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Summary Article: Sanmicheli, Michele (1484 - 1559) from Thames & Hudson Dictionary of the Italian Renaissance, The

Veronese architect and military engineer to the Venetian Republic. Born into the building trade in Verona, Sanmicheli trained briefly as a stonemason before going to Rome, where he became a second-grade papal architect in the orbit of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and acquired the architectural vocabulary of Bramante and Raphael, which he was to transport to the Veneto. As architect of Orvieto cathedral he built the Petrucci Chapel (c. 1516) and made designs for façade and campanile. In the 1520s he joined Sangallo as a Fortifications expert in the Papal State before entering Venetian service and returning to Verona. His three Veronese palaces, probably all constructed in the 1530s, reflect in their difference of style the competitive patronage of interlinked local families, anxious to demonstrate up-to-date architectural tastes. While the façades of the Canossa and Pompeii palaces are variations on the theme of Bramante's ‘House of Raphael’, the intricate bay rhythms and sophisticated ornament of the Palazzo Bevilacqua draw on Peruzzi and the local antiquities of Verona (Porta de' Borsari). Sanmicheli's religious buildings in Verona (Cappella Pellegrini at S. Bernardino; Madonna di Campagna) explore the possibilities of a Pantheon-like round plan as symbolically appropriate to a funerary chapel and a votive pilgrimage church. The city gates of Verona, the Porta Nuova (1533f.) and the Porta Palio (1555f.), demonstrate his mastery of the expressive language of the rusticated Doric order as rationalized by Serlio. This combination of strength and precision appears too in the sadly-neglected fortress of S. Andrea on the Venetian Lido, rightly described by Vasari as one of the most stupendous in Europe. Sanmicheli's Venetian palaces (e.g. Palazzo Grimani, 1559f.) are forthright statements in a grandiose Roman language which makes little concession to the Venetian vernacular. As engineer to the Venetian Republic Sanmicheli built fortifications in Dalmatia (present-day Yugoslavia), Corfu and Cyprus. His commonsensical architecture, with its attention to fine stone detail, was a formative influence on the young Palladio. Caroline Elam


Bibliography

L. Puppi Michele Sanmicheli (1971)

© 1981 Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. Reprinted 2003.

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