I Gesuati

I Gesuati (43)

The classical lines of the façade of this temple, which may remind you of the extreme refinement of another Venetian church, the Chiesa del Redentore, built by Palladio in the Giudecca, are one of the most recognisable elements of the Zattere jetty.

The church owes its name to the religious order of the Jesuits, who until 1688 offered their services in the hospitals. Censured for moral reasons, the Gesuati were dissolved by the ecclesiastical authorities, headed in those days by Pope Clement IX. The land occupied by their convent and church, Santa Maria della Visitazione, were given to the Dominicans.

In 1724 the architect Giorgio Massari was entrusted with the construction of a new church, and after raising sufficient funds building work began in 1726. The works lasted for 10 years, and they also built, though it remained unfinished, a monastery in the rear part. 

Despite the fact that the outside, overlooked by 4 large Ionic columns and a triangular pediment with a central oval, is undoubtedly attractive, the grand treasures of I Gersuati are to be found inside, where it boasts a generous and exuberant ornamentation. With a single lengthened nave and rectangular in shape, I Gesuati also has vaulting with large windows and a choir crowned with a cupola.

While the sculptural part of the decoration was mainly entrusted to Gianmaria Morlaiter, the pictorial elements of this large rococo series are the work of several grand masters. 

Firstly, Giambattista Piazzeta pained an altarpiece that extols the figures of three illustrious saints who belonged to the order of the Dominicans: Hyacinth, Vincent Ferrer and Louis Bertrand.

The replica of this altarpiece can be found in another work of a similar nature painted by Giambattista Tiepolo, and which represents three saints of the order: Catherine of Siena, Rose of Lima and Agnes of Montepulciano.

However, perhaps the best example of Tiepolo’s brushwork is the key episodes of the life of Saint Dominic captured on the panels of the ceiling. The beautiful palette of the master’s colours is quite sublime in scenes such as the apparition of the Virgin in which the rosary for prayer is established. 

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