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

 



131 Sagredo, Palazzo

on the Grand Canal.
Much defaced, but full of interest. Its sea story is restored: its first floor has a most interesting arcade of the early thirteenth century third-order windows; its upper windows are the finest fourth and fifth orders of early fourteenth century: the group of fourth orders in the centre being brought into some resemblance to the late Gothic traceries by the subsequent introduction of the quatrefoils above them.

See also Palazzo Sagredo for the current state of the building

 

132 Salute, Church of Sta. Maria della, on the Grand Canal

One of the earliest buildings of the Grotesque Renaissance, rendered impressive by its position, size, and general proportions. These latter are exceedingly good; the grace of the whole building being chiefly dependent on the inequality of size in its cupolas, and pretty grouping of the two campaniles behind them. It is to be generally observed that the proportions of buildings have nothing whatever to do with the style of general merits of their architecture. An architect trained in the worst schools, and utterly devoid of all meaning or purpose in his work may yet have such natural gift of massing and grouping as will render all his structures effective when seen from a distance: such a gift is very general with the late Italian builders, so that many of the most contemptible edifices in the country have good stage effect so long as we do not approach them. The Church of the Salute is farther assisted by the beautiful flight of steps in front to fit down to the canal; and its facade is rich and beautiful of its kind, and was chosen by Turner for the principal object in this well-known view of the Grand Canal. The principal faults of the building are the meagre windows in the sides of the cupola, and the ridiculous disguise of the buttresses under the form of colossal scrolls; the buttresses themselves being originally a hypocrisy, for the cupola is stated by Lazari to be of timber, and therefore needs none. The sacristy contains several precious pictures: the three on its roof by Titian, much vaunted, are indeed as feeble as they are monstrous; but the small Titian, "St. mark, with Sts. Cosmo and Damian," was, when I first saw it, to my judgment, by far the first work of Titian's in Venice. It has since been restored by the Academy, and it seemed to me entirely destroyed, but I had not time to examine it carefully.
At the end of the larger sacristy is the lunette which once decorated the tomb of the Doge Francesco Dandolo (see above, page 74); and, at the side of it, one of the most highly finished Tintorets in Venice.

 

133 Salvatore, Church of St

Base Renaissance, occupying the place of the ancient church, under the porch of which the Pope Alexander III. is said to have passed the night. M. Lazari states it to have been richly decorated with mosaics; now, all is gone.
In the interior of the church are some of the best examples of Renaissance sculptural monuments in Venice. it is said to possess an important pala of silver, of the thirteenth century, one of the objects in Venice which I much regret having forgotten to examine; besides two Titians, a Bonifazio, and a John Bellini. The latter ("The Supper at Emmaus") must, I think, have been entirely repainted: it is not only unworthy of the master, but unlike him; as far, at least, as I could see from below, for it is hung high.

 

134 Sanudo, Palazzo

At the Miracoli.
A noble Gothic palace of the fourteenth century, with Byzantine fragments an cornices built into its walls, especially round the interior court, in which the staircase is very noble. Its door, opening on the quay, is the only one in Venice entirely uninjured; retaining its wooden valve richly sculptured, its wicket for examiniation of the stranger demanding admittance, and its quaint knocker in for the form of the fish.

See also Palazzo Soranzo van Axel for the current state of the building

 

135 Scalzi, Church of the

It possesses a fine John Bellini, and is renowned through Venice for its precious marbles. I omitted to notice above, in speaking of the buildings of the Grotesque Renaissance, that many of them are remarkable for a kind of dishonesty, even in the use of true marbles, resulting not from motives of economy, but from mere love of juggling and falsehood for their own sake. I hardly know which condition of mind is meanest, that which has pride in plaster made to look like marble, or that which takes delight in marble made to look like silk. Several of the later churches in Venice, more especially those of the Jesuiti of San Clemente, and this of the Scalzi, rest their chief claims to admiration on their having curtains and cushions cut out of rock. The most ridiculous example is in San Clemente, and the most curious and costly are in the Scalzi; which latter church is a perfect type of the vulgar abuse of marble in every possible way, by men who had no eye for colour, and no understanding of any merit in a work of art but that which arises from costliness of material, and such powers of imitation as are devoted in England to the manufacture of peaches and eggs out of Derbyshire spar.

 

136 Sebastian, Church of St.

The tomb, and of old the monument, of Paul Veronese. It is full of his noblest pictures, or of what once were such; but they seemed to me for the most part destroyed by repainting. I had not time to examine them justly, but I would especially direct the traveller's attention to the small Madonna over the second altar on the right of the nave, still a perfect and priceless treasure.

 

137 Servi, Church of the

Only two of its gates and some ruined walls are left, in one of the foulest districts of the city. It was one of the most interesting monuments of the early fourteenth century Gothic; and there is much beauty in the fragments yet remaining. How long they may stand I know not, the whole building having been offered me for sale, ground and all, or stone by stone, as I chose, by its present proprietor, when I was last in Venice. More real good might at present be effected by any wealthy person who would devote his resources to the preservation of such monuments wherever they exist, by freehold purchase of the entire ruin, and afterwards by taking proper charge of it, and forming a garden round it, than by any other mode of protecting or encouraging art. There is no school, no lecturer, like a ruin of the early ages.

 

138 Severo, Fondamenta San, palace at

One of the most interesting example of the transition from the rich Byzantine capitals to a pure and sever type, and the rich sculptures vanishing from the walls, nothing but the marble facing remaining.

 

139 Silvestro, Church of St.

Of no importance in itself, but it contains two very interesting pictures: the first, a "St. Thomas of Canterbury with the Baptist and St. Francis," but Girolamo Santa Croce, a superb example of the Venetian religious school; the second by Tintoret, namely "Baptism of Christ".

 

140 Simeone, Profeta, Church of St.

Very important, though small, possessing the precious statue of St. Simeon. The rare early Gothic capitals of the nave are only interesting to the architect; but in the little passage by the side of the church, leading out of the Campo, there is a curious Gothic monument built into the wall, very beautiful in the placing of the angels in the spandrils, and rich in the vine-leaf moulding above.

 

141 Simeone, Piccolo, Church of St.

One of the ugliest churches in Venice or elsewhere. Its black dome, like an unusual species of gasometer, is the admiration of modern Italian architects.

 

142 Sospiri, Ponte de'

The well-known "Bridge of Sighs," a work of no merit, and of a later period (see Vol. II., p. 304), owing the interest it possesses chiefly to its pretty name, and to the ignorant sentimentalism of Byron.

 

143 Stefano, Church of St.

An interesting building of central Gothic, the best ecclesiastical example of it in Venice. The west entrance is much later than any of the rest, and is of the richest Renaissance Gothic, a little anterior to the Porta della Carta, and first-rate of its kind. The manner of the introduction of the figure of the angel at the top of the arch is full of beauty. Note the extravagant crockets and cusp finials as signs of decline.

 

144 Stefano, Church of St.

at Murano
The church no longer exists.

 

145 Strope, Campiello della, house in

There is a small house, never of any size or pretension, and now inhabited only by the poor, in the Campiello della Strope, close to the Church of San Giacomo de Lorio. It is remarkable for its excessive purity of curve , and is of a very early date, its mouldings being simpler than usual.

 
Jan-Christoph Rößler