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

Loggetta of the Campanile

1537-45
Red, white and green marbles and bronze
Piazza San Marco, Venice

Jacopo Sansovino left Rome after the Sack to pass most of the rest of his life in Venice. He brought with him Roman High Renaissance Classicism to which he remained faithful right up to his death.

As Sansovino grew more involved in his work as Proto of San Marco he embarked on a variety of sculptural commissions for the Procurators as well as for private patrons. Bronze was the ideal medium for his Venetian sculpture and became increasingly his chosen mode, for example in the sacristy door in San Marco (commissioned 1546; installed 1572) and the statues of gods for the Loggetta. The common thread running through these works was a return to Florentine models, chiefly Ghiberti and Donatello. With his bronze reliefs Sansovino delighted in reproducing the malleability of wax in bronze and achieved a painterly style, praised by his son, Francesco, in the San Marco sacristy door reliefs.

The figures of gods on the Loggetta - Pallas, Mercury, Apollo and Peace - were intended by the sculptor as an allegory of the government of Venice. Pallas was depicted as alert and fully armed because the wisdom of the Venetian senators was without peer. Mercury symbolized eloquence, and the part it played in the Venetian state. Apollo represented the freedom of the Venetian constitution, and, through the analogy of music, the harmony with which it was administered, while Peace was the condition which had transformed the city into the metropolis of Italy. The figures were planned as a coherent plastic scheme, with the Apollo and Mercury orientated on the entrance, and the Pallas and Peace turning their backs on the two archways at the sides.

The Loggetta gods are attenuated, slightly androgynous figures; they have a self-consciously artificial manner not unlike Giambologna's small bronzes. More than any other works these statues determined the form of the bronze statuettes that were turned out in Venice in the later sixteenth century.