Venezia 3: Four Churches and a Scuola

Today was our last day of looking at art and architecture.

Santi Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo) (1430s) Italian Gothic, principal Dominican church in Venice, burial church of 25 doges. No photos allowed inside the church. The church contains a Giovanni Bellini and a number of Veronese paintings as well as a lot of huge monuments to doges no one cares about any longer.

Outside the church is Andrea del Verrocchio’s Equestrian Statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni (1483) The statue solved the problem of representing a horse while moving, with a raised leg, which could cause stability problems due to the excessive weight of the bronze being supported only by three relatively thin legs. Donatello, in his monument at Padua, had partially solved the problem by putting the raised leg on a sphere. Verrocchio was the first to solve the problem in having the horse supported by three legs.

Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1481-89) architect was Pietro Lombardo, an early Venetian Renaissance “marble church”. The church is brick with marble cladding. A view of the inside marble before we were told no photos:

We went to San Giovanni Crisostomo but the street in front is so narrow below was all I could photograph and inside, no photos were allowed. It contained a late Giovanni Bellini altarpiece in a side chapel of Saints Jerome, Christopher and Louis of Toulouse:

Scuola Grande di San Rocco (1515-1560), a building to house one of the confraternities, charitable citizen groups, in this case, devoted to San Rocco, the saint regarded as a protector against the plague. There were six schools but San Rocco remains the best preserved.

From 1564 until he died over 20 years later, Tintoretto decorated the walls and ceilings with 27 canvases in the Sala dell’Albergo, 21 paintings and 10 great “teleri” (large canvases) in the upper hall, 8 in the lower hall. The paintings depict Old and New Testament.

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari; a Franciscan church

Titian’s Assumption (1516), this very large painting was innovative as it shifted from the usual static figures to show agitated apostles on the ground and a dynamic Virgin Mary twisting in contraposto looking up at a God quoted from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Giovanni Bellini’s Triptych with Virgin Mary and Saints (1488), which despite the Byzantine elements makes great use of the frame and the direction of light in the chapel to make the painting realistic and present to the viewer.

I wrote a history paper about the above painting, Titian’s Pesaro Madonna (1519-26). It illustrates the role of donors to a church and the wars between the Ottoman Empire and Venice as the man on the left foreground in black was Jacopo Pesaro, a bishop of Paphos in Cyprus and commander of a papal fleet that won a battle over the Turks (thus the guy in the turban). The group on the right are his brothers and nephew. After making a donation to the church, the family will use the chapel to bury its members. And to decorate it as they wished.

It also shows another Titian innovation as he has moved the Madonna from the centre of the painting to the side and has her on a high platform thereby creating a diagonal composition where the eye travels from the donor to St Peter (in blue and yellow) to Mary. Seen in situ, the viewer approaches the painting from the entry towards the altar in the same direction as the diagonal in the painting and this makes thee viewer feel they are part of the procession.

It also shows the figures in the painting making eye contact, engaging one another, unlike earlier paintings of this type called sacra conversazione, like many of the Bellinis:

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