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June 1, 2011

A few of my favorites

There are so many thousands of images of the Madonna all over Venice, both inside churches and museums, and out on the streets in carvings and shrines. Here are a few of my favorites that can be found inside various churches.

This gorgeous and elegant 13th century relief is high up on a wall of the church of San Francesco della Vigna. A marble Veneto-Byzantine relief with traces of gold, it's one of many beautiful works of art in this church.

San Francesco della Vigna

This next one can be found in the church of San Pantalon, in a niche on the wall of the Capella del Santo Chiodo. This chapel houses one of Venice's most-revered relics, a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. Also 13th century, this statue of the Madonna and Child is alabaster with traces of decoration added a few centuries later. Wonderful crowns on them both! More about San Pantalon coming soon (it's a strange and fascinating church).

San Pantalon

These next two can both be admired in San Giacomo dall'Orio.

The first one is also 13th century, an image in Greek marble of the Virgin Orante. It's tucked away in a niche in the wall behind a large wooden cabinet where the church puts literature for the parishioners; it's easy to miss. I love her and also the bricks surrounding her.

You can't miss the second one though as she's right beside the entrance to the chancel and always has fresh flowers in front of her. She's 14th century, known as "Our Lady of the Annunciation."

San Giacomo dall'Orio

San Giacomo dall'Orio

June 8, 2011

San Basso

When I was in Venice last November, I was happy to see that the façade of this formerly grungy former church had received a cleaning! There’s still some scaffolding around it and who knows what else is going on, but it looks much better now as you can see in the “after and before” photos below.

San Basso

San Basso

San Basso faces the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, just north of the Basilica di San Marco. This piazzetta used to be called Campo San Basso and for centuries, there was a vegetable market there. The name was changed to “dei Leoncini” when the two red marble lions were added in 1722.

Founded in 1076, San Basso is one of the most ancient churches in Venice. It burned down along with 22 other churches in 1105, then burned again in 1661 and was rebuilt in 1670 as we see it today. Longhena is sometimes credited with the design of the façade but there seems to be some doubt about that.

Along with many other churches, San Basso was closed and deconsecrated in 1810. It was privately owned for a while and then later in the 19th century, it became the property of San Marco which used it as a warehouse and restoration workshop, then as a museum for a while, and now uses part of it for people to check their big bags before they are allowed to visit the Basilica. It’s also used for Vivaldi concerts and lectures.

The interior looks mainly like a lecture hall, but there are a few traces of church decoration and a nice Madonna mosaic. Other fragments from the church are on display in the courtyard in front of the church of San Teodoro, behind the Basilica.

San Basso

San Basso

Continue reading "San Basso" »

June 10, 2011

PhotoHunt: Triangle


This week's theme is "Triangle."

This is the third time I've done this theme but that's okay - it's a fun theme. The first time I showed the decorative Byzantine triangles on the church of Santi Maria e Donato in Murano; the second time I shared several photos that included a door in Venice along with a rock and painting in NC.

This time I've got a sculpture from the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. It's called "The Green Eye of the Pyramid," and the artists are Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychotová.

I had two photographs of it, taken on two different visits to the museum. In the first one, the curtains behind the sculpture are open and you can see the architecture of the museum outside. In the second one, the curtains are closed. I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I decided to post them both. The light in this museum is amazing!



Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

June 14, 2011

Fondamenta de la Misericordia

Cannaregio 3599

This large shrine is in Cannaregio alongside the enormous Scuola Nova della Misericordia, near a former abbey and the deconsecrated church of Santa Maria Valverde. It’s really more of a tabernacle than a shrine; it even has a marble prayer step where worshippers can kneel.

I hope to stroll by this one someday and see that they have cleaned the carvings on the base. These reliefs show the Madonna della Misericordia in the center, protecting two worshippers under her cloak, with a Venetian merchant ship on either side of her.

Cannaregio 3599

The wrought iron gate protecting this shrine is quite lovely but makes it challenging to photograph the image inside of a rather Byzantine-looking painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child. This sacred image is relatively new because for centuries, the tabernacle housed a 14th century Gothic statue of the Pieta which was stolen in 1973. Story goes that the thief lost the statue when he fell into a canal while making his escape, but that might just be an urban legend. The book I Capitelli di Venezia has a photo of the lost statue that I scanned in.

Cannaregio 3599


Many thanks to Bert! After I posted this, he sent this wonderful photo below of the image inside and notes, "I love the way the Child's right hand has circled His Mother's neck. It's not right anatomically, but it still looks good." I agree!


Continue reading "Fondamenta de la Misericordia" »

June 16, 2011

Santa Maria del Soccorso


This little church was part of a charitable institution founded in 1580 by famous Venetian courtesan and poet, Veronica Franco (1546-1591), who is the subject of the book, The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal, and the 1998 film, Dangerous Beauty.

“Soccorso” means succor, relief, rescue, and assistance, and this church was part of a larger complex dedicated to providing all of these to former and/or reformed prostitutes. The complex included housing (Casa del Soccorso), a cloister, and gardens along with this church. Veronica Franco petitioned the Venetian government and also recruited her wealthy noble friends to provide funding to aid these women. The first location was a small house close to the church of the Tolentini and then they moved to this location in Dorsoduro not far from the church of Angelo Raffaele.

Veronica Franco died before the larger hospice opened in 1601. There’s a legend that she was the model for a painting on the main altar of the church, but I’m not sure if that’s true. The complex was closed in 1807, and the residents moved to Cannaregio to a similar refuge connected to the church of Santa Maria dei Penitenti.

Today it’s an oratory (Oratorio della Congregazione Suore di Carità delle Sante Capitanio e Gerosa) and I don’t know if or when it's ever open. I haven't seen photos of the interior, but the Patriarch of Venice site reports that it has a Rococo altarpiece painting of La Vergine Immacolata by Jacopo Amigoni, and a stucco ceiling with a painting of the Madonna and Child.


Continue reading "Santa Maria del Soccorso" »

June 21, 2011

Madonna of the Gondoliers

San Marco

There are a number of shrines in Venice connected in one way or another to the iconic gondoliers. This one houses a beautiful relief of the Madonna and Child, with God the Father above them raising his hand in blessing, and carvings of two gondolas below.

This shrine can be found on the Ponte della Paglia (the bridge that's always filled with tourists looking at the Bridge of Sighs). The sacred image is known as the Madonna of the Gondoliers (or Our Lady of the Traghetto) not only because of the gondola carvings but also because the shrine is placed so that it's clearly visible to gondolas crossing under the bridge.

It was nice of this gondola with pink roses to float into my photo when I was admiring the shrine. :)

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco

This bridge was built in 1360 and was enlarged in the 19th century. The shrine was added in 1583.

Continue reading "Madonna of the Gondoliers" »

June 28, 2011

Madonna of the Gondoliers, part two

This is a fascinating mystery. Far from San Marco, on a building in a quiet residential section of Giudecca, is this relief which shows an image of the Ponte della Paglia shrine, Madonna of the Gondoliers, along with the prow of a gondola. As far as I know, it's the only case where a Venetian shrine is honored in a reproduction like this.

I wonder if this is or was the home of a devout gondolier. Another theory (thanks Bert!) is that this relief used to be inside a shrine but is now on its own. In "The World of Venice," Jan Morris mentions a votive shrine that was erected on Giudecca by gondoliers to thank Our Lady for not letting the new-fangled vaporetto drive them out of business.

You can find this relief at Dorsoduro/Giudecca 383, Fondamenta de la Palada.



June 30, 2011

Ponte Cavallo

Another shrine on a bridge that seems to be located specifically for gondoliers and boatmen...right at their eye level and just above the water!

The beautiful carving of Mary, Queen of Heaven, is dated 1615. The bridge is Ponte Cavallo (horse), named in honor of the famous equestrian statue in the adjacent campo of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo). There might be gondolas carved at the bottom of this shrine too but it's kind of hard to tell. I think I see them though in the third photo down.

Castello 6778

Castello 6778

I love the stars above her shoulder. Many shrines have flowers, but this one has a live volunteer weed growing out of the stones! A remarkably green and healthy looking plant too. It's great to see plants growing in improbable places like this...makes me believe that nature will prevail no matter what.

Castello 6778

Continue reading "Ponte Cavallo" »

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