Scuola Grande of San Marco
The Scuola Grande of San Marco, overlooks the large square called Campo Santi Giovanni and Paolo. It iso ne of the most important Renaissance architectural works in Venice.
Today it is used as the entrance to Venice city’s main hospital called St Giovanni and Paolo.
The school was formed in 1260 and initially had its seat in the church of Santa Croce near Piazzale Roma near the Papadopoli Gardens.
In 1437 the Dominicans of St Giovanni and Paolo gave the confraternity property on which to build their school. Work was directed by Pietro Lombardo and Giovanni Buora but it was completely lost in a fire in 1485.
Rebuilding began under Mauro Codussi with plans for a larger and even more richly decorated building than before. Later in 1523, it as further enlarged at the back towards the Rio dei Mendicanti thanks to Jacopo Sansovino.
The façade is asymmetrical and mirros the interior layout with a room on the left and the Sala dell’Albergo on the right, very richly decorated with high-reliefs. In the half moon niche above the big entrance door is a high relief depicting St Mark with the brotherhood further above the depiction of Charity or ’Carità’. Both are by Bartolomeo Bon.
The lower decorations consist of two ST Mark’s lions and two episodes from the life of St Mark, “the Baptism of St Aniano and the “Healing of St Aniano.” They are by Lombardo.
On the upper level of the building are the meeting room and ths Sala dellìAlbergo with a magnificent sectioned wooden ceiling finished in gold finishes. The rooms were rich with art works but during the closures of the Napoleonic era, they were scattered or lost. Some paintings from the life of St Mark by Jacopo Palma il Vecchio, Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Domenico Tintoretto, Vittore Belliniano and Padovanino were brought back to their original home.
Others such as the Miracle of St Mark by Jacopo Tintoretto and paintings by Paris Bordone, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini are now exhibited in the Accademia Gallery or in the gallery Brera.
In 1807 the confraternity was closed and the building used as a military hospital which was then transformed into the actual hospital we have today by the Austrian government.
Outside the school i san equestrian statue dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni, one of the most enterprising sea captains of the 15th century.
The monument was executed by Andrea di Francesco di Cione, also called Verrocchio. He was a teacher to Leonardo da Vinci. The proud sea captain originally from Bergamo asked that a monument be erected to him outside St Mark’s.
He meant outside the Basilica but the Republic only partially followed his last wishes by erecting it outside the school of St Mark instead..