Cornaro crest

Baldasarre Longhena

Born: 1598, Venice (S. Severo Parish)

Died: 1682

BALDASARRE LONGHENA, son of a stonemason, studied architecture under the guidance of Vincenzo Scamozzi. Tomaso Termaza in Vite dei piu' celebri architetturi e scultori veneziani (Venice, 1778) describes him as a pleasant and dignified man of small stature who always dressed in black. In Deborah Howard's view, Longhena was "the single great Venetian architect of his age." The Architectural History of Venice (New York, 1981), p. 184.

Longhena began his career by rebuilding or modernizing several Venetian palaces. His dramatic breakthrough came, however, when his design -- one of 11 submitted -- was selected, 1630, for the Church of S. Maria della Salute. The construction of Salute was motivated by 16 months of plague that killed more than 45,000 Venetians, and the building immediately became one of the Republic's premier monuments. Cav. Proc. Girolamo Marco Cornaro (H-15) was a member of the committee that commissioned the project.

In 1640 Longhena was appointed proto of the Procurators de supra. In that role he completed the Procuratie Nouve, which had been begun by Vincenzo Scamozzi. Longhena also designed two of the grandest palaces on the Grand Canal: Ca' Pesaro, begun 1652 and completed by Antonio Gaspari, and Ca' Bon (now Rezzonico), begun 1667 and completed by Giorgio Massari. The Church of S. Maria di Nazareth (degli Scalzi [of the Barefoot Friars]), but not its facade, is also Longhena's work.

1997-9 C. I. Gable