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Sansovino, Jacopo

SANSOVINO, JACOPO (1477-1570), Italian sculptor, was called Sansovino after his master Andrea, his family name being Tatti. He became a pupil of Andrea in 1500, and in 1510 accompanied him to Rome, devoting himself there to the study of antique sculpture. Julius II. employed him to restore damaged statues, and he made a full-sized copy of the Laocoon group, which was afterwards cast in bronze, and is now in the Uffizi at Florence. In 1511 he returned to Florence, and began the statue of St James the Elder, which is now in a niche in one of the great piers of the Duomo. He carved a nude figure of " Bacchus and Pan," nowin the Bargello, near the "Bacchus" of Michelangelo, from the contrast with which it suffers much. Soon afterwards Jacopo returned to Rome, and designed for his fellow-citizens the grand church of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, which was carried out by Antonio Sangallo the younger. A marble group of the " Madonna and Child," heavy in style, now at the west of S. Agostino, was his next important work. In 1527 Jacopo fled from the sack of Rome to Venice, where he was welcomed by Titian and Pietro Aretino; henceforth till his death he was occupied in adorning Venice with magnificent buildings and many second-rate pieces of sculpture Among the latter Jacopo's poorest works are the colossal statues of "Neptune " and " Mars " on the grand staircase of the ducal palace. His best are the bronze doors of the sacristy of St Mark, cast in 1562; inferior to these are the series of six bronze reliefs round the choir of the same church. In 1565 he completed a small bronze gate with a graceful relief of " Christ surrounded by Angels "; this gate shuts off the altar of the Reserved Host in the choir of St Mark's.

Jacopo's chief claim to distinction rests upon the numerous fine Venetian buildings which he designed, such as the public library, the mint, the Scuola della Misericordia, the Palazzo de' Cornari and the Palazzo Delfino, with its magnificent staircase the last two both on the grand canal. Among his ecclesiastical works the chief were the church of S. Fantino, that of S. Martino, near the arsenal, the Scuola di S. Giovanni degli Schiavoni and, finest of all, the church, now destroyed (see VENICE), of S. Geminiano, a very good specimen of the Tuscan and Composite orders used with the graceful freedom of the Renaissance.

In 1545 the roof of the public library, which he was then constructing, fell in; on this account he was imprisoned, fined and dismissed from the office of chief architect of the cathedral, to which he had been appointed by a decree of the signoria on the 7th of April 1529. Owing to the intervention of Titian, Pietro Aretino and others, he was soon set at liberty, and in 1549 he was restored to his post. He did good service for St Mark's by encircling its failing domes with bands of iron. Sansovino's architectural works have much beauty of proportion and grace of ornament, a little marred in some cases by an excess of sculptured decoration, though the carving itself is always beautiful, both in design and execution. He used the classic orders with great freedom and tasteful invention. His numerous pupils were mostly men of but little talent.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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