Cornaro crest

Doge Giovanni Cornaro (G-12)

Born: 11 November 1551, Venice

Married: 10 February 1578, Chiara Dolfin

Died: 22 December 1629

DOGE GIOVANNI CORNARO, a member of the Cornaro della Regina branch of the family in its S. Polo line, served in a succession of increasingly prestigious and responsible offices until his ultimate election as Doge of Venice, January 1624/5. Among numerous other posts, he was Capitano [military commander] at Verona, a member of the Council of Ten, 1597, Podestà [governor] at Padua, 1600, and Podestà at Brescia, 1603. He was named a Procurator di S. Marco, May 1609.

Interestingly, his election as Doge [Duke] was strongly opposed by his sons, especially Sen. Alvise Cornaro (G-20), who lamented that their own careers would be thwarted because of Venice's rule prohibiting the appointment of a Doge's children to Church or governmental posts. In fact, a great political furor erupted later over Pope Urban VIII's appointment of Doge Giovanni's son Federico Cornaro (G-17) as a Cardinal, 1626; that appointment was ultimately ratified by the Venetian Senate, but later attempts to name Cardinal Federico first as Bishop of Vicenza and then of Padua were thwarted.

Doge's BanquetIn honor of Doge Giovanni's election, Benedetto Salvatico composed "Oratione . . . per l'assontone del. Sereniss. Giovanni Cornaro al Principato" [Oration for the Ascension of His Serene Highness Giovanni Cornaro to the Princeship] (Padua, 1625). In addition, one of the outstanding collections of 16th century poems, Varie Compositioni Scritte in Lode dell'Illustriss. G. C. Capitano di Verona [Various Compositions Written in Honor of the Most Illustrious G. C., Capitano of Verona] (Verona, 1596), edited by P. Palermo, was published in his honor. He was also the subject of the dedication of Ludovico Grota's heroic poem "L'Honorata Giostra Fatta" (Padua, 1600).

Doge Giovanni Cornaro is buried beside his wife in the Church of S. Nicoḷ da Tolentino. Their family, it is said, was known not only for its wealth, but for also for its modesty and piety.

Ricci portraitThe painting by Filippo Zaniberti shown above (detail only) depicts Doge Cornaro at a state banquet in the Doge's Palace at Venice. Shown at right is a portrait of Doge Cornaro painted by Sebastiano Ricci for the Cornaro family palace at Campo S. Polo. Earlier, to commemorate his service as Capitano of Verona, that city commissioned and presented to him a painting by Felice Brusasorzi, its leading artist of the period, entitled "Allegory of the Baptism of Lorenzo Cornaro."

Doge Cornaro was likely the patron of Villa Cornaro at Romano Alto, which was constructed during his lifetime and later owned by his descendants.

© 1997-2000, 2004 C. I. Gable