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Bas relief in the Frari


This lovely bas relief is in the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. All I remember about it is that it's right below a blazingly lit reliquary case in a side chapel. Why I didn't make some notes on it, I've no idea...obviously I liked it enough to capture it in a photograph! The detail and finish are quite wonderful, I think. (Except I'm less fond of the cherub heads around the edges...I generally prefer my angelic figures to be full size with massive, graceful wings...)

Anyway, I wish I knew who sculpted this bas relief and when. It must be a very minor work that doesn't warrant much notice, because I cannot find any information about it online...I've googled high and I've googled low, but nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero.

I just surprised myself by realizing that I know what these scenes are, and who each of the figures is...at least I think I know these things. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong!

The scene on the left:
The Deposition of Jesus
Jesus, of course, is the central figure
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are the bearded men holding Jesus
Mary and Mary Magdalene are the two women bent over Jesus
The final figure puzzles me a bit...I first thought it was a woman, then decided it is a man since the head is not covered. Considering how most Renaissance artists portrayed John the Apostle, I'm guessing this is he. Of this I am unsure.

The scene on the right (which I assume is closely related, but a slightly different timeframe, as frequently seems to be the case in Italian religious art):
The Entombment (?)
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus again...again unsure.

Comments (10)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, great photo. And that is a very beautiful looking bas-relief. You have a good grasp of almost all of the scenes. Maybe Annie will know this too.

I really want to check back again as this is very interesting to me.

Ooh, that is beautiful and I love doing detective work!

The brightly-lit relic case - I think you are talking about the sacristy (the entrance is to the right of the Titian Assunta)? This is also the room where the famous Bellini altarpiece is.

If so, here's what one of my books says:

"A stately Baroque altar in which is put the Sacred Shrine of the Relics,built in 1711; the three marble reliefs: The Deposition on the parapet of the altar, and the Crucifixion and the Deposition at the sides of the Reliquary, are by Franc. Penso called Cabianca."


Annie, thanks so much! I googled that artist and found a photo of this relief on flickr with the caption:
"Penso, Francesco detto Cabianca (1665 - 1737) and
Andrea Brustolon (1662 - 1732)
Altare delle reliquie (Detail) (1711)
Venice, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari"

Cool! That's definitely it! I've never heard of that artist but I like his work.

That flickr site has some other good Venice church photos too.

I found out a little bit more about the artist. My book says that at that time in Venice, the master sculptor was a guy named Le Court who was Flemish, from Antwerp, and a follower of Bernini. It said that he had a number of Venetians in his workshop and that the best of them was your guy, Cabianca. Interesting!


Thanks for the extra info, Annie! How cool that Cabianca was the best of Le Court's workshop...do I have an eye for quality, or what?! ;)

Kathy - you were so right that Annie would be able to help with this!


This is beautiful, Anne. How exciting to think that we'll both soon be surrounded by this sort of beauty!

Great post, Anne! I love the photo of this beautiful bas relief with your explanation and the detective work done by Annie. Great job! Soon I'll be able to check this out in person.;-)

WOW! I LOVE this photo! I think I might have been in this church, but if so, it was back in 1999. Thanks for posting this. I definitely want to check it out next time I am there.


Sandra - I know, I can't wait! And your trip is only a couple weeks away, so you must be getting really excited!

María - I am so excited for you! And thanks for letting me know your dates, it will be fun if we can meet in person!

girasoli - you should definitely visit the Frari (again). Titian's Assumption is one of my all time favourite paintings in the world, such a glorious swirl of light and colour...sigh

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