John Ruskin: The Stones of Venice - "Venetian Index" - R

 



122 Raffaelle, Chiesa dell' Angelo

Said to contain a Bonifazio: otherwise of no importance.

 

123 Redentore, Church of the

It contains three interesting John Bellinis, and also, in the sacristy, a most beautiful Paul Veronese

 

124 Remer, Corte del., house in

The advance of the Gothic spirit was, for a few years, checked by this compromise between the round and the pointed arch. The truce was at last broken when it was discovered that the keystone would do duty both with a rounded underneath or a pointed. An example of the former is in Corte del Remer.

 

125 Rezzonico, Palazzo

on the Grand Canal.
Of the Grotesque Renaissance time, but less extravagant then usual.

 

126 Rialto, Bridge of the

The best building raised in the time of the Grotesque Renaissance; very noble in its simplicity, in its proportions, and in its masonry. Note especially the grand way in which the oblique archstones rest on the butments of the bridge, safe, palpably both to the sense and eye: note also the sculpture of the Annunciation on the southern side of it; how beautifully arranged, so as to give more lightness and grace to the arch - the dove, flying towards the Madonna, forming the keystone, - and thus the whole action of the figures being parallel to the curve of the arch, while all the masonry is at right angles to it. note, finally, one circumstance which gives peculiar firmness to the figure of the angel, and associates itself with the general expression of strength in the whole building; namely, that the sole of the advanced foot is set perfectly level, as if placed on the ground, instead of being thrown back behind like a heron's, as in most modern figures of this kind.
The sculptures themselves are not good; but these pieces of feeling in them are very admirable. The two figures on the other side, St. Mark and St. Theodore, are inferior, though all by the same sculptor, Girolamo Campagna.
The bridge was built by Antonio da Ponte, in 1588. It was anciently of wood, with a drawbridge in the centre, a representation of which may be seen in one of Carpaccio's pictures at the Accademia delle Belle Arti: and the traveller should observe that the interesting effect, both of this and the Bridge of Sighs, depends in great part on their both being more than bridges; the one a covered passage, the other a row of shops, sustained on an arch. No such effect can be produced merely by the masonry of the roadway itself.

 

127 Rio del Palazzo

This Rio is usually looked on by the traveler with great respect, or even horror, because it passes under the Bridge of Sighs. It is however, one of the principal thoroughfares of the city; and the bridge and its canal occupy, in the mind of a venetian, very much the position of Fleet St or Temple Bar to a Londoner.

 

129 Rocco, Church of St.

Notable only for the most interesting pictures by Tintoret which it contains.

 

130 Rocco, Scuola di San

An interesting building of the early Renaissance (1517), passing into Roman renaissance. The wreaths of leafage about its shafts are wonderfully delicate and fine, though misplaced.
As regard the pictures which it contains, it is one of the three most precious buildings in Italy; building, I mean, consistently decorated with a series of paintings at the time of their erection, and still exhibiting that series in its original order. I suppose there can be little question but that the three most important edifices of this kind in Italy are the Sistine Chapel, the Campo Santo of Pisa, and the Scuola di San Rocco at Venice: the first painted by Michael Angelo; the second by Orcagna, Benozzo Gozzoli, Pietro Laurati, and several other men whose works are as rare as they are precious; and the third by Tintoret.
Whatever the traveller may miss in Venice, he should, therefore, give unembarrassed attention and unbroken time to the Scuola di San Rocco; and I shall, accordingly, number the pictures, and note in them, one by one, what seemed to me most worthy of observation.
They are sixty-two in all, but eight of these are merely of children of children's heads, an two of unimportant figures. The number of valuable pictures is fifty-two; arranged on the walls and ceilings of three rooms, so badly lighted, in consequence of the admirable arrangements of the Renaissance architect, that it is only in the early morning that some of the pictures can be seen at all, nor can they ever be seen but imperfectly. They were all painted, however, for their places in the dark, and, as compared with Tintoret's other works, are therefore, for the most part, nothing more than vast sketches, made to produce, under a certain degree of shadow, the effect of finished pictures. Their treatment is thus to be considered as a kind of scene-painting; differing from ordinary scene-painting only in this, that the effect aimed at is not that of a natural scene, but of a perfect picture. They differ in this respect from all other existing works; for there is not, as far as I know, any other instance in which a great master has consented to work for a room plunged into almost total obscurity. It is probable that none but Tintoret would have undertaken the task, and most fortunate that he was forced to it. For in this magnificent scene-painting we have, of course, more wonderful examples, both of his handling and knowledge of effect, than could ever have been exhibited in finished pictures; while the necessity of doing much with few strokes keeps his mind so completely on the stretch throughout the work (while yet the velocity of production prevented his being wearied), that no other series of his works exhibits powers so exalted. On the other hand, owing to the velocity and coarseness of the painting, it is more liable to injury through drought or damp; and as the walls have been for years continually running down with rain, and what little sun gets into the place contrives to fall all day right on one or other of the pictures, they are nothing but wrecks of what they were; and the ruins of paintings originally coarse are not likely ever to be attractive to the public mind. Twenty or thirty years ago they were taken down to be retouched; but the man to whom the task was committed providentially dies, and only one of them was spoiled. I have found traces of this work upon another, but not to an extent very seriously destructive. The rest of the sixty-two, or, at any rate, all that are in the upper room, appear entirely intact.
Although, as compared with his other works, they are all very scenic in execution, there are great differences in their degrees of finish; and, curiously enough, some on the ceilings and others in the darkest places in the lower room are very nearly finished pictures, while the "Agony in the Garden," which is in one of the best lights in the upper room, appears to have been painted in a couple of hours with a broom for a brush.

 
Jan-Christoph Rößler