I am conducting research on a key political figure of late sixteenth-century Venice, Leonardo Donà
Donà was the leader of the party known as the Giovani (young ones), who promoted greater Venetian political autonomy as well as an austere lifestyle and ties with ancient civic traditions. He favored a style of architecture that drew on the origins of Venice, proposing a different idea of monumentality, one based on concepts such as authority, continuity, and sense of power and defined by size, location, and symbolic presence as opposed to pomp, splendor, or magnificence. In adopting this stance, he set himself in opposition to the Vecchi (old ones), who were oriented toward a close connection with the papacy, enjoyed pomp, were attracted to novelty, and admired Roman Renaissance architecture.
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In a sense, Donà tried to maintain a cultural identity endangered by contemporary globalization. But he was not a provincial traditionalist. His life was strongly international and culturally open; he was in contact with leading minds of his day such as Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, and Paolo Sarpi. He considered all aspects of his life public and left substantial written evidence that attests to his adoption of the ideal of identity between public and private life and to the building of his own myth.
The project offers the possibility of investigating in a broader political, intellectual, and sociocultural context issues related to art, technology, engineering, and material culture, connecting several humanistic fields in a multidisciplinary study. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to explore topics that resonate intensely with our time. These include relationships between globalization and local identity, mainstream and outlier, architecture and politics, church and state, innovation and tradition.
The research will culminate in a comprehensive book, now partially completed, on Donà and his role in the architectural politics of early modern Venice. The book will be structured in two parts: the first covering topics such as Donà’s life and career, his extensive travels, his country estates, his involvement in the great urban interventions, his family palace, and his tomb. The second part is devoted to the building of the Palazzo Donà