Known for buildings such as the Libreria Sansoviniana, the 16th-century sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino inspired vivid, fanciful designs in the style of frames bearing his moniker. Sansovino frames were festooned with elaborate embellishments such as pelt-like cartouches, volutes, winged cherub heads, masks, scrolling clasps and Moorish strapwork.
Born in Florence and based in Venice, Sansovino the architect dominated his field while Florence’s art scene was flowering during the Renaissance. The period’s complementary innovations in architecture, engineering, visual art, mathematics and medicine were grounded in the rediscovery of classical texts and artifacts. This influence can be seen in the embellished scrolls and the use of mathematical ratios, similar to that which figured prominently in Greco-Roman art and architecture.
Because Sansovino frames are so bold, they are best displayed on equally bold works of art. Works such as the above painting by El Greco of Christ carrying the cross complement the strong forms and heavy style of the frame.
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