(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1570, Venezia)

Biblioteca Marciana and Zecca

Piazza San Marco, Venice

The Biblioteca Marciana (Library of San Marco) was commenced in 1537 to shelter the manuscripts left to the Republic by Cardinal Bessarion, the Greek humanist and patriarch of Constantinople. Sansovino was apparently inspired by the ancient author Pausanias's description of the marble library of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The ground story arcade is in the Roman Doric order, based on that of the Colosseum, but with keystones carved into alternating masks and lion's heads and with recumbent figures in the spandrels. The second story is taller with Ionic order. The verticals are accented at the corners by piers articulated by pilasters. The balustrade crowning the structure is divided by bases that support statues and obelisks. No walls are apparent on either story, only clusters of columns and piers.

In 1554 the construction of the library was interrupted, only to be resumed after the master's death in 1570 by his pupil Vincenzo Scamozzi. Nonetheless, the work was continued with fidelity to Jacopo's design, and the library stands as a unified monument.

The adjacent Zecca (the Mint of the Republic, far left in the picture), was commissioned by the Council of Ten. It was originally erected with two stories, but Sansovino had to add a protective third story required by the heat of the foundries.