FEDERICO BALDISSERA BARTOLOMEO CORNARO, a member of the Cornaro della
Regina branch of the family in its S. Polo line, was the son of
Doge Giovanni Cornaro (G-12) and the brother
of Doge Francesco Cornaro (G-19). Federico began
his studies in Rome, presumably in the household of his uncle Cardinal
Francesco Cornaro (G-11). Upon the death of his uncle, 1598, Federico
returned to Venice and received his degree in law from the University
He returned to
Rome as Chierico di camera to Pope Clement VIII. In 1622 he became
Bishop of Bergamo and was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Urban VIII, 1626.
His appointment as Cardinal raised a political furor in Venice because
of the Republic's prohibition on children of a Doge accepting Papal
appointments. Ultimately, the appointment was approved by the Venetian
Senate, but the Senate subsequently refused to approve Federico's appointment
as Bishop first of Vicenza and later of Padua. Following his father's
death, however, he was made Patriarch of Venice, ascending to that office
in 1632 and serving until 1644.
artistic works commemorate Federico's period of service as Patriarch,
including Giuseppe Heintz' grand portrayal (now
in the collection of the Museo Correr, Venice) of
the Patriarch's arrival to assume possession of the Cathedral of S.
Pietro di Castello and Girolamo Forabosco's altarpiece (c. 1642, now
lost) for a chapel in the adjacent palace of the Patriarch. Formal portraits
of Federico as Patriarch include works by Domenico
Tintoretto (now lost), Tiberio Tinelli (also now lost) and Bernardo
Strozzi (shown above, now in the collection of Museo Ca' Rezzonico,
In 1644 Cardinal
Federico resigned as Patriarch and moved his residence to Rome. There
he commissioned, 1647, the religious monument that has insured his memory
in the history of art: the Cornaro Chapel
in the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria with its central sculptural
portrayal of the Ecstasy of S. Teresa di Avila, the celebrated
masterwork of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. The central figures are flanked
by two panels portraying Cardinal Federico and other Doges and Cardinals
of the Cornaro family as observers of the scene.
In the period
from 1500 to 1789 nine members of the Cornaro family served as Cardinal,
for a combined total of 150 years of service.