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The Veneto: Padua and Verona

 


 

 

Gesuiti Santa Maria Assunta
Madonna dell’Orto  San Cristoforo Martire
Miracoli
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
San Bonaventura
I Riformati
San Canzian
San Canciano
San Felice
San Geremia
Santi Geremia e Lucia
San Giobbe
San Giovanni Grisostomo
San Giovanni Crisostomo
San Girolamo
San Leonardo
San Marcuola
Santi Ermagora e Fortunato

now on page 2
San Marziale
Sant’Alvise
Santa Caterina
Santa Fosca
Santa Maria dei Redentore Chiesa delle Cappuccine
Santa Maria dei Servi
Volto Santo
Santa Maria delle Penitenti
Santa Maria Maddalena
La Maddalena
Santa Maria Valverde
Misericordia
Santa Sofia
Santi Apostoli
Scalzi
Santa Maria de Nazaret

non-catholic
Scuola dell'Angelo Custode (Evangelical Lutheran)

 

Gesuiti
Domenico Rossi, Giovanni Battista Fattoretto, Fra Giuseppe Pozzo 1715-30
 


History
The original church of Santa Maria Assunta had stood here since 1155, being built, along with an attached monastery and hospital, by the order of the Crucifers (Crociferi). Having been rebuilt after fires in 1214 and 1514 it was acquired by the Jesuits in 1657, following the suppression of the Crucifers in 1656 for moral turpitude. The Jesuits had been expelled in 1606, from their church and school of Santa Maria dell'Umiltà in Dorsoduro. They were allowed back because Venice needed money following the war of Candia. They wanted to obtain it by suppressing Santo Spirito and the Crociferi church here and selling off their goods, but needed the permission of the pope. Pope Alexander VII agreed, on condition the Jesuits could return to Venice. This they therefore did, but to this peripheral location, not their old premises in Dorsoduro.

The Manin family (who have tombs here) later provided money for the church's reconstruction and this work began after the demolition of the old church in 1715. The gap between the Jesuit’s acquisition and rebuilding was down to the order being temporarily expelled from Venice due to the Republic's argument with the Pope over the right to try clergymen convicted of crimes. The Jesuits were never popular in Venice, which might explain this church's remote location, as well as the degree to which the church tries to overawe and impress. The work was entrusted to architect Domenico Rossi, who was  the Manin family’s favourite  architect and Giuseppe Sardi's nephew.

When the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773 the monastery became a school and then, in 1808, a barracks. The Jesuits returned in 1844 and still occupy the convent buildings to the north. Those to the south have been converted to student housing.

The church
The façade is as overpopulated as you'd expect from a Baroque church in Venice. It is said to be the work of Giovanni Battista Fattoretto, probably to an original design by Rossi. On the first level there are statues of the apostles who witnessed the Assumption of the Virgin, by various sculptors. The Virgin passing into Heaven, with angels with robes billowing in the wind above the pediment, are by Giuseppe Torretti. The Manin coat of arms is over the doorway. Ludovico Manin being famously the last doge of all - the one who handed Venice over to Napoleon.

The interior
An aisleless nave with the deep chapels either side connected by doors. The walls seem to be covered in what looks like Victorian table-cloths, or the wallpaper in traditional Indian restaurants. But it's all intarsia (marble inlay) made to look like fabric -  swags and all. (This carved cloth is said by some to represent the shroud in which Mary was wrapped before her assumption.)   Almost every surface is decorated. There's even marble carved and inlaid to look like carpet in front of the high altar. On the ceiling gold and white stucco work by Abbondio Stazio surrounds frescoes by Francesco Fontabasso and Louis Dorigny (two each). Then there's the altar, inspired by Bernini, by Fra Giuseppe Pozzo, with its baldacchino with barley-twist columns and concealed lighting. There's also the Da Lezze family funerary monument by Sansovino. Statues of six archangels on the pilasters around the crossing and in the apse are the work of Giuseppe Toretti, who also carved some of the figures on the façade.

W. D. Howells (in Venetian Life) said
The workmanship is marvellously skilful, and the material costly, but it only gives the church….a poverty, a coldness, a harshness indescribably table-clothy. In this dreary sanctuary is one of Titian's great paintings, The Martyrdom of St Lawrence, to which….you turn involuntarily, envious of the Saint toasting so comfortably on his gridiron amid all that frigidity.

Ruskin said
...speaking of the buildings of the Grotesque Renaissance, that many of them are remarkable for a kind of dishonesty, even in the use of true marbles, resulting not from motives of economy, but from mere love of juggling and falsehood for their own sake. I hardly know which condition of mind is meanest, that which has pride in plaster made to look like marble, or that which takes delight in marble made to look like silk. Several of the later churches in Venice, more especially those of the Gesuiti of San Clemente, and of the Scalzi, rest their chief claims to admiration on their having curtains and cushions cut out of rock. The most ridiculous example is the Gesuiti...

Art highlight
Titian’s late, great and spooky The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (see far right) in the first chapel on the left, which had been in the previous church on the site, having been commissioned by Elisabetta, the widow of Lorenzo Massolo.

Other art highlights
Tintoretto's early and movement-filled Assumption of the Virgin is on the altar dedicated by the Zen family, in the left (shallow) transept. The sacristy contains 21 superior works by Palma Giovane, (see example, below right) on the walls and across the decorated ceiling, in celebration of the Eucharist.

Lost art (previous Crociferi church)
Three by Cannaregio resident Tintoretto: an Assumption now in the Gesuiti, The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple now in the Accademia and the Marriage at Cana now in the sacristy of the Salute.

Veronese's Adoration of the Shepherds is now in San Zanipolo. Two altarpieces by Cima da Conegliano
are now in the Hermitage (an Annunciation) and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge.

Lost art
St Lanfranc Enthroned between
St John the Baptist and (?)St Liberius, by Cima da Conegliano, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, was probably commissioned by the Guild of Furriers for their altar here to the right of the entrance. Amongst their relics the Crociferi owned St Lanfranc's head, which was probably kept on or in the altar. St Liberius was a saint who took the habit of the Crociferi. Another by Cima, A Miracle of St Mark, in which St Mark heals Anianus, the cobbler who injured himself with an awl while repairing the saint’s shoe, painted for the chapel of the Arte dei Setaioli (silk weavers), is in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

 
The church in art
Il Campo e la Chiesa dei Gesuiti
by Canaletto.

Campanile
40m (130 ft) manual bells

Dating from 1150, and the original church, but topped by an 18th Century belfry. The lagoon-facing belfry windows were bricked up by Rossi in 1715.

Opening times
Monday to Friday: 10.00-12.00 and 4.00-6.00

Vaporetto Fondamente Nuove

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The Oratorio
Opposite the church, it has a cycle of paintings by Palma il Giovanni telling the history of the Crociferi.

Opening times: Friday & Saturday
10.00-1.00,  2.00-7.00

The Oratory now seems to have been acquired by the company that runs the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. There's a new sign and new times and so I look forward to getting inside next trip.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Madonna dell’Orto
14th-15th Centuries
 


this church now has its own page
 

Miracoli
Pietro Lombardo and sons 1481-90
 


History

A shrine was built near here in 1408 to house a painting of the Virgin commissioned by Francesco Amadi, on the walls of whose house it hung. This image soon got a reputation for working miracles and the funds that it generated allowed the building of a small wooden church squeezed into the same campo. Work began in 1481 on the present church and continued into the early 1490s. It was also funded by Angelo Amadi, the nephew of Francesco Amadi who had had the icon painted. The uncle had also been married to noted beauty Elena Badoer. The church was designed by Pietro Lombardo and embellished with carvings by him, his sons, and their workshop. A year into the building work it was decided to remove the church from parish control and hand it over to an order of nuns. The Amadi family house nearby was given to Franciscan nuns of the Order of Poor Clares and twelve nuns came from the convent of Santa Chiara on Murano.  The church has remained virtually untouched, only cleaned.

The church
The arms of the Amadi family are to be seen over the door. After admiring the handsome marble-clad exterior - unusually you can admire all four sides - you'll almost be prepared for the interior. Almost. Much rhapsodising and plenty of purple prose have been devoted to this interior, using phrases like 'renaissance jewel box', but you'll forgive it when you get inside and sit and wonder. The space consists of a single nave with a wooden barrel vault and a chancel up a steep flight of steps with a sacristy below. No columns to complicate the space and add rhythm and no great paintings. It's not the details that appeal, it's simply the perfectly-proportioned whole, as you are enclosed by the polychrome marble patterns and porphyry and admire the fine carving skills of the Lombardi. It's very reminiscent of San Miniato in Florence, but so much smaller. The railings of the the staircase up to the chancel have small statues of the Virgin and the Angel of the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel, and Saints Francis and Clare, all by Tulio Lombardo.
The miracle-working painting of The Virgin and Child by Niccolo di Pietro is above the altar. On either side of the altar are bronze statues of Saint Peter and Saint Anthony Abbot. They are by Vittoria, who was a pupil of the Lombardi, and are the only later additions to their work. Until the nineteenth century a nuns' passageway linked the church's gallery to the nearby convent which was also the work of the Lombardi, but which was almost totally destroyed in 1810.

Marbles list

The marbles used on the exterior are pavonazzetto, broccatello rosso, veronese, porphyry, verde antico, alabastro-pecorella and serpentino.

Lost art
A Giovanni Bellini triptych depicting St Jerome with Sts Francis and Clare, which once adorned the left hand side of the nave here, is now lost. A two-panel Annunciation by Bellini’s studio
(but once thought to be by Carpaccio) which once formed the outer doors of the organ here is now in the Accademia. The marble walls in the painting echo the walls of the church.

The church in art
The Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the apse of Santa Maria Nuova by Bernardo Bellotto (see below). Two small paintings of the rear of the Miracoli, one called A Market Scene, by James Holland are in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight. He painted quite a few versions of the same scene (similar to Bellotto's)  in oil and watercolour, one of which was owned by Ruskin's father.

The church in films
Orson Welles’ 1951 film version of Othello sets the wedding of Desdemona and Othello in this church (see right). The flower shop in the film Bread and Tulips in the campo behind the Miracoli is an invention. Donald Sutherland walks past the church in Don't Look Now, and you can see how grubby it was before its 1997 restoration (see further below).


Opening times
Monday to Saturday: 10.00 to 5.00
Sundays: closed

A Chorus Church


Vaporetto Rialto


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Engraving by Antonio Lazzari c.1830 What is going on in the foreground?!   

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 






And this one has a bonfire and a pair of copulating dogs, of course.

 

San Bonaventura
1620 - 23
 

History
The church and its adjacent monastery were built on reclaimed land in 1620 by a Franciscan order called the Reformati, originally from San Francesco del Deserto on the lagoon, with the help of the Zen family. The church was consecrated in 1623. The complex was suppressed in 1810. 

Following use as a factory the Countess Paolina Giustinian-Recanati bought the complex in 1859 and established a convent for barefoot Carmelite nuns, with the church serving as the convent's chapel. It became a
children's hospital in the early 20th Century.

Interior

Square and small and pale. There are two deepish side chapels, each with marble-surrounded painted altarpieces. A choir and apse with a bench around it. A ceiling panel over the nave shows the Madonna and Child giving the scapula to a donor nun and friar, the nun pointing to an image of church.

Lost Art

Works by Bassano and Tintoretto were to be found in the church before suppression. Giambattista Tiepolo's Santa Margherita di Cortona once here, is now in San Michele in Isola.

Vaporetto
Sant’Alvise

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A detail from the Ughi map of 1729
showing the church under its previous name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 


 

San Canzian
Antonio Gaspari 1706
 


History

Tradition has it that the first church on this site was built in 864 by refugees from Aquileia, but the earliest printed reference is dated 1041. The church is dedicated to Saints Canziano, Canzio, and Canzionello - all three were martyred in Aquileia in 304 - but Venetian dialect has blended them into one. Restored in the early 1300s and reconsecrated in 1351, with much rebuilding thereafter. The current church dates from a rebuilding in the mid-16th Century. The façade was built in 1706 by Antonio Gaspari, and paid for by Michele Tommasi whose bust is over the main entrance.

Interior
The church is usually entered by either of the two smaller doors opposite each other in the side walls of the bottom of the nave, which thereby form a sort of 'entrance corridor' effect at the very back of the church. These doors also let in a fair amount of the noise of the campo and the market stalls, adding to this church's feel of being open and used. The pale-pink walls balance out some somewhat dark and dingy paintings and the heavily-carved side chapels to make for a quietly quite pleasing interior. The Widmann family chapel to the right of the chancel may be by Longhena.

Art highlights
There are altarpieces by Bartolomeo Letterini, Domenico Zanchi and Nicolò Renieri, amongst other equally lesser-known 18th Century artists. There is also a chapel containing the sarcophagus, and a statue, of St Massimo.

Campanile 24m (78ft) manual bells
Restored in the 16th Century, including replacement of the belfry.

The church in art
John Singer Sargent Leaving Church, Campo San Canciano, Venice 1882
(see below)

Opening times

Vaporetto
Ca d'Oro

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San Felice
1531-35
 


History

Founded, it is said, in 966 by the Gallina family and dedicated to St Felix of Nola. The first documentary evidence is from 1133. After restoration it was consecrated in 1267. Danger of collapse led to the building of the present church in 1531 to a design reminiscent of Codussi's San Giovanni Grisostomo below. Reconsecrated in 1624. Closed by Napoleon and reopened as a parish church in 1810. Amongst the relics here are bones of St Felix and a clod of earth stained with Christ's blood.

Interior
A radical reworking of the interior in 1810 resulted in the replacement of the 16th Century altars with inferior modern examples, my guide book says, somewhat sniffily, but this church is
 actually an unexpected calm Istrian-stone gem on the inside, if you can get in, reminiscent of Brunelleschi. Also a plaque over the sacristy door commemorating Pope Clement XIII, who was baptised here in 29th March 1693 as plain Carlo Rezzonico.

Art highlights
There's an early Tintoretto, San Demetrio and a Donor of the Chigi Family over the 3rd altar on the right. Also five figures carved by Giulio del Moro (late 16th Century).

Lost art
A Giovanni Bellini altarpiece which was commissioned by the Cinturari (guild of belt-makers) for this church is now lost.

Campanile
22m (72ft) manual bells
Not easily seen.

Opening times

9.00 -12.00 (Not Monday) & 4.00 -7.00

Vaporetto
Ca d'Oro

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San Geremia
Carlo Corbellini 1753-1760
 


History

The church was founded in the 11th Century by Mauro Tosello and his son Bartolomeo, who used it to house the arm of St Bartholomew that they had brought from Apulia in 1043. The church was dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah, an old testament figure, like the dedicatees of San Giobbe and San Moise, reflecting the influence of the orthodox church in Venice. Rebuilt 1174 by Doge Sebastiano Ziani and reconsecrated in 1292. Fra Bartolomeo Fonzio Veneziano preached here, before being accused of heresy and drowned at the Lido with a stone around his neck on 4th August 1562. The present church dates from a complete rebuilding, following demolition, by the Brescian priest/architect Carlo Corbellini from 1753. The first mass was celebrated on 27th April 1760, while this work continued.

The church

Two marble façades of similar design,
completed in 1871 to replace those damaged by fire following an Austrian bombardment in 1849. They were paid for by Baron Pasquale Revoltella. One faces onto the campo (see right) where the famous bull-hunt was held (possibly due the proximity of the Spanish embassy, hence Lista di Spagna) and is somewhat crowded on the left by the Palazzo Labia. The other one, damaged by a mad arsonist who set fire to wooden scaffolding in 1998 and still being restored, faces the Cannaregio Canal (with detail of damage right).

The interior
The church is entered from the campo of the same name, and you actually thereby enter from the right-hand side.  A Greek cross, quite bare with dark altars and minor art There's a dome at the crossing and semi-domes at the end of each arm cross, the interior can best be described as dirty white with buff-coloured detailing.  A chapel off to the left, built in 1863, contains the 'partially incorrupt' body of the Sicilian Saint Lucy, stolen from Constantinople by Enrico Dandolo in 1204. It was placed in a chapel here which was embellished with elements from the Palladio-designed chapel in the church of Santa Lucia when that church was demolished to make way for the railway station. The body was stolen again, from this church, in 1981, by gunmen who lost the saint's head, which was dislodged before they got out of the church. The body was found a month later in a hunting lodge. Saint Lucy's attribute in paintings is her eyes, usually on a plate, placed there after they were plucked out as punishment for her refusal of a marriage offer. Her face is now covered by a relatively recent silver mask - until the 1960s you could still gaze into her empty sockets. but her withered hands and feet are still horribly visible. Other remains the church possesses include bones of the Saints Thomas and Bartholomew and a rib of Mary Magdalene.

Art highlights
Four works by Palma Giovane, including a quite nice Annunciation, and The Coronation of Venice by St Magnus, with the Madonna described in one guidebook as 'passable'.  A sign promises a Tintoretto in a museum to the right of Saint Lucy's chapel, but this seems now to be a gift shop.




Campanile 43m 140 ft manual bells
One of the oldest left in the city and all that remains of the 12th Century church, topped by an octagonal tambour that's probably a little later but is visible in Jacopo De Barbari's map of 1500 (see right) which shows the older church.





The church in art
The Grand Canal at the Entrance to the Cannaregio Canal by Michele Marieschi, painted in 1741-2 shows the old church.


 

 

 

 

 

 


 



A Canaletto view (now owned by the Queen) painted 1726-27 also shows the old church (see above), whilst an almost identical view by Guardi from 1769 (in the Munich Alte Pinakothek) (see  below) shows the shell of the old church before the rebuilding.

Fire on the Church of San Geremia by Luigi Querena, a night-time view, commemorates the Austrian bombardment of 1849.

There are two watercolours and an oil painting (of 1913) of wide views of Palazzo Labia and San Geremia by John Singer Sargent. Also a closer-cropped watercolour of the join between the palazzo and the church.

Palazzo Labia by John Piper has the church's façade in the foreground. He also painted the church's Grand Canal-side aspect.

Opening times
Monday to Saturday: 8.30 to 12.00, 4.00 to 6.00
Sundays: 9.30 to 12.15

Vaporetto Guglie

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A photo from 1853 showing the canal-facing façade before
the work of 1871. And the towers of the ghetto beyond.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A print from around 1717 showing the old church, and the
bull- hunt in the campo.

 

 

San Giobbe
Antonio Gambello/Pietro Lombardo 1450-93
 


The church

A Franciscan oratory and hospice dedicated to the Old Testament saint Job (Giobbe) was founded here in 1378, begun by Giovanni Contarini, who lived nearby, and completed by his daughter Lucia. The oratory became famous for the fiery preaching of Bernardino of Siena on his visit of 1443, but was becoming too small. Doge Christoforo Moro put up the money to build a new church in the preacher’s honour, and work on the present church was begun in a gothic style in 1450 by Antonio Gambello. Very little of his work remains - the double windows on the south side, the exterior pilasters of the apse, the ante-sacristy (now called the Contarini Chapel), the campanile and the remaining wing of the adjoining cloister. In 1470 Pietro Lombardo was called in to finish the work and this, his first job in Venice, is one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture in the city – the main doorway on the façade (see photo right) is an especial treat in a Florentine style. The window and three statues (now in the sacristy) are his work too. The church was consecrated in 1493.

The church and convent were suppressed by Napoleon in 1810, and the convent demolished two years later. The grounds and vineyard were laid out as Venice's Botanical Gardens in 1812. Much damaged by Austrian bombardment being so close to the mainland, the gardens reopened but closed in 1870.

The interior
Lombardo’s calm interior has chapels on the left side and used to have three major altarpieces (see Lost art) on the right, and so large and impressive were they (complete with illusionist depth) that they balanced the depth of the real chapels on the left – a neat trick as the right hand side of the nave couldn’t have protruding chapels as it backed onto the existing cloister. The carved stone frames remain, including that for Bellini's painting (possibly carved by Pietro Lombardo, or if not by a talented assistant) with its characteristic dolphins, a detail repeated in the painting. The early renaissance style of the interior, with its decorated cupola, gives the church a bit of  a Brunelleschi feel, which is only enhanced by the polychrome della Robbia roundels in the vault of the very Florentine Martini Chapel. The altarpiece is more of Lombardo’s work, and the very deep choir is reminiscent of San Francesco della Vigna. Doge Christoforo Moro, and his wife Cristina Sanudo, are buried in the church, whose building he funded. He is reputed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Othello.

Art
The Contarini Chapel, through a door on the right, is a remainder of Gambello's original building and contains a pleasing Nativity by Savoldo, said to have been over-restored. Beyond is the sacristy which has it's original wood furniture and painted ceiling panels, and an Annunciation by Antonio Vivarini that's no great shakes. The paintings here are all less than middling, unfortunately.


Lost art
The three altarpieces mentioned above were Giovanni Bellini’s Virgin and Child with Saints (Francis, John the Baptist, Job, Dominic, Sebastian and Louis of Toulouse )(see right) (also known as The San Giobbe Altarpiece, patron unknown), Carpaccio’s Presentation of Christ in the Temple (inspired by the Bellini) and Marco Basaiti’s Agony in the Garden. They must have been a pretty impressive sight, all in the same small church, but now they are the three highlights of the second room in the Accademia, hung on the wall opposite the bench in the same order that they appeared in the church (Carpaccio, Basaiti, Bellini). They were looted by Napoleon and returned to the Accademia in 1815. Their aching lack in San Giobbe only adds to the slightly forlorn feel of this church in this somewhat backwaterish part of Venice.

A Transfiguration of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, now in the Correr Museum, may have come from here or San Salvatore, as both churches are recorded as having had a Bellini depicting this scene.

Campanile 46m (150ft) electromechanical bells
Erected between 1451 and 1464, with restoration work in 1903, 1905 and 1982. They have a somewhat flat sound which can best be described as doinky.

Opening times
May 2016 The Chorus website has been reporting for more than a year that San Giobbe is closed for 'importants restoration works'.

A Chorus Church

Vaporetto
Ponte dei Tre Archi

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Ruskin said
Its principal entrance is a very fine example of early renaissance sculpture. Note in it, especially, its beautiful use of the flower of the convolvulus. There are said to be still more beautiful examples of the same period, in the interior. The cloister, though much defaced, is of the Gothic period, and worth a glance.

And he says that the Virgin and Child by Bellini is Alone worth a modern exhibition building, hired fiddlers and all. The third best Bellini in Venice, and probably the world.
 

San Giovanni Grisostomo
Mauro Codussi 1497-1504
 


The Church
The church is one of the very few in Western Europe named for the 4th Century patriarch of
Constantinople (Chrysostom means Golden-Tongued, see below for one of his homilies) reflecting the strength of the Byzantine influence in Venice when the first church on the site was built in 1080. This original church burned down in 1475. Work began on the replacement in 1497. Like San Zaccaria this church was designed by Mauro Codussi (it was supposedly his last in Venice) and it shares that church's curvy shapes, whilst the façade is almost identical to his one for San Michele in Isola. It shares the Greek cross plan of his Santa Maria Formosa, but is much more vertical due to the narrowness of the site. Codussi died in 1504, but work here was completed by his son Domenico, with consecration in 1525. The façade was damaged during an air-raid in February 1918, and there'd also been a near miss on 13th September 1916 (see photo right).

The interior

The interior is compact, cosy and welcoming, but usually noisey from the busy outside. A Greek cross plan ringed by apses, the pleasing proportions derive from Platonic ideals of perfect geometric form and balance. Codussi's original barrel vault over the choir was unfortunately replaced with a flat roof to help the lighting. But this remains one of those churches where darkness and unrestored paintings conspire to keep you squinting and a little frustrated. And talking of lighting - the light fittings in here bear an unfortunate but strong resemblance to condoms. If you can look at them without smirking you're a stronger person than I.

The church in fiction
In A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva chapter 2 introduces our hero, Israeli secret-service agent Gabriel Allon, working at his day job - restoring the Bellini altarpiece in San Giovanni Grisostomo, and living in the Ghetto in Venice. The topographic and art-historical detail is spot on, but the action soon moves to Vienna.

Art highlight
The altarpiece (on the right as you enter) is Saints Jerome, Christopher and Louis of Toulouse (see right) from 1513. It's said by some to be Bellini's last great masterpiece, and even his very last work. It's not as immediately striking as some of the mature-period gems in other churches in Venice, but its characteristic serenity has grown on me with repeated visits. The use of space is oddly appealing too: just because Saint Jerome is outside in the wilderness, reading with his
book propped on a handy fig tree, that doesn't mean that the other two saints have to suffer the elements too. Saint Louis is the saint for whom the church of Sant'Alvise was built.

Other art highlights
The Sebastiano del Piombo painting over the
high altar is of Saints and Mary Magdalene. Henry James thought the Magdalene looked like a 'dangerous but most valuable acquaintance' (see detail right). (She bares more than a resemblance to Sebastiano's Portrait of A Woman as a Wise Virgin in Washington, I think.) This is Sebastiano's only altarpiece in Venice, and was long thought to be a Giorgione, or even by Vasari. It's one of those altarpieces that's better appreciated in photographs, though, because in situ it's not that easy to see. The Tullio Lombardo relief of The Coronation of the Virgin you can get close enough to, though, and it's very fine.

Saint John Chrysostom said
It is foolishness and a public madness to fill the cupboards with clothing and allow men who are created in God’s image and likeness to stand naked and trembling with cold, so that they can hardly hold themselves upright.
Yes, you say, he is cheating and he is only pretending to be weak and trembling. What! Do you not fear that lightning from Heaven will fall on you for this word? Indeed, forgive me, but I almost burst from anger.
Only see, you are large and fat, you hold drinking parties until late at night, and sleep in a warm, soft bed. And do you not think of how you must give an account of your misuse of the gifts of God?
21st homily on 1 Corinthians

Ruskin said
One of the most important in Venice. It is early Renaissance, containing some good sculpture, but chiefly notable as containing a noble Sebastian del Piombo, and a John Bellini, which a few years hence, unless it be "restored," will be esteemed one of the most precious pictures in Italy, and among the most perfect in the world. John Bellini is the only artist who appears to me to have united, in equal and magnificent measures, justness of drawing, nobleness of colouring, and perfect manliness of treatment, with the purest religious feeling. He did, as far as it is possible to do it, instinctively and unaffectedly, what the Caracci only pretended to do. Titian colours better, but has not his piety. Leonardo draws better, but has not his colour. Angelico is more heavenly, but has not his manliness, far less his powers or art.

Henry James said
There is another noble John Bellini, one of the very few in which there is no Virgin, at San Giovanni Crisostomo - a St. Jerome, in a red dress, sitting aloft upon the rocks and with a landscape of extraordinary purity behind him. The absence of the peculiarly erect Madonna makes it an interesting surprise among the works of the painter and gives it a
somewhat less strenuous air. But it has brilliant beauty and the St. Jerome is a delightful old personage.

Campanile 21m (68ft) manual bells

The original detached campanile, dating from 1080, was demolished in 1532 when the calle was broadened, but can be seen in Carpaccio's The Miracle of the Holy Cross at the Rialto Bridge in the Accademia. The current one was built 1552-1590 and is nicely decorated around the base.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 10.00-6.30,
Sunday 11.30-6.30

Vaporetto Rialto


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San Girolamo
Domenico Rossi, early 18th Century
 


History

A convent with a small oratory was founded here in 1375 by Augustinian nuns originally from Santa Maria degli Angeli on Murano. They fled here from Treviso, escaping the invading Hungarians lead by King Lajos. Later that century the convent was enlarged and a church built. This work was completed in 1425 but in 1456 these buildings were damaged by fire, which resulted in more rebuilding and further enlargement. The present church dates from the rebuilding by Domenico Rossi in the early 18th Century (following yet another fire in 1705) with interior decoration by Francesco Zugno. The new church was reconsecrated on the 15th June 1751. Both church and convent were suppressed by the French in 1807. From 1840-1855 the church was used as the steam mill of a sugar factory installed in the convent and a chimney was installed in the campanile (see right). It's also said to have once been used as a brick factory. The church was restored and reopened in 1952, (see black & white pre-restoration photos far below) which show evidence of much adjustment to doors and windows). The campanile's long gone (but still visible in the photo from the end of the 19th Century (see far below left).

Interior
Tall, bare, white-walled and aisleless with much rising damp crumble at base of walls. Four confessionals towards the back.

Art
Some small painted panels including a quite nice St Jerome in his study (see right) and an action-packed Ascension on the right. A long panel on the left of the choir with a smaller Last Supper on the right. Some dingier ones on the left hand of the nave. I need to identify these.

Contains/contained works by Palma il Giovanne, according to the old sign on the wall.

Lost art
The Holy Father Blessing by Pier Maria Pennacchi (previously thought to be by Alvise Vivarini) came from the ceiling of the oratory of the Scuola di San Girolamo (now demolished), which was behind the church.  The panel was still in situ in 1843, but was removed shortly afterwards and passed into private hands. Bought by the Accademia in 1899 for 1,000 lire. It has been installed in the centre of the carved wooden ceiling of gilded cherubim in Room 1 there.

The nearby (now demolished) Scuola di San Girolamo had two scenes from the legend of St Jerome by Giovanni Bellini, now lost.



The church in art

Rio St. Geronimo by Franz Richard Unterberger (detail left) shows the church with its campanile, but without the wall now enclosing the campo in front of the façade.

Opening times
Only open for services.
I managed a visit on a Sunday morning as the priest was preparing (see photo right).

Vaporetto Ponte dei Tre Archi

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San Leonardo
Bernardo Maccaruzzi  1794
 


History

Built in 1025 and consecrated in 1343. In 1260 the Scuola di Santa Maria della Carità, the first Scuola Grande was founded here. It later moved to the complex of Santa Maria della Carità which is now part the Accademia Galleries. The present church dates from a rebuilding of 1794 by Bernardino Maccaruzzi. Suppressed by the French in 1807, and having since been used as a coal warehouse and for band practice, it was a community centre and now sometimes houses exhibitions. Almost nothing remains of the internal features of the church, just mouldings, capitals and a couple of doorcases.

Campanile
Fell down on the 24th August 1595, damaging 12 houses and part of the church and killing 10 people.

Opening times
For exhibitions.

Vaporetto
San Marcuola

                                                

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Interior photo taken by Michelle Lovric during the 2009 Biennale.

San Marcuola
Antonio Gaspari and Giorgio Massari  1663-1736
 


History
Legend has a church here since 569, dedicated to Santi Ermagora e Fortunato which became, by the mysterious workings of Venetian dialect, San Marcuola. The first documented mention is 1069. This church was famous for housing the right hand of John the Baptist - the one with which he'd baptised Christ. Rebuilt after a fire, which was caused by an earthquake, and reconsecrated in 1343. Barbari's map of 1500 shows the church
perpendicular to the Grand Canal with the apse to the north (see right). This church also had a hermit's cell over the door in which three (and later six) women were walled up. They moved to the church of the Eremite when San Marcuola became unstable and needed to be rebuilt. This work began in 1663 with the chancel, and then the rest of the church, orientated parallel to the Grand Canal this time, with its apse to the east. The architect was Giorgio Gaspari, who died in 1730, after which the work was completed by Giorgio Massari.

Giustiniana Wynne was baptised here. She being the Venetian-born daughter of an English duke and a writer, famous for her friendships with Casanova and (more scandalously) patrician Andrea Memmo.  Her life  and affair with the latter being the subject of Andrea Di Robilant's book A Venetian Affair.

The church
The façade was to look very like that of the Pieta, but it remains unfinished above the plinth, with the ledges that were to hold up the marble cladding now usually full of pigeons.

Interior and art highlights

Rectangular with pairs of altars at each corner, the altars having statues rather than paintings, by Gian Maria Morleiter and his workshop. He is also responsible for the statues of the church's saints flanking the tabernacle on the high altar. There's a ceiling painting of them too, by Franceso Migliori who has other works here. The painting on the ceiling of the apse is upside down, meaning you have to be standing with your back to the altar to see it the right way up - odd that. There's a Tintoretto Last supper from 1547 on the left wall of the apse, the first of his many cenacoli and so still quite Titian-looking.

Lost art
Tintoretto's Christ Washing the Feet of his Disciples (which was part of a pair with the Last Supper still here and mentioned above) is now in the Prado. The painting was removed from San Marcuola by the mid 17th Century according to Carlo Ridolfi, who painted a copy which remains in San Marcuola. There is disagreement over whether the Prado version, or another very similar in the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, is the one from San Marcuola. Another Tintoretto, the very Veronese-like St Helen with four other saints and a donor adoring the Cross, now in the Brera, used to be thought to have come from here, but that theory is now rejected as the painting looks too early to match with the documentation cited.



The church in art
Giovanni Pividor San Marcuola con la neve, a print in the Correr Museum (see right).

Local legends
A parish priest is said to have been dragged from his bed and given a good kicking by the corpses buried here after declaring in a sermon that he didn't believe in ghosts, saying: 'Where the dead are, there they stay'.

Campanile
Rebuilt in 1728, the remaining lower portion is now a house.

Opening times
Monday to Saturday 9.30 - 11.30

Vaporetto
San Marcuola

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Continued on  Cannaregio page 2




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