Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco, was dedicated to the protector of plague vicitms. It is a beautiful Rennaissance building whose interiori s rich with works of art by Tintoretto, Giorgione, Tiziano, Giambattista Tiepolo and wooden sculptures by Francesco Pianta.When the school was first instituted in 1478, its members used the Church of St Guiliano and St Silvestro. When they bought the relics of St Rocco in 1485, it was necessary to find a building grand enough to house the relics but also large enough to accomodate all the devoted faithful.
The school was built on land belonging to the church of St Pantalon and of the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. The work was given to Pietro Bon but passed through two other hands before it was finished.
Bon in fact was asked to follow a strict series of instructions for the school’s design. The governing bodies of the school wanted to copy models of other schools already present in the city.
There was to be two rooms one on top of the other, forming the principle body of the school. The bottom room or Sala Terrena was divided into three naves and accessible from the outside square. From this same room, was a staircase ‘a tribunale’ finishing on a dome-roofed landing and opening onto the Sala Superiore where the brotherhood met.
In this room a door gave access to the Sala Dell’Albergo built above a passageway portico called ‘dei Morti’ or ‘the dead’. This in turn opened onto the square through a second door in the façade.
Conflict and disagreements led to Bon’s dismessa. His place was taken by Sante Lombardo who was in turn replacef by Antonio Abbondi, whose nickname was Scarpagnino. He was at the height of his career and on his death in 1549 had completed virtually the entire work.
Decoration work began in 1564 by Jacopo Robusti, who was nicknamed Tintoretto, and finished in 1588. They consists of 70 artworks. The work elevated Tintoretto’s fame as one of the greats both in Venice and the world. Some critics go so far as to say the body of work is for Venice what the Sistine Chapel is for Rome.
The paintings in the Sala Terrena are dedicated to the life of the Virgin and Christ’s childhood: the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Escape into Egypt, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Presentation at the Temple, the Asuumption.
In the Sala Superiore, episdoes from the Old and New Testaments are based around three themes found in the three paintings on the ceiling: Moses bringing forth water from the rock (miracle of the water), the miracle of the bronze serpent (healing of sickness) and the Israelites receiving manna from the sky (miracle of the bread).
Thirst, sickness and hunger are the three corporal sufferances and are what St Rocco, and the school, turned its attention to. Noteworthy also are the depictions of Christ’s Baptism, the healing at the pool of Bethzatha, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Last Supper and the Moltiplication of the Loaves and Fish.
On the Sala dell’Albergo’s ceiling is St Rocco’s Glory in which he is depicted surrounded by allegorical figures from other Venetian schools . St John the Evangelist, St Mark, St Teodoro, the Charity and Misericordia. The wall paintings are dedicated to the passion and death of Christ: Christ before Pilate, Ecce Homo, the Road to Calvary and on the back wall, the Crucifixion which is one of Tintoretto’s few signed paintings.
As with the other schools, it was momentarily closed in the 1800s. But this lasted a short time because of the disapproval of the Venetians. It was for this and for the special love the residents had for the school, that the artworks were not lost.
Today the school continues its charity works and hosts concerts and cultural events.
Hours: from 28/03 to 02/11 - 9.00am – 5.30pm; from 03/11 to 27/03 - 10.00am – 5.00pm
Entrance: full price € 7,00 ( audio guide included), reduced € 5,00 (up to 26 years and for groups of at least 20 people. Free for guide. Reduced € 3,00 for school groups ( elementary, intermediate, high school up to 18 years on presentation of a list of students on official signed by the school. Teachers: one teacher free entrance every 20 students), free (for children under 18 years, part of a family group and accompanied by at least one parent, for religious and for those accompanying the handicapped.
Address: San Polo, 3052, 30125 Venezia