Hidden treasures

The Nativity in the Carmini Church in Venice

Unknown places & works
natività-carmini

The Nativity in the Carmini Church in Venice

Throughout the Christmas season we find ourselves surrounded by nativity scenes, both medium and large in size, but we must not forget that the Nativity of Jesus has also often been represented in paintings!

An excellent example, and a little different from the usual, is the Nativity painted by Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano in the Carmini Church in Venice.

The adoration of Baby Jesus takes place in an idyllic setting. Mary is near the wicker crib and behind her you can see Archangel Raphael and Tobiolo, with the fish and the dog. On the left, Saint Joseph is greeting a kneeling shepherd – whose portray is concealing the image of the person who commissioned the painting - who is offering a fruit basket and two pigeons as a gift. Behind them is another shepherd boy (maybe John the Baptist) and two noble female saints, Helena the Empress, with the True Cross, and Catherine of Alexandria, with the martyr’s palm and the broken spiked wheel at her feet. In the center of the representation are the ox and the donkey.

The work was commissioned by Giovanni and Caterina Calvo for the altar of a chapel in which Giovanni's tomb is located. The dating is uncertain, but could be around Catherine’s time of death, in 1508, which preceded her husband’s death occurred the following year. The presence of St. Catherine could refer to Giovanni’s late wife.

The painting features warmer chromatic tones than those previously painted by the artist, a sign indicative of his attention to the painting of a new style heralded by Giorgione and followed by Sebastiano del Piombo, Titian’s early works  and Bellini’s later ones.

The figures are represented with plastic compactness and chromatic sophistication, but also enlivened by gestures and gazes that give the painting a never seen-before affectivity. The surrounding environment, with the beautiful sky fading out on the horizon onto yellow ochre tones, presents an idyllic hue that perfectly complements the quiet intimacy of the characters in the foreground.

The church of Santa Maria dei Carmini is located in the Dorsoduro district, a few steps from the lively Campo Santa Margherita and the splendid 18th-century Ca' Rezzonico Museum in Venice.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The Royal Gardens of Venice are returning to life

giardini-reali
Unknown places & works

Venice never fails to amaze. After the disastrous high tide last November, the city shows its strong pride with the reopening, after ex...

View

Treviso: The curious legends about the origin of Treviso Red Chicory

radicchio_CC.Mon CEil
Did you know that...

Did you know that, according to an ancient popular saying, red chicory (radicchio as it is known in Italy) seems to have been born as a...

View

Venice: Acqua Alta: when a normal phenomenon becomes tragic

Acqua-alta-a-Venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that ‘Acqua Alta’ is an expression of Venetian dialect used by its inhabitants to describe the high tides that occur p...

View

Venice: Mars, Adam and Eve: the Doge's Palace celebrates their return

restauro-adamo-eva-ducale
Unknown places & works

After four years of delicate restoration work, the three fifteenth-century statues by the great artist Antonio Rizzo will be exceptiona...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View