Palazzo Ducale II

Scala d’Oro       Vault

Palazzo Ducale: Scala d’Oro
photo: Gianfranco Zanovello

The Scala dei Censori leads the visitor on the other side of the courtyard inside. Inside we’ll take the Scala d’Oro (gold staircase) upstairs. This staircase was designed by Sansovino in 1558 and derives its name from the plastered and gilded vault by Alessandro Vittoria. This staircase leads to the Primo Piano Nobile and the apartments of the doges. The second part of the Scala d’Oro leads to the third floor and the board rooms. The Atrio Quadrato (square atrium) is upstairs. The wooden ceiling was painted by Tintoretto.

J.T. Hansen 'Sala delle Quattro Porte'

J.T. Hansen ‘Sala delle Quattro Porte’ 1905 – 1906

The Sala delle Quattro Porte is a large rectangular hall that serves as an entrance to the four rooms where Venice’s most influential political bodies used to convene: the Senate, Collegio, Council of Ten, and Cancelleria halls.

Heinrich Hansen ‘Sala del Collegio’

The Sala del Collegio (the Hall of the College) was the room where foreign delegations or important, famous personages were received and granted an audience by the College, a magistracy composed of the doge and six councilors. Following the fire in 1574, the hall underwent a comprehensive redecoration. The newly renovated space features a gilded ceiling that beautifully encloses a collection of artworks created by Veronese from 1578 to 1582. Veronese was also commissioned to create a colossal canvas positioned above the throne, adorning the end wall of the hall. See Web Gallery of Art.

Heinrich Hansen 'Sala del Collegio'

Paolo Veronese ‘Juno Showering Gifts on Venetia’ c. 1555

The Sala del Consiglio dei Dieci was the meeting room of the Council of Ten. This council was established to investigate crimes against the state and to persecute criminals. Veronese made a few marvellous paintings for this room. These paintings were so beautiful that they were taken by Napoleon to Brussels in 1797. The two most beautiful were returned to the Palazzo in 1920.

Henrich Hansen ‘Sala della Bussola’ 1821 – 1890

Henrich Hansen 'Sala della Bussola'
J.T. Hansen 'Sala della Bussola'

J.T. Hansen ‘Sala della Bussola’ 1908′

The Sala della Bussola also known as the Compass Room, is situated on the first floor of the Palazzo Ducale and serves as the main entrance hall to the public apartments. It derives its name from the large wooden compass rose that was once present on the floor, serving as a reference point for visitors and courtiers

We descend through the Scala dei Censori to the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Room of the Great Council).

The Sala del Maggior Consiglio
Joseph Heintz the Younger ‘Patricians vote new magistrates’ 1648-1650

Palazzo Ducale: Sala del Maggior Consiglio
photo: PabloClavo

In the Sala del Maggiore Consiglio, “[…] meetings of the Great Council were held, the most important political body in the Republic. A very ancient institution, this Council was made up of all the male members of patrician Venetian families over 25 years old, irrespective of their individual status, merits or wealth. This was why, in spite of the restrictions in its powers that the Senate introduced over the centuries, the Great Council continued to be seen as a bastion of Republican equality. Soon after work on the new hall had been completed, the 1577 fire damaged not only this Chamber but also the Scrutinio Room. The structural damage was soon restored, respecting the original layout, and all works were finished within a few years, ending in 1579–80.”
Source: Wikipedia.

Despite being a Doge, Faliero felt burdened by the constraints of his power. In 1355, during his inaugural year, he embarked on a coup. He undertook this audacious endeavor with the aspiration of attaining princely status.

Francisco Pradilla Ortiz ‘Marino Falier’ 1883

“[…] chronicler Marino Sanudo the Younger (Wikipedia) , who between 1496 and 1533 kept a detailed diary of which the fourty-seven parts are kept in the Biblioteca Marciana, revealed the reason [for the coup]. In 1354, a young aristocrat, Michele Steno, hassled a lady-in-waiting or the dogaressa at the Palazzo Ducale in a drunken stupor. When the doge had him removed from the hall, he saw an opportunity for revenge by writing some defamatory words above the ducal throne: ‘Marin Falier de la bella mujer – Lu la mantien e altri la galde.’ (Marino Falier with the beautiful wife; other men enjoy her while he maintains her.’ According to another chronicler, it said: ‘The doge’s wife gets screwed for her pleasure.’) This degrading incident and the mild punishment for Steno (he spent a month in jail) pushed the doge to attempt a coup, which was supposed to grant him more power so he could decide on these penalties. (According to another source, Falier wanted to execute all aristocrats who commented on his beautiful, young wife (Alcuina Gradenigo) and that was the reason for his beheading.) Later on, from 1400 to 1413, Michele Steno (Wikipedia) himself was a doge.” Translated from: Luc Verhuyck ‘Venezia Anekdotische reisgids’ Athenaeum­­-Polak & van Gennep, Amsterdam 2011 pp. 239-240

Zoom in
Francesco Hayez ‘Final Moments of Doge Marin Faliero on the “del Piombo” Staircase

Francesco Hayez ‘Final Moments of Doge Marin Faliero on the “del Piombo” Staircase’ detail
Pinacoteca di Brera

Having condemned Doge Marino Faliero to damnatio memoriae, his portrait that was displayed in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Great Council) in the Doge’s Palace was removed and the space painted over with a black shroud which can still be seen in the hall today. An inscription reads: Hic est locus Marini Faletro decapitati pro criminibus (“This is the location of Marino Faliero, beheaded for his crimes”).

Hic est locus Marini Faletro decapitati pro criminibus      In situ

Palazzo Ducale: Hic est locus Marini Faletro decapitati pro criminibus
photos: Blalthazar; text: Warburg and in situ: Falcodigiala

Tintoretto painted together with a few assistents Il Paradiso (the paradise) for this room. “Il Paradiso” is an enormous artwork, measuring approximately 22 feet in height and 82 feet in length. It was commissioned to replace a previous painting that was destroyed by the fire of 1577. Tintoretto received the commission in 1588 and completed the work in 1592.

Tintoretto ‘Il Paradiso’       Zoom in

Palazzo Ducale: Tintoretto 'Il Paradiso'   
Web Gallery of Art and Didier Descouens

Tintoretto ‘Il Paradiso’

The composition of the painting features a complex and dynamic composition. Tintoretto arranged a multitude of figures in a vast architectural setting. The composition is divided into several layers, with numerous figures of different sizes and poses interacting throughout the painting. Tintoretto was known for his skillful use of light and shade. In “Il Paradiso,” he employed a strong light source, illuminating the central figures and creating dramatic contrasts between light and dark. This technique enhances the sense of depth and adds intensity to the composition. Great attention was paid to the individual expressions and gestures of the figures in “Il Paradiso.” Each face and body language convey a unique emotion or narrative, adding depth and complexity to the composition.

Palazzo Ducale: Tintoretto 'Il Paradiso' detail

Paolo Veronese ‘Apotheosis of Venice’

The ceiling of the room is very interesting too. It is divided by 35 compartments that have been painted. The most important compartments are the central ones that  were painted by Veronese (Apotheosis of Venice Web Gallery of Art).

Canaletto  f.l.t.r. Palazzo Ducale, Ponte dei Sospiri  and the Palazzo delle Prigioni               Prigione Nuova Nowadays       Aerial

Canaletto 'Palazzo Ducale, Ponte dei Sospiri  and the Palazzo delle Prigioni '
photos: nowadays Abxbay and aerial: Kasa Fue

Ponte dei Sospiri       Zoom in

Ponte dei Sospiri  Venice
photos: Andrew Price and zoom: Nino Barbiera
Palazzo delle Prigioni: prison corridor
photo: Zairon

Through the signs, Prigioni, in the Palace of the Doges and the Ponte dei Sospiri (bridge of sighs) we go to the infamous dungeons, next to the Palace of the Doges. Casanova found this romantic city to be an important hunting ground. He escaped from these dungeons, but he was one of few.

Prigioni door and cell

Palazzo delle Prigioni: cell door
photos: Mike Locke and cell: Joanbanjo

Torture chamber

Palazzo delle Prigioni: Torture chamber
photo: Dimitris Kamaras

Continuation Venice day 3: San Marco I