San Trovaso and Gesuati

Ponte Longo and the Rio Trovaso      Aerial

Ponte Longo  Rio Trovaso Venice
photos: Didier Descouens; aerial: Ekaterina Valinakova

We walk along the Fondamenta Zattere towards the San Trovaso and see the Rio San Trovaso where the church by the same name is situated.

Rio San Trovaso

Rio San Trovaso Venice
photo: Gary Campbell-Hall

Gondola Wharf        San Trovaso and Wharf     Wharf 1890 -1900

Wharf San Trovaso Venice
photos: Jorge Franganill and warf San Trovaso: aconcaqua

This is one of the few wharfs that still produce gondolas. Crafting a gondola is very time consuming. It takes a few months, using eight (!) different wood types.


Wharf San Trovaso gondola
photo: aconcagua

Gondolas are (approx.) eleven metres in length (actually 10.835) and average about 1.4 metres wide. They weigh around four-hundred kilograms. Building a gondola takes about two months and requires a lot of expertise, an aesthetic eye and craftsmanship; the latter particularly needed for folding the damp wood in a softly burning fire.  Because it is getting increasingly difficult finding qualified employees, the craftsmen usually work alone. A gondola comprises two-hundred-eighty parts and is made from eight kinds of wood: spruce, cherry, larch, mahogany, walnut, elm, oak and linden. The boats aren’t glued, but are fixed together with galvanised nails.  Translated from: Luc Verhuyck ‘Venezia Anekdotische reisgids voor Venetië’ Athenaeum­­-Polak & van Gennep, Amsterdam 2011 pp. 33-34

Gondola Venice
photo: fotogoocom

The San Trovaso has two facades because the church used to border two groups: the Castellani and the Nicoletti. These citizen groups were in a conflict that lasted until the 19th century. Of course, the rivalling parties never wanted to enter the church through the same door. So the solution was to create two facades and thus two doors. The southern door was to be used by the Castellani, the western one by the Nicoletti.

Southern facade       Western facade

San Trovaso Southern facade  Venice
photos: Wolfgang Modorer; western facade: Didier Descouens

San Trovaso with two facades

San Trovaso two facades Venice
photo: Didier Descouens

San Trovaso interior              The other side

San Trovaso interior  Venice
photos: Didier Descouens
Michele Giambono ‘St. Chrysogonus on Horseback’

Michele Giambono ‘St. Chrysogonus on Horseback’ c. 1446

The church has has a prime example of international style with a painting by Giambono ‘St. Chrysogonus on Horseback’. International gothicism is a style that arose at the 14th century French courts and spread all over Europe. Generally, this style is easily recognised by it’s nice looking decorative lines. In this painting, dating to the early 15th century, the gown and flag of the knight wave around gracefully.

Cappella Clary     Zoom in     Panel

The Renaissance arrived late to Venice; Gothicism and especially Byzantine art prevailed for quite some time. One good example of early-Renaissance can be found in this church, namely in a small chapel where some of the panels were removed to accommodate an altar (Palma il Giovane), likely from 1470.

San Trovaso: Cappella Clary
photos: Sailko

“In the chancel are two canvases, Adoration of the Magi and Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple (before 1587) by Domenico Tintoretto, brought here from the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The left rear chapel, commissioned by Antonio Milledonne, has a Temptations of Saint Anthony Abbot by Jacopo Tintoretto. In addition the St. Chrysogonus on Horseback (c. 1444) was painted by Michele Giambono. The Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento has a Last Supper by the elder Tintoretto companied by a copy of Christ washing the feet of the disciples by the same painter. The original is now housed in the National Gallery in London.” Cited from Wikipedia

Jacopo Tintoretto ‘Last Supper’ 1566

San Trovaso: Jacopo Tintoretto 'Last Supper'

In this Last Supper, just as in the San Marcuola, Tintoretto is still heavily influenced by the poligrafi. Just to reiterate, these were writers who wrote for the common folk, with working class humor, mockery and laden with folk expressions. Comedy writer Andrea Calmo, a poligrafi, wrote an eulogy for Tintoretto. Calmo praises some facets of Robusti’s work, including the speed of painting, the so-called prestezza. He admired Tintoretto’s ability ‘to portray a figure from nature in half an hour.’ However, in just half an hour, you skillfully wield your paintbrush, a mere crumb of white lead and egg white, and effortlessly portray a natural figure. Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine how many cobblers, tailors, and builders would struggle to even grasp the basics of handling colors over the course of two decades. Source: Tom Nichols, ‘Tintoretto Tradition and Identity,’ Reaktion Books, London, 1999 p.77

San Trovaso: Tintoretto 'Last Supper' detail

Tintoretto ‘Last Supper’ detail

The back figure grabbing a wine jug is an introductory figure in the story. The lower class figures contrast sharply the quiet and idealised Christ figure similar to the Last Supper by Tintoretto in the San Marcuola. According to ‘serious’ critics, such folkish yokels were an insult. For instance, painters Félibien and Poussin claimed Tintoretto failed to add dignity to his subject. Classicist Lanzi wrote in 1792 that the apostles of Tintoretto could just as easily be mistken for gondoliers. Source: Tom Nichols, ‘Tintoretto Tradition and Identity,’ Reaktion Books, London, 1999


We continue west. The Zattere ai Gesuati has a church that goes by the same name (Wikipedia Gesuati).

Zattere ai Gesuati       Zoom

Zattere ai Gesuati Venice
photos: Nino Barbieri and zoom: Dimitris Kamaras

Gesuati view from Canale della Giudecca       Gesuati in urban context

Gesuati view from Canale della Giudecca
photos: Terence Faircloth urban context: Ekaterina Valinakova

Gesuati facade

Gesuati facade Venice
photo: Matt Buck
photo: Sailko

Maria del Rosario       Zoom in

The Santa Maria del Rosario, renowned as Gesuati, has frequently featured depictions of Mary, which comes as no surprise.

Gesuati nave Mary Venice
photo: Andrew rabbott

This church was founded by the Jesuits, but is now in hands of Dominicans, and Tiepolo once worked here. He completed a large ceiling piece, but also a painting. We will have a closer look at his art.


The ceiling piece consists of three large panels. The subject deals with the founder of the Order of Dominicans. After taking over the church from the Jesuits, the Dominicans commissioned Tiepolo to add ceiling frescos. Framed inside stuccowork there are three large panels on the ceiling, ‘The Glory of St. Dominic’, ‘The Institution of Rosary’ and finally ‘The Virgin appearing to St. Dominic’ (photo ceiling: Architas).

Gesuati: Tiepolo 'institution of the Rosary'
photo: in situ: Sailko

The institution of the Rosary 1737 – 1739      In situ     Rosary

The middle panel ranks as a very good artwork by the painter. We will discuss at the location why Tiepolo must have been strongly influenced by Paolo Veronese that we just saw at the San Sebastiano.

To the right of the aisle is another work by Tiepolo. Mary is sitting on a throne that is carried by a golden cloud. Below her, one sees three holy women of the Dominican order, namely St. Catherine, St. Rosa of Lime and Agnes of Montepulciano.

Tiepolo ‘Virgin Mary with Saints’

‘A oil painting on canvas by G.B. Tiepolo is above the first altar on the right. Although the canvas had been prepared by December 1739, the finished painting  was not installed in the church until 1748. It shows three female Dominican saints: St Catherine of Siena standing on the left, holding a cross with the crucified Christ. St Rose of Lima, standing on the right, holding the Christ child, who is holding a rose. St Agnes of Montepulciano (who had only been canonised in 1726), seated and holding a small cross. Seated behind and above the three saints is the Madonna, seeming detached from and unnoticed by them.’

Tiepolo ‘Virgin Mary with Saints Catherine, Rose of Lima and Agnes of Montepulciano’ 1747-1748

Gesuati: Tiepolo 'Virgin Mary with Saints' altarpiece
photo: Didier Descouens

We head north and we cross the Canal Grande at the Accademia towards the Santo Stefano.

Ponte dell’Accademia

Ponte dell'Accademia
photo: Dimitris Kamaras

Continuation Venice day 6: Santo Stefano and Scala Contarini del Bovolo