palace there that had been
destroyed by fire in 1535. The second great Venetian palazzo designed
by Sanmicheli was Ca' Grimani, constructed on the Grand Canal in the
his ideas on classical architecture in I Cinque Ordini dell' Architettura
[The Five Orders of Architecture]. He closed his career with the design
of the circular Church of the Madonna di Campagna near Verona, 1559.