Jacopo Sansovino (circle), Design for Door Knocker

Artist | Circle of Jacopo Sansovino (1486- 1570)  
TitleDesign for Door Knocker
Date | ca.1550–1570   
Medium | Black chalk on blue paper
Dimensions | 236 x 149 mm
Institution | Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich (link to online catalogue)
Credit line | © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München 
Theme | Antiquity, Mythology, and Allegory
Museum number | 1952:12 Z

Bronze door knockers were a popular commodity among the elites in Renaissance Venice and adorned the principal entries of many city palaces, combining their functionality with their decorative potential. They were often designed by local sculptors. This drawing, from the circle of Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570), was possibly part of a larger sheet containing different designs from which potential customers could choose. In contrast to other examples, this drawing does not include any coat of arms, suggesting that this piece was designed for wide distribution and not for a specific patron. The artist chose to draw on blue paper, which allowed for a three-dimensional representation of the object, thus providing potential customers a preliminary idea of the three-dimensional design. Door knockers consisted of a hinge, hammer, and plate and often featured sophisticated decorations. References to antiquity should show the erudition of the patron. In this case, the maritime figures of Triton and Nereide underline the link between Venice and the sea; the grotesque mascherone is typical of Venice as well. 


We are grateful to Maria Aresin and Kurt Zeitler for their guidance.