It was left to Longhena to finish this wing, and to build the connecting section joining the Procuratie Nuove with the church of San Geminiano at the far end of the Piazza. This last portion was destroyed when all the buildings on the west side of the Piazza were demolished under Napoleonic rule in 1807 to make way for a grand imperial ballroom fig. 156. Meanwhile, Longhena began to work in the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, for which Palladio had designed the new church, refectory and other buildings. In 1641 the new monastic library was begun, after Michelozzo’s famous library had been badly damaged by fire and demolished. Longhena’s beautifully proportioned, lofty hall, lit by huge windows opening on to one of the cloisters, retains something of the traditional sobriety of monastic library design, although the heavy, rhythmic forms of the wooden bookcases betray the architect’s baroque leanings. 37 Two years later, in 1643, Longhena began his grand staircase in the so-called Cloister of the Cypresses at San Giorgio, leading up to the level of the new reading-room fig. 129. This must surely be one of the most masterful of all his works.
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