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Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Santa Maria dei Frari is one of Venice's most ancient churches, as it was built between the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries. Its remarkable dimensions and its Gothic style give the building a stark atmosphere which leaves a strong impression on visitors. Inside, many artistic treasures can be admired, such as Donatello's sculpture of John the Baptist and Titian's oil painting of the Assumption of the Virgin.

The church of Santa Maria dei Frari was commissoned by Franciscan monks after the Doge Jacopo Tiepolo donated a vast territory to them in Campo dei Frari, the heart of the San Polo district.

The construction of the church began in 1340 and was finished one century later. The current church is made of red bricks. The façade is typically gothic even though the church is composed of several architectural styles: it is, in fact, a mixture of early and late gothic. These do not clash with each other, instead creating a harmonious appearance.

The entrance is surmounted by a gothic arch; on the edge there is the statue of Cristo Risorto by Alessandro Vittoria. On the sides there are two columns in istrian stone. They support the statues of the Madonna with Bambino and San Fransceco by Bortolomeo Bon. The bell tower, built in the second half of the XIV° century, is made of terracotta. The church has a Latin cross–shape formed by three naves. Visitors will be fascinated by the majestic central nave. At the end of the nave, there is a wonderful presbytery.

The large altar, consecrated in 1516, contains a masterpiece, the "Assunta" by Titian. The church also houses other important works by Donatello and Antonio Rizzo.


The Assunta by Titian

Titian's Assunta

Titian's Assunta, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

Photo credits

The Assunta by Titian (1516–18) was originally located in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. It was later removed and put in the Academy Galleries but returned to the Church after the 1st World War.

The style of the masterpiece has many similarities with the painting of the same theme by Raffaello. The artist decided to abandon the realistic style of Bellini to create a more dramatic effect, but also to enrich the painting with symbolic meanings.

He represents the blessed Virgin in the top part of the canvas, as she goes up to the Heaven. 

Titian differentiates the ground from the Heaven with a series of clouds supported by angels. In this way he gives a more realistic context to this miraculous event.


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