Venice: Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista - Atrium
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John Singer Sargent






Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista

Scuola meaning school

From:  Philip Resheph 
Date: October, 2000

Located just north of the Frari in E4 


The Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista is one of the six Scuole Grandi that played an  important part in the complex Venetian system of social checks and balances. 

San Giovanni Evangelista started in a building that had  formerly been a home for the elderly. As a  result, the building is L-shaped.  The courtyard is protected by a screen with a magnificent eagle pediment and a frieze of leaf-sprays by Pietro Lombardo, while the building itself contains a double-staircase by Coducci.

From Joann Zimmerman:

Scuole were religious confraternities. They existed for the purposes of religious self-improvement, charitable deeds, and general fellowship. Scuole grandi were large all-male confraternities whose  memberships were drawn from the upper and middle classes across the entire city. [There were other Scuole, but the grandi were just male.]  There were six  of these by the end of the sixteenth century, and a seventh was added in the seventeenth century.  The original four (San Marco, San Giovanni Evangelista, Carita, and Misericordia) 

All the scuole . . .  had meeting places. Sometimes these were churches,  but more often  . . . there were separate buildings, which  would frequently be adjacent to a church, monastery or convent.
(Joann Zimmerman)


Contained in a tight grouping is three building: Frari (with its 70-metre high campanile),  the Renaissance magnificence Scuola of San Rocco, and this scuola of San Giovanni Evangelista. These buildings contain perhaps the  greatest concentration of innovative and influential works of art in the city outside Piazza San Marco.

And it ain't just art: the monastery buildings of the Frari now contain the State Archives, a monument to the Venetian reluctance ever to throw anything away. In 300 rooms, about 15  million volumes and files are conserved, relating to all aspects of Venetian history, starting from the year 883. It is said that only the Spanish archives at Simancas approach them in scope and detail. Faced with this daunting wealth of information, ranging from ambassadors' dispatches on foreign courts to spies' reports on noblemen's non-regulation cloaks, grown historians have been reduced to quivering wrecks.

North of here runs Rio Marin, a canal with fondamente on both sides, lined by some fine buildings; these include the late-sixteenth century Palazzo Soranzo Capello, with a small garden (to the rear) that figures in D'Annunzio's torrid novel "ll Fuoco" and Henry James's more restrained "The Aspern Papers", and the seventeenth-century Palazzo Gradenigo, whose garden was once large enough to host bullfights.


By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2004 all rights reserved
Created 11/3/2000
Updated 3/31/2004