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October 3, 2014

Titian's Danaë

I went to Washington DC for a few days last month; it was a work trip, but I did have enough free time to visit the National Gallery of Art to see Titian's painting, Danaë, which is on a six-month loan from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.

I was excited to visit a Titian I'd never seen before, and the museum helped build the anticipation during the long walk to see the painting.

National Gallery of Art


National Gallery of Art


National Gallery of Art


And here it is. What a gorgeous painting. You can get a better look at it on the Web Galley of Art.


National Gallery of Art

Titian was commissioned to paint Danaë by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the grandson of Pope Paul III. Titian began the painting in Venice and then completed it during his trip to Rome in 1545-46. The brochure from the National Gallery of Art says, "Titian established a new genre in Western art, that of erotic mythologies..." and notes that there wasn't much demand for such paintings in his hometown of Venice and so Titian painted these beauties for non-Venetian patrons like Cardinal Farnese.

Giovanni della Casa, the papal legate to Venice, visited Titian's studio when the Danaë was in progress and wrote a letter to Cardinal Farnese telling him that the painting was so shocking that it made the Venus of Urbino "look like a nun by comparison." A funny exaggeration! Eight years prior to painting Danaë, Titian had painted the equally gorgeous Venus of Urbino for another non-Venetian patron (this painting is now in the Uffizi in Florence).

Another great story about Danaë comes to us from Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists. When Titian went to Rome, he was given studio space in the Vatican and continued his work on Danaë. One day Michelangelo visited Titian's studio and saw the painting. He praised it lavishly but later confided to Vasari that while the colors were masterful, it's a shame that Venetian artists had never learned how to draw. Ouch! Sounds like some sour grapes to me. But I love knowing that Titian and Michelangelo met.

During World War II, the Nazis looted Danaë and many other works of art. When the war ended, the painting was found hidden in a salt mine in Austria; two years later, it was returned to Italy.

Another post will be coming soon about some of the other Venetian gems I saw in DC.

Here's a couple more pics from the National Galley of Art - these little kids were gathered around Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, all holding the audio guide headsets up to their ears and listening intently. It bugs me that the arts have been pretty much eliminated from US public schools, so it made me happy to see this.


National Gallery of Art

And I saw this in the National Gallery bookstore - a new book about Venice! I haven't read it yet but it's on my to-read list.

National Gallery of Art

October 10, 2014

Venetian Art in DC

The National Gallery of Art has a treasure trove of Venetian art - an amazing collection. The gang's all here - the Vivarinis and the Bellinis, Cima, Veronese, Lotto, three paintings by Giorgione (!) and a whole room of Titians. Here are a few things that caught my eye during my visit last month.

Paolo Veneziano, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1324


National Gallery of Art


Both of these Carpaccios are so beautiful. While I love his epic series in Venice, these smaller and quieter paintings are so lovely.


Vittore Capaccio, The Flight into Egypt, 1515

National Gallery of Art


Vittore Carpaccio, The Virgin Reading, 1505

National Gallery of Art


This Tintoretto below is very interesting, not as dark and stormy with a much lighter palette than most of his works.

Jacopo Tintoretto, The Madonna of the Stars, second half of the 16th century


National Gallery of Art

After I visited the National Gallery, I walked across the mall to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Those of you who have visited the Guggenheim Museum in Venice and seen "The Angel of the City" on the terrace will understand why this sculpture by the same artist caught my eye. It's very similar but something is missing...


Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-53

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

October 23, 2014

San Bonaventura

San Bonaventura

This church and an adjacent monastery were founded in 1620 by the Franciscan order of the Riformati (which gave the name to the Fondamenta dei Riformati in front). These Franciscans friars relocated from the island monastery of San Francesco del Deserto and received funding from the wealthy Zen family to build this religious complex on reclaimed land in northern Cannaregio, not far from the church of Sant’ Alvise.

The church is dedicated to St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), an Italian theologian and early follower of St. Francis of Assisi.

After the fall of the Venetian Republic and the great suppression of churches, the church and monastery were closed. The place was used as a factory and for other secular purposes until 1859, when it was purchased by a Venetian countess who gave the complex to the Carmelite nuns of Santa Teresa. In the early 20th century, the nuns ran a children’s hospital here, and the church was the private chapel for the convent.

The nuns are still there today and Mass is celebrated daily at 6:30 in the morning according to the Patriarch of Venice website. I've never found it open and going to Mass might be the only way to visit it. The church was behind scaffolding a few years ago – not sure if the restoration is completed yet or not.

San Bonaventura

This Google Earth view shows the cloisters, gardens, and so many trees.

San Bonaventura


San Bonaventura

This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in October 2014. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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