Venezia 2: Acqua alta!

We started our morning with a lecture on Titian but we were also distracted by the rising water levels.

Acqua alta, Italian for high water, is a not uncommon phenomenon when the water levels rise and flood lower lying areas of Venice. It’s most common in winter. When high water is expected, boardwalks are set out.

The streets across the canal from our lecture room started to flood before 9 am.

By the end of our lecture, it was higher.

Piazza San Marco was under water. It peaked about 10:45 am.

Nevertheless we made it to the Galleria dell’Accademia, which holds the most significant collection of Venetian painting. Some highlights:

San Giobbe Altarpiece (c.1487) by Giovanni Bellini, this work of altarpiece art was painted for the church of San Giobbe in Venice, by the ‘Father of Venetian painting’.

Procession in St Mark’s Square (c.1496) by Gentile Bellini. Executed in tempera on canvas, this is the largest in Bellini’s series concerning the legend of the relic of the Holy Cross in Venice.

The Tempest (c.1506) by Giorgione. A highly influential allegorical landscape with figures, commissioned by the Venetian aristocrat Gabriele Vendramin, the meaning of this oil painting remains a mystery.

Pietà (c.1575) by Titian. One of the artist’s last oil paintings, the Madonna is shown supporting the body of Christ, with the help of Nicodemus. The latter is supposedly a self-portrait of Titian, who forsees his imminent demise in the face of Christ.

We then went to look at architecture. The water had subsided.

San Giorgio Maggiore (1566-1610) a Benedictine church, it has a classical temple facade on a Christian church. Palladio superimposed two facades, one with a wide pediment and architrave, extending over the nave and both the aisles, apparently supported by a single order of pilasters, and the other with a narrower pediment (the width of the nave) superimposed on top of it with a giant order of engaged columns on high pedestals.

Interior: Tintoretto’s The Last Supper

Il Redentore (Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore) (1577-1592) on one of the most prominent sites of any of Palladio’s structures, it is considered one of the pinnacles of his career. A statue of the Redeemer crowns the dome.

On the façade, a central triangular pediment overlies a larger, lower one. Palladio is known for applying rigorous geometric proportions to his façades. Redentore’s overall height is four-fifths that of its overall width whilst the width of the central portion is five-sixths of its height. Some Turkish influences are seen in the exterior, particularly the two campaniles which resemble minarets.

Giovanni Bellini’s last work, Madonna and Four Saints in the church San Zaccharia.

I also went to the crypt, which had a lot of water in it. But the old chapel was interesting although damp.

We had a private late night visit to the Basilica of San Marco (Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco) a mix of Italian and Byzantine features–

Horses of Saint Mark installed about 1254, on the balcony above the portal, date to Classical Antiquity, in 1204, Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. In 1797 they were taken to Paris by Napoleon but returned to Venice in 1815; the originals are in St Mark’s Museum inside the basilica.

The interior is Byzantine:

Lots of gold objects:

The crypt was relatively roomy.

Lots of coloured stone mosaics:

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