Cornaro crest

Domenico Rossi

Born: 1657, Lake Lugano

Died: 1737

DOMENICO ROSSI was sent at an early age to Venice to study architecture with his uncle Giuseppe Sardi. Finding Rossi an unwilling pupil, Sardi arranged his apprenticeship as a stonemason in the workshops of Alessandro Tremignon and Baldissare Longhena.

This practical beginning to Rossi's career echoes that of Andrea Palladio more than a century earlier although, unlike Palladio, Rossi's education does not seem to have been broadened through travel and through the association of an educated coterie of young men. Rossi's early stonemason training may explain his careful attention to architectural detail, albeit sometimes even at the cost of structural and stylistic cohesion. Yet surely, in light of the substantial patronage that Rossi attracted, Tomaso Temanza is unduly harsh in his appraisal of Rossi as "an uneducated man but well-versed in the practical side of building, who had little or no good taste in art." Perhaps Temanza's assessment is tinged by envy, for it seems that Rossi was not only a congenial and well-liked friend of the Venetian nobility, but also managed to make a great deal of money dealing in Carrara marble.

He supervised rebuilding the Church of S. Girolamo after it burned, 1705, and his design was selected in a competition for the facade of the Church of S. Stae [S. Eustachio], 1709. Soon his horizons were broadening. He is known to have traveled to Rome in 1710, presumably on a study trip, in the company of Venetian sculptors Pietro Baratta and Giuseppe Torretti and fellow Venetian architect Antonio Scalfarotto. By 1714 he was designing the restructuring of Church of the Holy Virgin in Ljubljana, present-day Slovenia.

From 1715 Rossi was architect of the Church of the Gesuiti [S. Maria Assunta], the Jesuit church in Venice, though he was constrained by the Jesuit requirement that he pattern the floor plan on their Church of Gesł in Rome. The Manin family, principal patrons of Gesuiti, probably also turned to Rossi for expansion their massive villa at Passariano in the Venetan countryside near Udine. Rossi was engaged in renovation at the Cathedral of Udine during the same period.

One of Rossi's most prominent monuments in Venice is the imposing Ca' Cornaro della Regina on the Grand Canal in S. Cassiano Parish, 1723-c. 1730. The Cornaro commission may have derived in part from Rossi's earlier association with the Tremignon workshop, because Tremignon himself had once (c. 1700) served as proto [supervising architect] to the S. Cassiano line of the Cornaro della regina family.

© 1997-9, 2004 C. I. Gable