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Family matters: Jacopo Sansovino’s Monument to Doge Francesco Venier in San Salvador, Venice

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Avery, Victoria 
Jones, Emma 

Abstract

After his election as Doge of Venice in June 1554, Francesco Venier (1489-1556) changed his modest sepulchral plans to something more in keeping with his new position as head of state. Instead of a simple burial of “little pomp” in the far-flung church of San Francesco della Vigna, Venier secured a prominent, well-located site within the prestigious and centrally located church of San Salvador, stipulating that no less than 1,000 ducats be spent on his funerary monument. The posthumous sepulchral commission – overseen by Venier’s beloved brother Piero – resulted in the enormous gilded, polychrome marble and stone monument still in situ today (fig. 1), adorned with sculptures by two of Venice’s greatest cinquecento sculptors, Jacopo Sansovino (ca. 1486-1570), and his erstwhile assistant, Alessandro Vittoria (ca. 1524/25- 1608). This article reconsiders the monument’s commissioning history, through a re-examination of published archival documents and printed primary sources, followed by an analysis of previously unpublished litigation records. These fascinating new documents not only reveal the legal proceedings that Francesco Sansovino (1521-1586) set in motion in March 1571, four months after his father’s death, but also clarify, for the first time, the extent of Jacopo Sansovino’s involvement in the project and confirm the iconography of the two niche statues.

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Colnaghi Studies Journal

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8

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