Hidden treasures

The frescoes in the cloister of Santo Stefano monastery in Venice

Unknown places & works

The frescoes in the cloister of Santo Stefano monastery in Venice

The majestic Gothic church of Santo Stefano stands in  St Mark's in Venice. It was once home to the convent of the Augustinian Hermit monks. It was abolished after the fall of the Venice Republic and it is now the headquarters of the Inland Revenue.

From the door of the nave on the left you can access the cloister, built in 1529, and designed by Scarpagnino after a fire destroyed the previous structure. At the centre is a well-head and, around, it is surrounded by a portico; we know from documentary sources that Giovanni Antonio Pordenone (Pordenone 1484 c. - Ferrara 1539) had painted in the early thirties of the 16th century - after the fire - scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

After the Napoleonic suppression of early 1800s, the cloister suffered a slow decline until the remnants of the frescoes were detached and moved to the Franchetti Gallery at the Ca' d'Oro on the Canal Gande.

The three fragments depicting the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, Christ and the Samaritan and Christ and Mary Magdalene are still legible today. These works are characterized by a strong use of colour, and a constructive soft and articulated line. A second group of frescoes, depicting three figures of Virtue and others not so easily identified with male figures and putti inside architectural features, are instead attributed to Domenico Campagnola (Venice? 1500 - Padua 1564), though, especially the figures of male nudes, seem more difficult to relate to the artist.

Besides the remains of these precious frescoes, the Giorgio Franchetti Gallery houses many other outstanding works, such as' San Sebastian' by Andrea Mantegna and Titian, Guardi and Van Dyck, not forgetting the stunning location of the gallery, hosted at the Ca d' Oro, one of the most beautiful palaces on the Grand Canal…
A visit that should not to be missed during your stay in Venice, and perhaps accompanied by one of our guides to fully appreciate the history and the art housed in this majestic palace!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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