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Devotional confraternities of laymen were common in late medieval Italy and called things like confraternita and compagnia. Scuola was the term applied in Venice, meaning 'school' and deriving from the Latin word 'scola' meaning corporation, and applied to various religious, charitable and professional organisations. They were placed under the secular jurisdiction of the Venetian government, so their religious devotion had something of a civic character, and so they were seen as agents of social cohesion rather than potential discord. Membership was broad-based and usually included women and ranged from wealthy cittadini to humble artisans. Artist members included Giovanni Bellini who belonged to the Scuola di San Cristoforo, Pietro Lombardo to the Scuola di San Girolamo, and Palma Vecchio to the Scuola di San Pietro Martire. Only members of Venice's hereditary patriciate and the clergy were excluded from full membership of the scuole, yet they often associated in an honorary capacity. Only vagrants, beggars, prostitutes, and other social outcasts were totally excluded

In 1467, the scuole in Venice were officially organised by merging the artisan and common scuole into the Scuole Piccole (Small Schools) and the Scuole Grandi (Great Schools). The latter were created from the previously-named Scuole dei Battuti (of the Beaten) who saw ritual self-flagellation as an act of penitence for the redemption of the individual and the community. This tendency in northern Italy had sprung from the late-13th century mood of doom and repentance, following years of famine, plague and civil strife. As the desire for expiation waned this flaying became more ritual in nature, but poorer scuola members could be paid to undertake the punishment, or forced with the threat of withdrawal of charitable payouts. There were also scuole for Venice's citizens from elsewhere, like Greece, Germany, Dalmatia (the Schiavoni), Florence and Bergamo. At the funeral of Cardinal Zen in 1501, Marin Sanudo counted 210 confraternity banners.

The Scuole Grande all had their own buildings, built in the 15th and 16th Centuries, the Scuole Piccolo tended not to. The earliest-founded scuola grande were Santa Maria dell Carità and San Marco in 1260, then San Giovanni Evangelista in 1261 and Santa Maria della Misericordia in 1308. These were the original four, to which were added the Scuola di San Rocco in 1478 and in 1552 the Scuola di San Teodoro. Then in 1767, only thirty years before the fall of the Republic of Venice,  the Scuola dei Carmini, which had been founded in 1593, was added to the list. There were, briefly, nine, and 925 scuole piccole.

 

Membership of the Scuole Grandi was limited, the Scuola di San Marco was allowed 600 members and the others 550. The government of the scuole involved four major officials - the leader (guardian grande), his assistant (vicario), a record keeper (scrivano), and a master of the novices (guardian da matin). Two further deacons (degani) assisted with keeping contact with the brothers, who could be scattered all around Venice's sestieri. The officers met regularly in committee (banca) and by the early 15th century all officers had, by law, to be native-born citizens of Venice.

Like many other religious institutions the scuole were suppressed by Napoleon in 1806, with only San Rocco and the Carmini allowed to keep their art intact. But later in the 19th century some were re-established, including the Scuola San Giovanni Evangelista.

This is the newest page on this site and hence doesn't have the benefit of the years of honing that the others have had. More obscure scuole will no doubt be added, sites visited, books read and entries improved, as the years pass, leaves and calendar pages fall, etc.


The Scuole Grande
Carità Santa Maria della Carità
Carmini
Misericordia Santa Maria della Misericordia
San Giovanni Evangelista
San Marco
San Rocco
San Teodoro

The Scuole Piccole
Albanesi
Mercanti
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
San Fantin
 


 

Carità


History
In 1260 the Scuola di Santa Maria della Carità, the first Scuola Grande, was founded in the church of San Leonardo. The scuola then rented rooms from, and near, the monastery of Santa Maria della Carita, and later bought land and buildings from the monastery. By 1343 it had two meeting rooms, one above the other, and this may have been the original model for later scuole buildings - comprising of an upper meeting room (sala) and a lower meeting room (androne). In the mid 15th century an extension was added here as an albergo for the meeting of the banca. This building's façade can be seen in the background of Canaletto’s Stonemason’s Yard.

Titian was later commissioned to paint a Presentation of the Virgin on one wall of the Sala dell’Albergo. From this room the banca distributed alms and choose young women to receive dowry contributions. The only additions after 1560 were in the mid 18th century when Giorgio Massari changed the façade and Barbardino Maccaruzzi designed the curved double staircase.
In the early 19th century the scuola and the adjacent church and convent buildings were transformed into the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Work began in 1811, headed by Giannantonio Selva, and the gallery opened in 1817. 

Interior (The Accademia Gallery)
The gallery contains many works from the suppressed and demolished churches mentioned elsewhere on this website. You enter the gallery through what was the scuola entrance.  The old postcard (see right) shows the buildings before the coming of the vaporetto stop, and also shows the original iron bridge. The carved panel over the main doorway (The Coronation of the Virgin by Bon) and the statue group on the roof are both long gone. The panel is now in the Salute and the statue is to be found in the Giardini Pubblici. Jan Morris says of the latter "the silliest lion [in Venice] stands in the Public Gardens, removed there from the façade of the Accademia: Minerva is riding this footling beast side-saddle, and on her helmet is perched another anatomical curiosity - an owl with knees."
The first room at the top of the staircase as you enter the galleries is the former chapter house. It has a gilded ceiling said to be by Marco Cozzi. It is one of the two rooms where the scuola building's original features can be seen. The other is the albergo, which is adjacent to the chapter house, but comes at the end of the gallery circuit. It has surviving benches and a 15th-century ceiling, along with Titian's very architectural Presentation of the Virgin (see right) in its original position.

Lost art
Jacobello del Fiore painted large frescos of apostles for this scuola in 1418.
The scuola had a Giovanni Bellini Madonna and Child with a Glory of Red Cherubim, now in the Accademia. As is the Fathers of the Church Polyptych, which Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna painted in 1446 for the sala dell'albergo here.

Opening times
Monday 8.15-2.00
Tuesday-Sunday 8.15-7.15

Vaporetto Accademia

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Art highlight
A competition to paint The Presentation of the Virgin, as part of a sequence devoted to the Life of the Virgin, had been won in 1504 by Pasqualino Veneto, a minor artist, who had died soon after. It took the board of the Scuola another 30 years to finally commission Titian, on 29th August 1534. His main challenges were the size and having to incorporate a door. The composition is traditional, rather than innovative, and this may be down to the commissioners, who may have even insisted on retaining Pasqualino's original composition. The obelisk, a frequent feature of Presentations, is traditionally symbolic of the sun, and by association Christ as the light of the world. The painting is lit from the left, reflecting the presence of a window to the left which had been adjusted during painting by the officers for this purpose. Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, can be seen in the background leading a procession of officers of the Scuola. Amongst the portraits identified amongst the staffage at various times are Bembo, Aretino, Titian (he's the old woman, he's in the clouds!) and his daughter Lavinia. The hag with her eggs and chickens is also much discussed in the literature with Panofsky calling her 'the horrid egg woman'. She may represent unconverted Judaism, she is said to echo similar figures in Cima's Presentation and Carpaccio's Reception of the English Ambassadors from the Saint Ursula cycle, now in a room nearby. In 1572 the scuola cut another door through the painting, on the left.

 

Carmini


History

Founded in 1594 under Doge Pasquale Cicogna, this scuola was the last to be recognized as a Scuola Grande in 1597.  Initially it had used an altar in the church of Carmini (the third one on the right) and a room in the monastery. These rooms changed frequently and were often found wanting. In 1625 the scuola at last took possession of a site to build its own premises, but a couple of years of legal wrangling with remaining tenants and the sellers of the land followed. These continued even after the scuola building was erected. Designed by Francesco Caustello, an architect of whom nothing is now known, it wasn't structurally completed until 1636 and publicly inaugurated in October 1638. Further purchases of property blocking expansion followed in 1668, and the demolition of a decrepit pharmacy called Alle Tre Frecce (the Three Arrows). For the next two years Baldassare Longhena, architect of the Salute and the Ca' Rezzonico, was employed to expand and embellish in a Baroque style.

Interior
After the little room where your money is taken you pass the staircase and enter the chapel, which is not a highlight. The monochromes all around, by Nicolò Bambini and his son Giovanni are rare, but lack colour.

Up the tunnel-vaulted monumental staircase typical of a Scuola Grande - double becoming single, but remaining the same width. It was designed by Longhena and finished after his death by Gaspari. Stucco sirens progress to golden angels and putti, mermaids and eagles by Alvise Bossi 1728/9.
On the first floor the fine chapter house (Sala Capitolare) has ceiling panels by Tiepolo (1739–1749) with stucco work by Abbondio Stazio. The central canvas, the last to be installed, in 1749, depicts Saint Simon Stock receiving the Scapular from the Virgin. A scapular can mean a cloak, but here it is a loop of cloth which the friar wears hanging from his neck, bearing a pouch containing a holy image. In four more panels angels carry scapulars and flowers among the clouds, and the four corner lunettes represent the virtues. To appreciate the panels you need to stand in the centre and revolve. There are uninteresting dark 18th-century panels on the walls by Anonymous, Antonio Zanchi, Gregorio Lazzarini and Amedio Enz. The altar dedicated to the virgin has a statue of Tthe Madonna and Child Offering the Scapular, by Bernardino da Lugano.

To left of the altar is the door to the Hall of the Archives, which has walnut dossals and cupboards. The carved figures are possibly by Giacomo Piazzetta, father of Giambattista Piazzetta who painted the relatively calm Judith and Holofernes (him with his head still on, lying in a drunken stupor) on the left, high up as you go into the Hall of the Hostel. It's looking clean as it was restored in 2014. There are two painted panels on the walls by Gaetano Zompini, with two more by Giustino  Menescardi who did all nine on the ceiling. 
Left of staircase is the door to the Sala dell'Albergo, also known as the Hall of the Hostel, where pilgrims once found shelter. The main ceiling panel by Padovanino (Alessandro Varotari) is of The Assumption of the Virgin (1634-8). It was moved in here, a century after its completion, when Tiepolo's panels were installed, he having insisted on replacing it, not just surrounding it, with his own work. It is surrounded by oval paintings of the Four Evangelists and Four Prophets associated with the Virgin by Giustino Menescardi. The wall paintings include an Adoration of the Shepherds by Ambrogio Bon and two by Antonio Balestra, on the wall towards the Tiepolo Hall - a superior Joseph's Dream (see photo below) and a Rest on the Flight into Egypt both of 1703.
 


 

Opening times
Daily 11.00-17.00 (closes 16.00 November - March)

Vaporetto Ca' Rezzonico or San Basilio

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The scuola has a website

Bibliography
Scuola Grande dei Carmini by Umberto Franzoi and Franca Lugato  (Vianello 2003)
Available from the ticket desk, in English and other languages.
 



 


 

 Misericordia


History

The  Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Misericordia was founded on the 8th of September 1261, with the old scuola hall built on land provided by the Augustinian monastery of Santa Maria Valverde from 1310, with rebuilding in the 1440s financed by the Bon family. This involved expanding forward into the campo and erecting a new façade. It had a Gothic arch with a large miracle-working relief of the Madonna della Misericordia attributed to Bartolomeo Bon installed in 1451.
The arch was demolished in 1612,
and the relief (see right) is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, along with other sculptures from the scuola. The need for expansion (by the 16th century the scuola had 612 members) led to the building of a new scuola to designs by Alessandro Leopardi from 1507. Lack of progress beyond knee height led to Jacopo Sansovino being commissioned to provide a new plan in 1532, but only the ground floor had been erected by the time of his death in 1570.  The confraternity was finally able to move into the new building in 1589.
The old scuola building, first rented to a fodder merchant, became a hospice. It was later used as a theatre. Now it's used as an art restoration centre, for both sculpture and paintings. This video shows the large Titian Presentation at the Temple from the Sala dell'Albergo of the Scuola della Carità (now the Accademia) being brought here for restoration in late 2010.
The new scuola, the huge and unfinished Gothic barn-like building by Sansovino, became in 1634 the guildhall of the silk-cloth weavers' guild who renovated it in 1730. From 1914 it was  used as a gym and was restored recently, at a cost of 10 million euros - funding provided by a private company, with much controversy over their feet-dragging and lack of progress for the four years from 2009. It is to be used for biennale exhibits and the like (see photo right) having reopened fully in March 2016.

Interior
On the ground floor the space is divided into three by large Corinthian columns on tall pedestals (see photo below). Upstairs are frescoes between the windows of the Twelve Major Prophets by Alvise da Friso. Paolo Veronese, Padovanino and Domenico Tintoretto made paintings for the scuola too, some of which are lost. Local  resident Tintoretto used the upper rooms here to paint his huge Paradiso for the Palazzo Ducale.

Ruskin wrote
The church itself is nothing, and contains nothing worth the traveller's time; but the Albergo de' Confratelli della Misericordia (i.e. the old scuola) at its side is a very interesting and beautiful relic of the Gothic Renaissance. Lazari says, "del secolo xiv.;" but I believe it to be later. Its traceries are very curious and rich, and the sculpture of its capitals very fine for the late time. Close to it, on the right-hand side of the canal, which is crossed by the wooden bridge, is one of the richest Gothic doors in Venice (see black and white photo below right) remarkable for the appearance of antiquity in the general design and stiffness of its figures, though it bears its date, 1505. Its extravagant crockets are almost the only features which, but for this written date, would at first have confessed its lateness; but, on examination, the figures will be found as bad and spiritless as they are apparently archaic, and completely exhibiting the Renaissance palsy of imagination.
The general effect is, however, excellent, the whole arrangement having been borrowed from earlier work. The action of the statue of the Madonna, who extends her robe to shelter a group of diminutive figures, representative of the Society for whose house the sculpture was executed, may be also seen in most of the later Venetian figures of the Virgin which occupy similar situations. The image of Christ is placed in a medallion on her breast, thus
fully, though conventionally, expressing the idea of self-support which is so often partially indicated by the great religious painters in their representations of the infant Jesus.
 

Vaporetto Madonna dell'Orto


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There's a Website in Italian





























The old scuola (above) and the new one (below).


 

San Giovanni Evangelista



History

The order's monogram SZ (see right) stands for San Zane, Venetian dialect for Saint John the Evangelist.
The original Order of Flagellants was founded in 1261, making it the third oldest after the Carità and San Marco, founded the year before. They initially met at the church of Sant’Aponal before moving in 1301 to the monastery here.  In 1340 they rented dilapidated rooms on the first floor of the ospizio (asylum) building here from the Badoer family. From the building work of 1349/50 that followed a carved relief, of brothers in cowls kneeling before their Saint, remains, as well as possibly the capitals in the Hall of Columns.
The membership and resources grew and in 1369 the Scuola was given a fragment of the True Cross by Philippe de Mezéires, the French Grand Chancellor of the Order of Jerusalem and Cyprus. So it was decided, following the acquisition of the hall of the old hospice building in 1389, to build permanent. This involved the building of the Hall of Columns and the addition of a second room on the second floor, the Oratorio della Croce, to house the the relic. After 1420 Jacopo Bellini (who become a brother here in 1437) was entrusted to provide a sequence of paintings, to replace earlier works by the likes of Giovanni da Bologna. The end of this cycle of works is commemorated by a plaque below the previous one, dated 8th March 1453 (actually 1454 due to old style calendar).
In 1478-81 Pietro Lombardo built the famous gorgeous marble screen (septum) to enclose the calle (see right) and in the 1490s Marco Codussi was employed to raise the floor of the meeting house, enlarge the windows of the main meeting room, and create a new entrance and double monumental staircase for grand processions, just as he had built at the Scuola di San Marco. (The entrance portal to the Hall of Columns is also sometimes attributed to Gentile Bellini.)
It was at this time that the Scuola commissioned the likes of Perugino, Carpaccio, Gentile Bellini and Mansueti to paint the Miracles of the Cross cycle for the Oratory of the Cross, to celebrate the order's cross relic, which was kept there.
A new wing was built 1540-44 to create a new Albergo to free up the Salla della Croce from its double duties. Titian painted the ceiling of this new albergo around 1544-48.
The Scuola was suppressed by Napoleon in 1806/7 and in 1814 the Austrians used the buildings as a warehouse for the storage of art looted from the other religious institutions. There are surviving plans to build housing here in the mid-19th century. A new confraternity was established in 1929, which was acknowledged by Pope Pius XI on 7th March 1931 and which thrives still.

Interior
Access to the main rooms is up an impressive staircase by Codussi. You first enter the huge and spectacular Sala Capitolare (see photo right) created during the rebuilding work of Giorgio Massari in the early 18th century, including the fine intarsia floor, with large canvases down each side and many panels on the ceiling, all depicting scenes from the life of the Scuola's name saint by the likes of Domenico Tintoretto, Marieschi, Balestra, Guarana, Diziani and even Longhi. Over the altar at the end is a statue of Saint John the Evangelist, with an eagle and cherub, by Giovanni Maria Morleiter around 1732/3. The doors either side lead to the Sacristy and the Chancellery, the so-called Stucco Rooms. One contains reproductions of the Miracles of the Cross cycle painted for the Oratory of the Cross here.

Next there is the Oratory of the Cross which has housed the Relic of the Cross since the late 14th century and is where the Miracles of the Cross cycle by Bellini and Carpaccio and others used to live. From 1784 to 1788 the medieval oratory was transformed by Bernardino Maccaruzzi, a student of Massari, with gilt pastel stucco work and paintings by Francesco Maggiotto on the ceiling. The walls have unspecial works, mostly from the late 16th century, hung to replace the famous Miracles of the Cross cycle.
The small Sala dell'Albergo has four panels by Palma Giovane, just as you might be thinking this might be one place in Venice without examples of his work, but they are odd scenes, and there's also a rather nice 14th-century Byzantine panel of the Madonna Platytera. It was found in the sacristy of the church being used, face down, as a floorboard. It is signed Franciscus Pinsis - not a known name amongst artists of the period. Its asymmetry points to it having been cut down, and a missing Saint Paul on the right.
The even smaller final room, the Archive, is now also called the Guarana Room, as a ceiling panel and two overdoor panels by Jacopo Guarana from 1762 are to be found here.

Lost art
A Madonna of Humility by Giovanni da Bologna (early 1380s) removed to make way for the Jacopo Bellini works mentioned below, is now in the Accademia.
From the commission of 1421 from Jacopo Bellini and his workshop of scenes from the Life of the Virgin, Ridolfi recorded 17 scenes (and an altarpiece) and nine remain. The Annunciation and The Birth of the Virgin, are in the Turin Galleria Sabauda; The Marriage of the Virgin and The Adoration of the Magi were in the Stanley Ross Collection, but were sold by Christie's (as being by Giovanni, following recent scholarly theories that they are the earliest surviving works by him) in May 2019 to ? Five more recent discoveries are The Visitation (see photo below), The Presentation of Christ, The Wedding at Cana, Christ Among the Doctors and The Meeting at the Golden Gate, all now in a private collection in England, possibly that of the Earl of Oxford and Asquith. All nine suffered from intrusive restoration when in the collection of Natale Schiavone, probably by his son Felice, a painter and restorer of old masters. This work has since been reversed in the gallery-owned pictures, but not the majority of those in the English private collection.

Of the nine canvases in the Miracles of the Cross cycle painted for the Oratory of the Cross, the Perugino Miracle of the Vendramin Ships was lost in the 16th century. The rest, as listed below, are in the Accademia.

Vittore Carpaccio The Patriarch of Grado Cures a Demon 1494.

Givanni Mansueti The Miracle of the True Cross at the Campo di San Lio 1494 and The Miraculous Cure of the Daughter of Ser Benvegnudo of San Polo.

Gentile Bellini The Procession of the True Cross in the Piazza San Marco 1496, The Miracle of the True Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo 1500 and The Miraculous Healing of Pietro dei Ludovici (see photo right).

Lazzaro Bastiani The Donation of the Relic of the True Cross c.1495.

Benedetto Diana A Child fallen from a Ladder is Miraculously Saved.

A central ceiling panel painted by Titian for the new Sala dell'Albergo around 1545/6, The Vision of Saint John on Patmos, is now in the National Gallery in Washington. It was surrounded by nineteen smaller panels by Titian and his studio depicting The Four Evangelists, satyrs and putti, which are all in the Accademia, except for the one which is lost. The centrepiece had also been in the Accademia, but they traded it, with three other works, with a dealer for a painting by Bartolommeo Schedoni. It was sold, disappeared, and then as bought by the Kress Foundation, who have loaned it to the Washington National Gallery.

Opening times
The scuola and church are open to the public on variable, but previously announced, days from 9.30 – 1.00 & 2.00 – 5.15
Check their website for details and future open days.

Vaporetto San Toma

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San Marco


History
The confraternity was initially founded in 1260 as a Scuola dei Battuti based in the sestiere of Santa Croce at the church of Santa Croce, later demolished. In 1438 it moved to its present location beside San Zanipolo, on land obtained the previous year from the Dominicans next door. But nothing is known of this 15th-century building as it was burnt down on 31st March 1485 when candles left lit on the altar in the Sal Capitolare set fire to curtains. Paintings by Jacopo Bellini, Gentile Bellini and Bartolomeo Vivarini, commissioned by the officers of San Marco in 1466, also perished in the fire. Given the opportunity the scuola decided to rebuild and expand. By 1490 the new meeting house was largely complete and decoration could begin.
In the early 16th century Gentile Bellini (a member of the scuola) began a series of paintings on The Life of Saint Mark for the Sala dell’Albergo. And around 1523-4 various Venetian artists were commissioned to decorate the Sala Grande. Decoration in the Sala Grande continued into the 17th century. The scuola was suppressed by Napoleon, and the art dispersed, the buildings being converted into a military hospital for the Austrians and eventually becoming part of the Ospedale Civile.

The façade
Pietro Lombardo and collaborator Giovanni di Antonio Buora were responsible for the lower part of the façade. Some sculptures from the old façade were reused - the figure of Charity above the portal and a relief of Saint Mark Venerated by Members of the Confraternity in the lunette below both thought to be by Bartolomeo Bon. At pavement level Tullio Lombardo, Pietro’s son, created the four three-dimensional reliefs of the two false-perspective lions, together with Saint Mark Healing Anianus and Saint Mark Baptizing Anianus. Marco Codussi took over in 1490, designing the upper windows and the top storey of the façade.

The building
The Scuola di San Marco has just recently been renovated and reopened in 2013. Entry is up Mauro Codussi's staircase, destroyed in the 19th century but rebuilt to Codussi's plans. It is accessed through one of the pair of doorways he designed, in the right wall of the also-cleaned large vestibule (see photo below) with its ten Corinthian columns on tall pedestals, which is still the entrance to the hospital.

The Chapter Hall (see photo right) has a spectacular gilded ceiling of 1519 by Vettor Scienzia da Feltre and Lorenzo di Vincenzo da Trento, modelled on the earlier ceiling. Also in  here are some big impressive paintings, and large display cases full of medical bits and books, the Scuola still being owned by the Ospedale. It's good that the tags in the cases already look dusty and fly-blown, like at the best neglected museums of medical equipment. So you find yourself staring at a waffle-ironish thing, thinking how rarely waffles have a pointy design on them, and then you roughly translate the Italian and learn that you're looking at a suppository press. Tintoretto's Saint Mark Rescuing the Slave (1548) (now in the Accademia) once hung on the wall opposite the the altar between the windows overlooking Campo San Zanipolo. Aretino praised it and Ridolfi says that the scuola were divided on whether to accept the picture, thereby angering Tintoretto who took it back and kept it in his house for a time. All of the art in this hall and the Sala dell'Albergo was dispersed in 1797, few originals remain in here. There's a 1622 Wedding at Cana by Padovanino, taken from San Giovanni di Verdura in Padua. Over the altar is Christ in Glory with Saint Mark, Peter and Paul by Palma Giovane, flanked by two scenes relating to Venice's acquisition of Saint Mark's body by Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto. Elsewhere in the hall you'll find Saint Mark Blessing the Origins of Venice by them also, but with more input from Jacopo than the Domenico-dominated pair by the altar.
The smaller Sala dell'Allbergo opens off of the Sala Grande. The carved and gilded ceiling here is by Biagio and Pietro da Faenza and is from 1504. In here digital reproductions replace the paintings originally sited above the bookcases. The Preaching of St Mark by Gentile Bellini (completed by his brother Giovanni in 1515 and the most famous work here, with a weird building in the background looking like a cross between the Basilica San Marco and a teapot) (see photo right) and The Martyrdom of St Mark (started by Giovanni and finished by his pupil Vittore Belliniano in 1526) are on the end and entrance walls respectively. Three more scenes were added by Gentile Bellini's pupil Giovanni Mansueti between 1518 and 1526 which hung on the right side wall, with Paris Bordone's Presentation of the Ring to the Doge of Venice 1534 and Palma Vecchio's St. Mark Saving Venice from the Ship of Demons on the left as you enter.  This last painting was copiously praised by Vasari, but he said that it was by Giorgione in the first (1550) edition of his Lives, switching to Palma in the second (1568) edition. All the originals are elsewhere (see below) but the reproductions here are impressive.

Lost art
The series of paintings of The Life of Saint Mark for the Sala dell’Albergo mentioned above are all now elsewhere. Gentile and Giovanni Bellini’s Preaching of Saint Mark in Alexandria is in the Brera, where it is overwhelmingly huge and impressive at eye level. The figures in the left foreground are most characteristic of Giovanni, who finished the work after the death of his brother. The Martyrdom of Saint Mark in Alexandria by Giovanni Bellini and Vittore Belliniano is in the Accademia. Of the three by Giovanni Mansueti the tall and narrow Saint Mark Baptising Anianus, with its dizzying architecture, is in the Brera, Saint Mark Healing Anianus and Episodes from the Life of Saint Mark are in the Venice Accademia. As are Paris Bordone's Presentation of the Ring to the Doge of Venice of 1534 and Palma Vecchio's Saint Mark Saving Venice from the Ship of Demons, thought to have been completed by Bordone. This last work had been on loan to the Ospedale Civile from 1948 until quite recently. The works now in the Accademia have recently been made into a room reproducing their positioning in the Sala dell'Albergo.
Four by Jacopo Tintoretto: The dramatic Saint Mark Saving the Christian Slave of 1548 was the work which made his name and still shows the influence of Titian. It and The Removal of the Body of Saint Mark and Saint Mark Saving the Saracen are all in the Accademia. The last one, the spooky Finding of the Body of Saint Mark commissioned by Tommaso Rangone (who is depicted left of centre) c.1562/6 is in the Brera. Domenico Tintoretto's The Dream of Saint Mark on 1587/90 is in the Accademia too.
Eight figures of prophets and sibyls, plus one of Saint Mark, by Jacopo Tintoretto are now lost, as are two narrative panels by his son Domenico.

The scuola in art
Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Scuola de San Marco by Canaletto.

Opening times
Tuesday to Saturday
9.30-13.00, 14.00-17.00
Free entry

Vaporetto Ospedale

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The scuola has a
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San Rocco


History

Founded after the plague of 1478 with initially limited
resources. Finances improved, however, with the increased veneration of the dedicatory plague saint, following further outbreaks of plague in 1527 and 1571, and so by the end of the 16th century it was the richest of all the Scuole Grande. It was the only scuola to build its own church, begun in 1489, consecrated in 1508 and rebuilt in the 18th century. The building of a meeting house was begun in 1517, across the square from the church, first by Pietro Bon, the architect of the church also, who was responsible for the ground floor. He was followed by Sante Lombardo and then, from 1527, by Antonio Scarpagnino, who finished the upper part of the façade and unified the whole with columns.
By the mid-16th century the interior was ready to be decorated and  in 1563 the board of the Scuola decided to decorate their Sala dell'Albergo. They invited drawings for designs for the ceiling oval from Giuseppe Salviati, Federico Zuccaro, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto. Vasari and Ridolfi both tell us that Tintoretto beat all-comers by obtaining the dimensions of the oval space in the ceiling and installing a painting on the day of judging. (Veronese's drawing for this competition is in the Gardner Museum in Boston.) This work San Rocco in Glory (see below right) won Tintoretto the commission, and is arguably the best work he produced here. Tintoretto worked here from 1564-67. In 1565 he was accepted into the confraternity and they commissioned him to paint the huge Crucifixion in the Sala dell’Albergo. His later work seems to have been on his own initiative and for little or no pay. During 1566-7 he painted three further scenes from the Passion, Christ before Pilate, The Way to Calvary and a Pieta. In 1575 he began work on the Salone Maggiore with scenes on the ceiling illustrating the charitable functions of the brotherhood, while the walls were painted with scenes from the New Testament.
Between 1583 and 1587 Tintoretto returned to paint the lower meeting room (Sala Inferiore) with eight scenes from the Life of the Virgin. In all he made 64 paintings, almost all in oil on canvas, with only eight diamond-shaped monochrome canvases painted in tempera. These latter deteriorated and were replaced in 1777 by copies by Giuseppi Angeli.

The Scuola di San Rocco escaped suppression by Napoleon and still functions as a confraternity

Interior
All the paintings are by Tintoretto unless otherwise described. The Sala Terrena on the ground floor, with its two rows of five columns, has three big panels down the left, of which the first, an Annunciation, is probably the best and most famous. It presents an unusually run-down and cluttered scene. A pair of small panels flank the altar on each side wall. They are of Mary Magdalene and Mary of Egypt and they match but both landscapes are a bit bosky for deserts. There are two more panels on the right-hand side with door tops chopped out of them. The one on the right, an Assumption, shows just how busy and baroque Tintoretto can get. It is, though, thought that this downstairs sala has more input from his assistants, including his son Domenico, partly because he was around 70 by this time, although the Annunciation and the Assumption, being important episodes, are thought to be largely his work.
The grand staircase takes you first to a half-floor, where a Titian Annunciation and The Visitation by Tintoretto have now been returned to their 16th century positions. The fresco decorating the small dome at the top of the staircase is by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, responsible for a ceiling panel in the church of San Rocco and the vast ceiling of San Pantalon. The final long flight of stairs is flanked by enormous works by Pietro Negri and Antonio Zanchi.
Then you reach the Sala Grande. Weird big lamps throw bright shadows across the weird carved wooden allegorical figures (by Francesco Pianta in the 17th century)  in the panelling at human height, whilst everything above and overhead is by Tintoretto. The twenty-one ceiling panels are of Old Testament scenes, with the side walls telling ten New Testament stories. I like the Nativity in the back left corner, with the crib on the stable's mezzanine, and the Baptism next to it is just plain odd. The subjects are a seemingly random selection of stories with the back wall's Saints Sebastian and Rocco the most to the point. But I read later that the seemingly odd, non-chronological, arrangement of scenes is actually a thematic arrangement with scenes cross-referencing.
But the adjoining Sala dell' Albergo has the highlights - the huge Crucifixion is one of Tintoretto's very best. The ceiling panels are very decorative, full of allegories of the Four Seasons,Virtues and the other Scuole Grandi, but the famous San Rocco in Glory in the centre (see right) shines and has queasy trompe l'oeil appeal. Facing the Crucifixion are the oddly-ordered Passion scenes of The Ascent to Calvary, "Ecce Homo" and Christ before Pilate.

The scuola in art
The Doge Visiting the Church and Scuola di San Rocco by Canaletto, is famous and in the London National Gallery.

The scuola in fiction
The Spy of Venice: A William Shakespeare novel by Benet Brandreth features Tintoretto as an important character and the Scuola (and church) of San Rocco in a couple of key scenes.

Opening times
Daily 09.30 – 17.30

Vaporetto San Toma

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The scuola has a
Website in Italian



 




 

San Teodoro


History
This was originally a scuola piccolo in honour of Saint Theodore, Venice’s patron saint before Saint Mark, and they claimed to have been founded in 1258. It was the last scuola to be granted Scuola Grande status, in 1552. Not until 1556 did they decide to build a meeting house but only in 1576 did land became available opposite the church of San Salvador, where they had met hitherto, to build big. Two large meeting halls were constructed one on top of the other. In the 17th century Jacopo Galli bequeathed enough funds for the scuola to commission Giuseppe Sardi and Baldassare Longhena to build a grand façade and a double staircase. The confraternity was dissolved by Napoleon and the halls are now used for concerts and exhibitions.

Lost art
A Martyrdom of Saint Teodoro from this scuola has been attributed to Federico Cervelli, who is said to have taught Sebastiano Ricci

Campo San Salvador by Canaletto c.1736, Private collection, London.




 

Albanesi


History
The Scuola degli Albanesi was established on the 22nd of October 1442 for the Albanian community. Like to the Scuola degli Schiavone it was for immigrants from the Dalmation coast, and also employed Carpaccio.
Initially the members met in the monastery church of San Gallo. The Virgin and San Gallo were chosen as the patrons of the Scuola. In 1447 the Scuola moved to the church of San Maurizio, this saint then being added as the third patron of the Scuola.  In 1489 the scuola acqiared land next to the church and the present scuola building (attached to the left side of the church) was begun in 1497 and finished in 1502, when the lower floor's ceiling was commissioned. Carpaccio's paintings date from the years immediately following.
In 1530 the façade was decorated with a shallow relief panel depicting The Sieges of of Scutari. (See right for a watercolour copy) There are also the coats of arms of the Loredan and Da Lezze families, the heroes of these sieges, of 1474 and 1479. Below are deeper relief panels (sometimes attributed to the Lombardo brothers workshop) . These depict the Virgin and Child flanked by Saints Gallo and Maurice.
Membership dwindled and in 1780 the Scuola was closed down and the building became home to the Scuola dei Pistori (bakers). In 1808 the scuola, and all the other Venetian confraternities, was closed by Napoleonic laws and its works of art dispersed. The building was converted to residential use.

Lost art
Carpaccio and his workshop painted six scenes from Life of Virgin for the Sala dell'Allbergo here. The Birth of the Virgin is in the Accademia in Carrara, The Presentation and The Marriage are in the Brera in Milan but are not amongst his best. (His Disputation of Saint Stephen from the Scuola di Santo Stefano nearby in the Brera is much better.) The Annunciation (see right) and The Death of the Virgin are in the Ca'd'Oro. The Visitation from in between belongs to the Correr but may be 'in storage' at the Ca'd'Oro.

Vaporetto Accademia

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Mercanti


History
The scuola which used to be in the building to the left of the Madonna dell'Orto, which was also dedicated to Saint Christopher, and with which it appears something of a piece. The confraternity moved here when it was created in 1570 by the merging of the Scuola dei Santa Maria e San Francesco dei Mercanti, founded in 1261, and the Scuola di San Cristoforo, with the latter moving from its original home by the Frari, where it had been since 1349. The building they moved into here had dated to 1377, but complete rebuilding began immediately. Initially the architect was Gian Giacomo de'Grigi but later work was to designs by Palladio, and was completed in 1573, in which year the scuola was still arguing with him over his fee.  He won the suit in which he maintained that he was responsible for the designs and also supervised the building work for eleven months, but received a smaller fee than he'd sued for. His work here is not mentioned much in the literature, presumably because it doesn't involve a monumental façade or looming columns, and the degree of his involvement is still argued.
The scuola was suppressed in 1806, but the building was restored in 1876 and the Sala Superior became an oratory. The ground floor hall has been used as a theatre, a cinema, and for jumble sales and exhibitions.

The 15th-century sculpted Madonna della Misericordia plaque over the door to the campo came from the  Scuola di San Cristoforo's original building by the Frari.

Lost art
The albergo decoration began first, within a few years of the buildings completion, from 1576-1581, with paintings by Domenico Tintoretto, Palma Giovane, Veronese and Benedetto Caliari, his brother, each providing one panel for a wall each, with Domenico Tintoretto providing one for the ceiling too, probably after the walls were filled. This ceiling painting was of the Coronation of the Virgin, and was surrounded by four Evangelists and four Doctors of the Church by Aliense. This panel made a Marian cycle beginning with The Birth of the Virgin and ending with the altarpiece of The Assumption by Domenico Tintoretto, which featured portraits of the confraternity's officers. (Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto were both members of the confraternity.)  All the art was seized by the state when the confraternity was suppressed in 1806. Two of the paintings ended up in the Accademia, including that special Annunciation by Veronese of 1578 (see right), which hung over the door. Also the Nativity of the Virgin by Benedetto Caliari, which probably also includes portraits, now on loan from the Accademia to Palazzo Farsetti. The rest, including the ceiling, disappeared.
Domenico also provided the eight ceiling paintings in the sala del capitolo upstairs, with arguable help from his father Jacopo, of Old Testament episodes, with an altarpiece of The Nativity of the Virgin, attributed to both of them, flanked by two group portraits of scuola members by Domenico. These works were all removed in 1806 too, the Nativity and flanking portraits are in the Accademia but all but two of the ceiling paintings are lost.
The stanza terrena ceiling had eleven scenes of The Passion by Domenico Tintoretto with four Evangelists in the corners. The altarpiece in here was The Virgin and Child with Saint Christopher by Jacopo Tintoretto. There were fourteen scenes from the life of Saint Christopher on the walls by Domenico Tintoretto and a Lamentation by him with help from Aliense. All of the paintings were lost, except the altarpiece, which turned up in a parish church near Bergamo.
 
 




San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
Scuola Dalmata delli Santi Giorgio e Triffon


History
Consecrated to two saints, George and Tryphonius who are particularly celebrated in Dalmatia. Venice's ties with Dalmatia were strengthened when the region was conquered by Venice in the early 15th century. On the 19th of May 1451 the Council of Ten approved the setting up of this confraternity - schiavoni meaning Slavs - which initially met near San Giovanni di Malta. Around 1502 they acquired relics of Saint George and finished work converting a hospital building  they'd bought from the convent of Saint Catherine. Carpaccio began work in 1502 and in 1551 the scuola was rebuilt in by Giovanni De Zon, overseer at the Arsenale. This work involved bringing Carpaccio's paintings downstairs, the building of altars upstairs and downstairs, and moving the staircase.
Upon suppression in 1806 the Grand Master here wrote to Beauharnais, Napoleon's man on the spot, pleading a special case for "this last bulwark of the Schiavoni" and was granted a rare exemption from art-looting.

The building
Over the entrance is a relief of Saint George Killing the Dragon (1552), by Pietro di Salò, a pupil of Sansovino, and above it the earlier Madonna and Child with Saint John presenting a brother to Saint Catherine (mid-14th century) by a Venetian sculptor. The outside wall down the right also retains traces of the building before the 1551 rebuilding.

Interior
On the ground floor are the justly famous nine panels
painted for the Albergo upstairs by Vittore Carpaccio between 1502 and 1508 dedicated to the lives of Christ, the patron saints of the scuola and Saint Jerome. Probably the most famous is The Vision of Saint Augustine, with its striking still-life elements and attentive cute white dog. It shows Augustine in his study writing a letter to Jerome just at the moment he is pondering in writing the question of whether martyr saints like John the Baptist were more blessed and the just-deceased Jerome comes to him in a shining radiance and assures him that there is no such distinction in Heaven. On the right wall are three well-known scenes of the life of Saint Jerome and two New Testament scenes: The Agony in the Garden (from Matthew's gospel) and The Calling of Saint Matthew painted in 1502. On the left is the legend of Saint George in three scenes, (his killing the Dragon, his Triumph and his Baptism of the Gentiles). These, and Saint Tryphonius and the Basilisk, were painted in 1507. The Madonna and Child over the altar is by Benedetto Carpaccio, Vittore's son. It had previously been attributed to Vincenzo Catena.
The door to the right of the altar leads to the sacristy, which had been used by the Scuola di San Giovanni, but following that scuola's suppression it was incorporated into the Scuola Dalmata in 1839. It now contains the scuola's 'important objects' - silverwork and such.
To the left of the altar the staircase begins with a sweet holy water stoup held by a female hand (see right) above which is a head of St John the Baptist, an English alabaster of the 16th century
Even the Scuola's own guide speaks of the works upstairs, mostly from the 17th century, as 'of little artistic interest'. The upper hall (the Albergo) (see photo below right) has a wooden ceiling worked by Zuane de Bastian in 1604, with painted panels attributed to Andrea Vicentino. The central octagon shows The Apotheosis of Saint Tryphonius, with irregular triangles of the Evangelists and ovals of God the Father, The Virgin and Child and Saints Jerome and Barbara(?). The carved wooden altarpiece is quite interesting. It was probably the ceiling roundel up here when the Carpaccios where on the walls. It's flanked by a pair of panels, depicting Saints Jerome and Tryphonius described as 'influence of Antonio Vivarini'.

Ruskin said
Of the figures of the princess and her father in the second St George scene: 'there is nothing elsewhere in art that is the like of this little piece of work for supreme, serene, unassuming, unfaltering sweetness of painter’s perfect art'. And on a Christmas visit after the death of his beloved Rose la Touch he came over all mystical and hallucinated that she was communicating with him via symbolic plants and parrots in the Carpaccio paintings.

Henry James said
The place is small and incommodious, the pictures are out of sight and ill-lighted, the custodian is rapacious, the visitors are mutually intolerable, but the shabby little chapel is a palace of art'



 

Opening times
Daily 10.30-2.30
Note The above times were those on the door in August 2019, and were confirmed verbally with the attendant.

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San Fantin


History
This scuola came about when the Scuola di San Girolamo and the Scuola di Santa Maria della Giustizia merged.  Members accompanied and comforted condemned criminals on their way to their place of execution, so they were also known as the Scuola dei Picai (of the hanged men, also ...degli Impiccati). They originally met in the nearby church of San Fantin. This new building was begun in 1580 following fire damage to its predecessor in 1563.  Lorenzetti says it was designed by Antonio Contin with help from Alessandro Vittoria, but the latter is the name most mentioned. The pediment was topped in 1584 with statues of the Virgin Mary and Two Angels by Andrea dell'Aquila and Agostino Rubini, pupils of Vittoria. The relief of the Crucifixion is by Andrea dell'Aquila.
The albergo, on the first floor had its ceiling painted around 1582 with an Assumption by Palma Giovane, now lost (see below). Palma also painted panels for the ceiling of the Sala Terrena on the ground floor. These featured various Biblical scenes relating to the Scuola's duties with regard to comforting the condemned and their means of expiation. Around 1664 the albergo piccolo was added and the new sacristy on the ground floor.
In 1806 the Scuola was abolished by Napoleon, the oratory's altars were removed and the building became home to Società Veneta di Medicina. It now houses The Ateneo Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, an institution created by merging this medical society with two others. It's dedicated to science, literature, art and culture, with the aim of promoting social solidarity, we are told. The oratory on the ground-floor is now their conference hall. The albergo on the first floor is now a reading-room, the albergo piccolo is now the Sala Tommaseo and the new sacristy is now a meeting-room. The art here includes works by Tintoretto, (studio of) Veronese, Palma il Giovane, Antonio Zanchi, Francesco Fontebasso, Pietro Longhi and Alessandro Vittoria.
The Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Jerome was painted by Tintoretto c.1580 for the altar of the Albergo Grande here. It went to the Accademia in 1913 but in 1973 was returned here to the Ateneo's Sala di Lettura. It was cleaned and conserved in 2018.

Lost art
The Assumption of the Virgin, in the ceiling of the albergo by Palma Giovane, was damaged in 1740 by a lightning strike to the roof, at the turn of the century by rain water and then by the ceiling's collapse in 1825. It was removed and cut into pieces, which went into storage and continued to be seen until 1837, after which all trace disappeared, until a fragment showing The Apostles at the Tomb was purchased in Venice by a Russian collector, who gave it to the Hermtage in 1915, where it remains. A fragment depicting Adam and Eve was said to be in a private collection in Paris in the 1960s. By the same artist, a Saint Jerome in his Study and (reportedly) an Apparition to Saint Augustine, now in the church of San Girolamo.

Vaporetto Santa Maria del Giglio


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Guardiano della Scuola di San Fantin by Giovanni Grevembroch

 






 

San Francesco

 

San Girolamo


History
The scuola's 15th-century building was at the west end of the Campo dei Frari. It was converted to housing after the scuola's disbandment at the end of the 18th century.

Lost art
Had ceiling paintings in the small Stanza Terrena by Pordenone featuring The Stigmatization of Saint Francis and surrounding square panels of busts of the Evangelists and octagonal ones of Franciscan saints. They were taken down in the early 18th century. The central panel was lost, the Four Evangelists (that's Saint Mark right) and two of the Saints (Anthony of Padua and Bernardino of Siena) went to Budapest, with the other two saints (Bonaventura and Louise of Toulouse) now in the National Gallery in London.

Scuola dei Mureri (masons)
Where the Salizzada di San Samuele splits into Salizzada Malipiero and the Calle delle Carozze.
Lost art
Their altarpiece was the Incredulity of Saints Thomas and Magnus (patrons of the scuola) of 1504/5 by Cima da Conegliano now in the Accademia, where it's been since 1829.

Santa Maria Maggiore
Was next to the convent of the same name.
Lost art
Possessed the Palma Vecchio Assumption of c.1513 now in the Accademia

SS Trinità
Tintoretto's Creation of he Animals of 1550-3 in the Accademia

Santo Stefano
There's a small bas-relief of the saint on a building opposite the church of Santo Stefano, now a restaurant with housing above, which once belonged to the Scuola di Santo Stefano. The scuola was founded on March 3rd, 1298, making it one of the oldest scuole in Venice. The majority of members were stonecutters whose patron saint was Stephen as he was martyred by stoning.
Initially for meetings and services they used their altar and the sacristy of the church of Santo Stefano. In 1437 they bought land opposite the church's façade from the Augustinian friars and built a meeting hall, which was enlarged in 1473 with the addition of a chapel. The membership grew such that, in 1506, they commissioned Carpaccio to paint scenes from the life of the saint for the albergo, from 1511-20. With the Napoleonic suppressions of 1806 their furnishings and decorations were dispersed. One Carpaccio canvas was lost (although a drawing of it is in the Uffizi), while the other four are now in the Louvre, the Brera, Stuttgart and Berlin. The altarpiece, now also in the Brera, was a triptych by Franceso Bissolo depicting a full-length Saint Stephen in the centre flanked by panels of Saints Augustine and Anthony of Padua.

 

 

 

 
History
The oratory of the Scuola was behind the church of San Girolamo. Founded in the 14th century its decoration dated to the 15th. Following some mid-18th-century restoration the Oratory was suppressed and closed in 1810-14, also suffered looting by a mob in 1884.

Lost art
Part of the late-15th-century decoration was a ceiling roundel of God the Father Blessing by Alvise Vivarini, now in the Accademia. It was still here in 1843, was removed and passed into private hands and bought by the Accademia in 1899. It is now in the centre of the spectacular carved ceiling of room 1 (see right).

 

 

 

 

 

Sant'Orsola
Founded around 1300 this scuola is now most remembered for its commissioning of the Saint Ursula cycle from Carpaccio, which is now in the Accademia. An ambitious program for a small scuola piccola, a meeting of 1488 decided to finance the decoration of the scuola's chapel/meeting-house (see old photo right - the east-end chapels of San Zanipolo are behind it to the right) and the young Vittore Carpaccio was employed. The cycle of nine paintings was probably completed by 1500 and shared the chapel with the scuola's venerated relic of the saint's head.

 



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