Hidden treasures

A painting by Rubens in the church of Santa Maria del Giglio

Unknown places & works
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A painting by Rubens in the church of Santa Maria del Giglio

Every church in Venice hides small masterpieces... Yet, naturally, nobody would expect to find a painting by the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) in the church of Santa Maria del Giglio, located in the St. Mark’s district.

Of ancient foundation, the church was rebuilt in Baroque style in the second half of the seventeenth century; the incredible façade, designed by Giuseppe Sardi, was built thanks to the legacy of the patrician Antonio Barbaro to celebrate his glory and that of his family.

Inside the building is the Molin chapel, which houses this unexpected masterpiece by Rubens: Madonna with a Child and San Giovannino.

It is unknown who ordered the commission or where it was originally located, but it can be assumed that it was painted between 1600 and 1608, during the years in which the Antwerp painter was in Italy.

Unfortunately, the painting suffered extensive damage during a fire; the restoration work contained many imperfections and was carried out with inappropriate colors... In fact, in the 1800s the picture was considered 'profane', as the Virgin openly showed both her breasts and the child's genitals were visible right at the center of the painting, so a careless restorer thought it was a good idea to veil one of the breasts and cover the child to bring the profane back to sacred...

The church of Santa Maria del Giglio is open from Monday to Saturday, from 10.30 to 16.30... What do you think about visiting it with one of our expert guides in Venice?

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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