The Venetian cardinal Domenico Grimani was born on 19th February 1461. His art collection now forms part of the Museo d’Antichità in the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
Grimani was the eldest of five sons of Antonio Grimani, a spice merchant. He became the oldest Doge of Venice in 1521 at the age of 87. His mother was Catarina Loredan, who came from another noble Venetian family.
After showing an early interest in humanist studies, Domenico moved to the Medicean academy in Florence. There he became part of the circle of Lorenzo de’ Medici. He received his doctorate in canon law at the University of Padua in 1487. Later that year, he was elected a Senator of Venice.
In 1493, Domenico Grimani became a cardinal, an appointment paid for by his father. It was another five years before he was actually ordained as a priest. A further five years later, in 1503, Grimani became becoming cardinal priest of San Marco.
He also held other titles including apostolic administrator in Nicosia, Patriarch of Aquileia, cardinal bishop of Albano, administrator of the diocese of Urbino and Bishop of Ceneda.
He died in 1523. Initially buried in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome, his remains were later moved to San Francesco della Vigna in Venice.
Grimani’s art collection
Grimani’s fascination with art and antiquities began when he stumbled upon buried Roman remains while building a villa and a vineyard in Rome,
Grimani acquired works among others by Italian Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, Titian and Raphael. He did not limit himself to Italian artists. Grimani also gained works by Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch, two of the great Early Netherlandish painters of the 15th century.
An illuminated manuscript, produced in Ghent and Bruges between 1510 and 1520, became known as the Grimani Breviary after it joined the cardinal’s collection. It is considered one of the most important works of Flemish art from the Renaissance period. Grimani acquired it for 500 gold ducats, and subsequently bequeathed to the Venetian Republic. It is now housed in the Biblioteca Marciana, opposite the Doge’s Palace.
Domenico also began the collection of Greek and Roman antiquities that was subsequently expanded by his nephew, Giovanni, and now kept in the Palazzo Grimani museum in Venice.