Cornaro crest

Giorgio Massari

Born: 1687, S. Luca Parish, Venice

Died: 1766

GIORGIO MASSARI designed several of Venice's most prominent structures of the 18th century. In the opinion of Deborah Howard (The Architectural History of Venice [New York: Holmes & Meier, 1987], p. 199), Massari was "[b]y far the most talented Venetian architect of [his] period."

Howard concludes, "More than any of his rivals, he succumbed to the influences of Rococo taste, but he absorbed its elements into his architecture with such delicacy and sureness of touch that his style never degenerated into fussy frivolity."

Early in his career Massari completed the Church of S. Maria della Fava, which Antonio Gaspari had begun in 1705. Massari's first major work on his own was the Church of S. Maria del Rosario, called the Gesuati, 1726-36. Thereafter, in 1736 Massari prevailed in a competition for construction of the S. Maria della Pieta church and hospital. Only the church was actually erected, 1745-60 (facade, early 20th cen.). His most prominent legacy, however, is the enormous Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal, begun 1748, now used primarily as a conference and exposition center.

Massari is also credited in one account with the reconstruction of Villa Cornaro at S. Andrea di Cavasagra, c. 1750-70.

1997-9 C. I. Gable