Hidden treasures

The Dressed Madonnas of the Diocesan Museum in Venice

Local Traditions
madonna-vestita

The Dressed Madonnas of the Diocesan Museum in Venice

Right behind St Mark's Square, there is a small but fascinating museum: the Diocesan Museum of Venice. Located in the ancient Monastery of St. Apollonia, of which it retains the incredible Romanesque cloister - the oldest of Venice - the Diocesan Museum has a large collection of sacred jewellery, as well as a picture gallery consisting of works from churches that have been destroyed or closed to worship.

Recently the so-called 'Dressed Madonnas' have again been shown to the public, i.e. the statues of the Virgin Mary, represented alone or with Child, often adorned with sumptuous clothes and fabrics very common in the Venice lagoon.

These sculptures, rarely made entirely of wood, have a puppet structure, with well-defined exposed parts (face and neck, hands, feet) made of wood, while the rest of the body is made of padded and papier-mâché armour. These statues were often chosen by a working-class clientele, who could not afford the finest materials and also, often used for processions, due to their ease of transport.

Many dressed Madonnas have unfortunately disappeared, following the Napoleonic suppression or because they were considered disrespectful by many Venetian patriarchs in the 1800s and 1900s, who replaced them with marble statues.

Fortunately in the Diocesan Museum of Venice, there are some examples of these Madonnas, such as the sumptuous Lady of the Rosary (second half of the 18th century) of the  St Martino church in Burano, the Madonna of the People (first half of the 18th century, also with additions of the 19th century), originating from St Geremia and the 17th-century Madonna of the Rosary of  Santa Maria Elisabetta in Lido.

If you want to visit this or other fascinating sights of Venice with a private guided tour contact us now! Our guides will accompany you to explore the city, responding to your every curiosity and sharing many interesting anecdotes about the places and monuments encountered along the way.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Verona: Villa Mosconi Bertani in Valpolicella

villa-mosconi-bertani
Historical Curiosities

If you are passionate about wine and history, you cannot miss out on a visit to Villa Mosconi Bertani in Valpolicella (province of Vero...

View

Venice: The Sacristy of the Church of St. Stephen's

sacrestia-santo-stefano
Unknown places & works

In one of the most beautiful and sunniest squares in Venice there stands the imposing Church of St. Stephen, erected at the behest of t...

View

Vicenza: The Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa

Ponte-degli-Alpini-Bassano
Historical Curiosities

If you are passionate about bridges, you cannot miss out on a visit to the Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa, in the Province ...

View

Venice: The boats of Venice’s Lagoon

barche-veneziane
Local Traditions

Those arriving in Venice for the first time often think that the famous gondolas are the only boats plying the city’s canals... In re...

View

Top posts

Verona: The Sigurtà Park in Valeggio sul Mincio

sigurtà
Unknown places & works

Sigurtà Garden Park is a 60 hectare-large natural park located in Valeggio sul Mincio, in the province of Verona, about 8 km from Pesc...

View

Venice: The graffiti of the ancient merchants on Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice

Fondaco_dei_Tedeschi
Historical Curiosities

Each building located along the Grand Canal has an amusing story or a mystery to tell... After having been the Post Office building for...

View

Padua: Padua, the Iliad, the Aeneid and Dante's Inferno

padova-antenore
Mysteries & Legends

What do the Italian city of Padua and Dante's Inferno have in common? Apparently nothing, but if you dig in the medieval legends you wi...

View

Venice: The Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice as the film set of 'Casanova'

Sala_Capitolo
Film Locations

In 2005 the film ‘Casanova' was shot in Venice, directed by Lasse Hallström and which starred the late Heath Ledger. Among the many ...

View