This is the church that the Dominicans built on the Zattere when they outgrew Santa Maria della Visitazione. Built in 1726-43 by architect Giorgio Massari, this is one of many (too many?) big white Baroque churches in Venice. But this is probably the most refined and elegant of them all, not over-the-top or garish in any way.
It's another church that I like better from the side than from the front, but this façade is not ugly or overloaded with sculpture – it contains just four statues representing the Four Cardinal Virtues (justice, prudence, strength, and temperance). There are twin turret-style bell towers, though only the one on the right has bells.
A view from a vaporetto is here.
The interior is remarkably harmonious and contains works by all the greatest masters of Venetian 18th century art. The Tiepolo ceiling is the best – three vividly-colored frescoes featuring scenes with Our Lady of the Rosary (Santa Maria del Rosario) and St. Dominic.
There are mirrors in the church so you can study this ceiling without craning your neck but looking at art in a mirror gives me vertigo! These frescoes are gorgeous, and the paintings themselves are surrounded by these medallions that on first glance, look like carved stucco reliefs but they are really painted – a very cool optical illusion.
One of the nicest altarpieces is also by Tiepolo: The Virgin Appears to Three Female Saints (Rose of Lima, Catherine of Siena, and Agnes of Montepuliciano). The saints are lovely and sweet but the Madonna is very imperious-looking. Unusual. Other 18th century works include paintings by Sebastiano Ricci and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, and tons of sculpture by Gian Maria Morlaiter.
The oldest painting in the church is Tintoretto’s Crucifixion. It’s not a dramatic epic view like the one he did for Scuola di San Rocco, but a simpler scene with a beautiful richly-colored pile of well-dressed women fainting at the foot of the cross. The fabrics and colors of their dresses are wonderful.
I’m not madly in love with this church because I’m just not a huge fan of Baroque overall (and really, I like garish Baroque better than the elegant because it cracks me up!). But if you’re strolling along the Zattere (highly recommended) and have a Chorus Pass (also recommended), pop into this church and check out the ceiling.
To Visit This Church
A Chorus Pass church, so it’s open Monday - Saturday from 10-5.