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August 6, 2014

August 6 (San Salvador)

August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration and for centuries, this was the day that the beautiful Pala d'Argento was unveiled in the church of San Salvador. This Gothic altar screen spends most of the year hidden behind Titian's painting of The Transfiguration on the high altar of the church (though since la pala's recent restoration, I think the church has been showing it on other high holy days too).

You can see the gorgeous restored Pala d'Argento in this 2011 YouTube video.

supper at emmaus

Speaking of art in San Salvador, its two Titians receive most of the attention, but there's another masterpiece with a fascinating story inside this church. It’s such a cool thing when an art history mystery is solved.

Supper at Emmaus was believed to be the work of the great Giovanni Bellini for many centuries up until about 100 years ago. Lorenzetti (whose Venice and its Lagoon was published in the early 20th century) attributes the painting to Bellini and praises it, saying that it’s “remarkable for its luminous colour and the loftiness of its conception.”

Somewhere along the way in the 20th century, art historians decided that it wasn’t painted by Bellini but was perhaps from his workshop. Hugh Honour (Companion Guide to Venice, 1965) says of the art in the church of San Salvador: “There are three outstanding pictures in the church. In the nave there is a "Supper at Emmaus" painted in clear bright colors and flooded with Venetian light…it has been attributed to Giovanni Bellini, though most authorities now assign it to a follower.”

Then during a 1998 restoration by Save Venice, a date (1513) and an inscription were discovered that helped to prove that it was actually painted by Vittore Carpaccio. The fact that there’s a Turk wearing a turban helped to solve the mystery too. The full story is here (The Rediscovery of Carpaccio’s “Supper at Emmaus”, Dated 1513, in the Church of San Salvador).

That little bird in the foreground sure looks like something Carpaccio would paint.

August 9, 2014

PhotoHunt: Music

"I know, it's only rock and roll..."

This summer is the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd's infamous concert in Venice. This show was one of the stops on Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour" - so apropos! Whoever decided that Venice could handle such an event definitely had a lapse of some sort. :)

Pretty much everyone agrees that it was a disaster.

From the Piazza San Marco website:

On the evening of 15 July 1989 on the Feast of the Redeemer, the historic English rock band Pink Floyd held a concert in the basin of San Marco in front of the Palazzo Ducale on a floating stage 24 meters high and towed by a barge 90 meters to 30. Venice was invaded by more than two hundred thousand people, a lot of people that shook the city demonstrating its inability to support events of this magnitude. Lacked all essential services (security, hygiene, first aid) and most of the bars and public places in the face of this invasion had closed its doors after learning that the police were not able to provide security. So the city was covered with excrement and tons of waste. The streets and squares transformed into open-air baths and the Piazza San Marco in a big dump. The controversy in the aftermath of the concert and the use of the city for events of this type were hot both locally and nationally...

Here's what David Gilmour of Pink Floyd said~

"We had a really good time, but the city authorities who had agreed to provide the services of security, toilets, food, completely reneged on everything they were supposed to do, and then tried to blame all the subsequent problems on us."

The stage looked very cool out in the lagoon~


Here's a video that shows the mountain of garbage left behind.

So to commemorate this 25th anniversary, a group called Floydseum is having an exhibit in Venice in the deconsecrated church of Santa Marta.

What an interesting use for a former church! A night of wonders...


While it's pretty certain that Venice will never host a concert like this again, this one won't be forgotten. In 2010, I saw this poster below. Hard Rock Cafe Venezia was sponsoring another walk down memory lane about the Pink Floyd concert.

hard rock cafe venezia

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

August 18, 2014

Madonna trampling on Satan

I know I'm not the only one who keeps a "next time I'm in Venice" list. Whenever I read about something that I want to seek out, I jot it down. A few years ago, I was reading John Freely's "Strolling Through Venice" (a walking tour guide) and read this:

"On the façade of the house on the corner to the right there is a statuette of the Madonna, who is holding the Christ Child and trampling on Satan."

This immediately went on my list! But when I found it, I discovered that the statue is surrounded by plexiglass, hard to see and virtually impossible to photograph.

San Polo 2614 A

I took so many photos of this statue, from every angle, trying to find some way though the plexiglass shield. Not much luck!

San Polo 2614 A

San Polo 2614 A

This was the best I could do, right underneath looking up.

San Polo 2614 A

Later on, I learned from my UK blog friend, Bert, that some people call this statue "Sputnik" since the covering resembles some kind of bizarro space craft. A shrine with a nickname...I love it.

Here's the good news. I found a pre-plexiglass photo to scan in!

There's also a photo of the statue on Victorian Web.

San Polo 2614 A

It's a unique image of Satan for sure - part cherub, part baby devil (with horns). Because it's painted wood, the statue needs the plexiglass to protect it, but it's a shame that it makes it so difficult to see. I love the little blue stars painted inside the canopy.

There's a local story/legend that this statue was discovered when the canal was drained in the 19th century (whenever you see "Rio Tera" in a street name in Venice, it means that the street/calle is a former canal that was filled in).

If the statue was found in the canal, it might have been the figurehead of a boat. You can find this charming Madonna at San Polo 2614 A (not that far from the Frari).

August 26, 2014

Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

Santa Ternita was a parish church in Castello, founded around 1026 and built with funds from the Celsi and Sagredo families (the Sagredo’s enormous 15th century palazzo is nearby). The church was located at Castello 3026 next to the Ponte del Sufragio where an apartment building stands today. The residents of this parish were working class for the most part, many of them employed at the nearby Arsenale. The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity (an unusual non-human saint).

The church was rebuilt in 1507 and restored several times (in 1569 after a fire in the Arsenale, and again in 1721).

Santa Ternita was deconsecrated and closed in 1810, and the church building was used for timber storage until 1832 when it was demolished. The campanile survived a while longer than the church; it was cut in half and converted into private homes. But the tower collapsed on December 13, 1880, burying a resident named Giovanni Baratelli who was pulled from the rubble unharmed.

This 1847 drawing shows the campo after the church had been demolished but before the campanile was cut in half~

Santa Ternita

Several Santa Ternita priests have entered the history books for dubious behavior. One of them was banished from Venice in 1607 because he was part of the gang that attempted to assassinate Fra Paulo Sarpi.

Another priest entered the public record in 1617 when it was discovered that he was sending love letters, poetry, and gifts to a nun at San Sepolcro and to two other nuns at San Daniele (both nearby convents).

And then there’s the wild story of Santa Ternita priest Francesco Vincenzi who, along with a young Venetian woman, Antonia Pesenti, was brought before the Inquisition in 1668 for religious fraud that involved a “miraculous” painting of the Virgin Mary in the church. Antonia would go into ecstatic religious trance before this painting, and the priest was spreading the word around Venice that she was a “living saint” (crowds began coming to Santa Ternita for the spectacle and in hopes of receiving a miracle). It’s a complicated story told in the book, Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice, 1618-1750 by Anne Jacobson Schutte.

As I wrote in my post about Campo Do Pozzi, the church of Santa Ternita is honored in that campo with a carving on the remaining well-head. For some quirky reason, other Castello churches are commemorated on the Campo Santa Ternita well-head with reliefs of St. Francis of Assisi and John the Baptist (the reliefs are so degraded that it’s hard to tell which saint is which, but my guess is that John the Baptist is the first one). Both of these churches still stand – San Francesco della Vigna (which is now the parish church for the residents of Santa Ternita) and San Giovanni in Bragora.

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

The church of Santa Ternita had paintings by Palma il Giovane, Giambattista Tiepolo, and maybe even Vittore Carpaccio (I haven’t been able to find out which painting and where it is now). Some of the church’s art was moved to San Francesco della Vigna after Santa Ternita was supressed.

The church also had a couple of famous relics. One was Venetian saint San Gerardo Sagredo, a Benedictine monk who was martyred in Hungary in 1047. There was a chapel dedicated to him which contained a painting of the saint by Girolamo da Santacroce. There’s a modern church dedicated to San Gerardo Sagredo in Giudecca (maybe the relics are there now).

The other relic was even more famous. In the 13th century, Santa Ternita received the body of St. Anthanasius (he was first stolen from Egypt and taken to Constantinople, then the Venetians brought him to Venice).

This saint was the 4th century Bishop of Alexandria who participated in the Council of Nicea where the Nicene Creed was developed. He helped to decide which religious texts should become “official” books of The Bible and which should not (the 27 books he proposed ended up being the New Testament). His relics are now in the church of San Zaccaria.

A cool building in this campo (hard to tell what those old traces indicate, bigger windows perhaps?)~

Campo Santa Ternita

The campanile of San Francesco della Vigna is visible from Camp Santa Ternita~

Campo Santa Ternita

Another nice thing in this campo: a modern lunette with a 14th century relief of the Madonna and child inside~

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

A 1905 drawing of the campo~

Campo Santa Ternita

You can read about other demolished churches here.

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