San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

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This is one of the greatest creations by the Venetian architect Palladio. Its sober and majestic Renaissance style make it a delight for the eyes of visitors passing by on gondolas or boats. The interior is enriched by outstanding and important paintings, like Tintoretto's fresco "The Last Supper".

On the island of San Giorgio, in front of St Mark's square, is the where a Benedictine monastery was once located.

Both the church and the monastery were modified more than once. The present structure is a design by Palladio, even though before this, other architects such as Michelozzi worked on it. Michelozzi was the patron of Cosimo de Medici. In this way, Renaissance art made its first appearance in this typically Gothic city.

Michelozzi was appointed to build the library of the monastery. Unfortunately it burnt down in 1614. The parts of the building that survived the fire are a dormitory named "La manica Lunga" and the cloisters.

The erection of the church by Palladio started in the year 1566. The facade was started in 1597 and finished in 1610, by Vincenzo Scamozzi, after the death of Palladio in 1580.

The church fits in harmoniously with its surroundings - it was built in order to overlook the basin of St. Mark. The structure of the Basilica has three naves. On the facade, majestic columns support the central part of the church. Inside, the series of geometrical spaces give the interior a harmonious appearance. The church houses important works by Jacopo Bassano, Sebastiano Ricci and Vittore Carpaccio, but the most significant is the Ultima Cena (Last Supper) (1592–94) by Tintoretto.

Today, the cloisters of San Giorgio Maggiore are the seat of the well–known Giorgio Cini Foundation, which deals with international art exhibitions.

The Last Supper by Tintoretto

Tintoretto's Last Supper

Tintoretto's Last Supper, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

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Although it is less popular than the work of the same name by Leonardo da Vinci, art critics still consider The Last Supper by Tintoretto to be a real masterpiece. Tintoretto painted the Last Supper several times in his life. 

He represented the holy moment of the first communion. The whole work is depicted in a darkness that evokes a sense of insecurity and mystery.

Light and dark continuously alternate themselves; the disciples sitting around the table and the other figures moving in the painting seem to be disquieting presences; the holy movements of the angels are very different from the Renaissance style of representation.

In this dark context, Jesus, the only illuminated figure, symbolizes absolute good. With his creative ability Tintoretto manages to represent a deep tension that emotionally involves the spectators. The work is considered to be masterpiece of the Mannerist-style, (high Renaissance period) and it is also a great example of the early Baroque. 

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