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Zanipolo, arrogance or hope

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 27, 2022

📍 🇮🇹 Zanipolo, arrogance or hope

One of Venice's largest churches, and one built from 1240 to 1430 CE - therefore set in Gothic stones, but finished with Renaissance brushes. All began with a religious vision: Doge Tiepolo dreaming a dream in 1226, "white doves flying amongst roses, golden crosses upon their heads". Funds were immediately raised.

French author Chateaubriand introduces the nave finely during a 1833 journey: "you find here remains of doges with red draperies everywhere, obscuring the light, increasing the religious effects..."

No draperies now, less melodrama, but the tombs remain.

Pay attention to two funeral monuments especially - that of Doge Tommaso Mocenigo sculpted in 1424 (on the left on entering) and that of Marco Giustiniani erected earlier in 1347 (next to the choir, on the right). The latter, the most ancient, according to the English historian John Ruskin, "exhibits the character of central Venetian gothic, the naturalism of the foliage is on the increase but classical formalism is still retained..." The Virgin appears in the center with the Christ Child, flanked by apostles. Nothing conspicuous, nothing intrusive in these dark stones.

With Mocenigo, and in the 15th century in general, "we can trace the vanishing of the expressions of religious feeling and heavenly hope, the disappearance of biblical figures, together with the more and more arrogant setting forth of the virtues of the dead represented by Roman-like statues."

A similar individualistic dynamic (some would say “early Renaissance”) with the grandiose tomb of doge Vendramin (1480), whose short reign was mostly marked by a consequential defeat against Turkey.

The more you show off…

____ Sources ____

>> François René de Chateaubriand, “Memoirs from Beyond the Grave”, 1833

>> John Ruskin, “The Stones of Venice”, 1851

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13-15th CE