Antonio da Ponte
Antonio Da Ponte was head architect of the rebuilding of the Ducal Palace that was badly damaged by fire in 1574. After the original wooden structure of the Rialto Bridge had collapsed repeatedly, it was decided that a stone bridge was necessary. Between 1588 and 1591 da Ponte rebuilt the Rialto Bridge to a design to which he had contributed.
The design was selected in a contest held by the local authorities under Doge of Venice Pasquale Cicogna. Though Da Ponte is relatively unknown otherwise, the design for the Venice landmark defeated submissions by noted architects of the time, including Michelangelo. Plans were offered by famous architects such as Jacopo Sansovino, Andrea Palladio and Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, but all involved a Classical approach with several arches, which was judged inappropriate to the situation.
The engineering of the bridge throws considerable weight on its foundations. It was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted future ruin. However the bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.
In the construction of this work Antonio was helped by his nephew Antonio Contino, who would also later design the famous Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). In 1841, the Parisian architect Antoine Rondelet wrote about the suspicious similarities between Antonio da Ponte's project and the one by Vincenzo Scamozzi.
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