In the course of the sixteenth century, not only did there develop around the
Arsenale a philosophy harking back to the austerity of the ancients, a
product of the crisis in the Venetian patrician classes, but there also emerged
an ideology of practice, technique, and execution which would mark the
education and attitudes of supervisors until the fall of the Republic. In the
years from 1525-1550 the Arsenale experienced the failure of the humanistic
experiments of Vettor Fausto, who had tried to introduce the concept of naval
architecture for the first time to Venice and the Western world in theoretical
anticipation of its practical execution. A crucial factor in Fausto's attempt
to establish this new discipline was the use of mathematics, which alone could
coordinate and unite the specialised knowledge of different masters. The
construction work going on within the Arsenale continued to be coordinated and
directed by a
'proto' ('superintendent') from the artisan corporations.
Another attempt destined for failure was the decison to entrust all public
building in the city to a single 'proto'. Thus Antonio da Ponte's experiment
too remained an isolated experiment, never to be repeated. Da Ponte was 'proto'
of the 'Magistracy of Salt' ,
and between 1575 and 1590 was active in the Arsenale where he served as
its building superintendent or 'proto'.