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Madonna of Calle del Forno


There are countless images of the Madonna all over Venice, both inside churches and museums and also out on the streets, inside shrines, and on buildings. So many beautiful ones but this rustic relief of the Madonna dell’Umilta is one of my favorites. She’s tucked away on a quiet residential street in Castello, set into the wall above a door (I didn’t stumble across this one by accident; I knew to go looking for her).

This 15th century relief is unique because it’s carved from wood rather than stone. According to Alberto Rizzi (Scultura Esterna a Venezia), this Madonna was most likely inside a shrine, but today the tabernacle is gone and only the icon remains.

She’s showing signs of age (at one time, the wood was painted but you can barely see the traces) but still, her smile is peaceful and there’s an air of serenity and joy around her. And what a fat and happy baby! He looks more like Buddha than Christ to me.

Thanks to A Lover of Venice for sharing the Rizzi info with me. And if you haven’t checked out ALoV’s website lately, please do. There are a number of new pages including the best collection of Venice links on the web, and also a “Photo of the Week” page. Walks though Santa Croce and San Polo have been added and also some amazing photos taken from a ship leaving Venice for Istanbul.


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Comments (12)

i can hardly believe that she is still there stuck in the wall?!

Wow! Amazing work finding it! I imagine it is easily missed if you are not looking for it.

BTW, I made the lentil sloppy Joes last night in the slow cooker before heading out to yoga, we came home to a delicious meal. Loved it! I shall make it again. Thanks for sharing it.


What an interesting carving, it looks so much a part of the wall that I would never have guessed it was wood!

Barb Cabot:

I always learn something wonderful and new from your blog.

Nice catch Annie! I don't think I have ever seen this one. I still have a lot to discover in this fascinating city!

A beautiful carving. It must have been magical searching for her and finding her in the nook.


Wow, how wonderful that you found this when you went looking for it. I love it too.

Such a treasure. And to think such a piece of art is not where one would expect it. Lovely. m

Thanks for sharing the links. I can't walk to do some walking in Venice in June!


I would never have guessed this was carved from wood, it looks like stone. You're right, there is definitely a Buddha-esque look to this baby Jesus! How wonderfully universal!

She’s beautiful and I love the chubby baby Jesus. I can’t get over the fact that she’s from the 15th century and made of wood and she's there in the open, exposed to the elements. A true miracle, I think.

I looked at A lover of Venice’s pictures of his cruise trip departing from Venice. He has some fabulous photographs! My husband and I dream of cruising in and out of Venice but on a smaller vessel, more like a sailboat. It’s something we want to do when Ivan retires.

What a cool find! Amazing that it is made of wood.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 3, 2010 2:55 PM.

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