Prosperity and Public Welfare
The Scuola della Misericordia was founded on Isola Valverde next to the ancient Abbazia Santa Maria della Valverde, as was shared in a previous post, “Venice – Campo dell’ Abbazia” (follow the link to read it: http://wp.me/pVUDj-1vw ).
The scuola prospered and rapidly outgrew its quarters, hopefully because of its good service to the general welfare of the community. It supported the operation of a hospital for indigent women (and an adjacent cemetery!) on the grounds of the Abbey, a common mission for “Misericordia” organizations throughout much of Italy.
Newly Grand and Really Big
With prosperity, the officially certified Scuola Grande commissioned a new Sansovino designed building (only the best architect of the age!) was built across the Rio della Sensa to the south of the old home by the Abbazia – almost to completion by 1583 – a massive structure towering over the surrounding city, and even visible from the Grand Canal up the Rio de Noal.
The Scuola turned its back on the old Abbazia to focus on a new south-side campo of its own Campo de la Misericordia along the Rio de la Misericordia. The property completed and dominated the eastern end of the island, Isola Sensa.
We were privileged to see the gymansium sized interiors (stacked two high) of the Scuola Nuova in 2011, when it housed two art exhibitions. On the primo piano, up about 76 very high steps, the Swiss artist Pierre Case displayed 20 of his “Mystery of the Sottoportego” works (Read more about the man and his art on the “RenaissanceRules” post, “Pierre Case: the Mystery of the Sotoportego, via the link: http://wp.me/pVUDj-1mh ).
On the ground floor, Belgian artist Jan Fabre displayed a striking and disturbing series of contemporary sculptures in the exhibit, “La Pieta’ di Michelangelo Rivisita”. You can view that exhibition on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4NmZVlf3R8 and…
see the Ground Floor at the same time!
The upper floor perimeter walls were scaffolded full height for restoration work, including extraordinary floor-to-ceiling murals. The lower floor’s grand columns and pilasters demonstrate the wealth of design detail that had been present throughout. Also present were extensive cracks in the mortared brick walls, leading us to hope that structural repair is also is forthcoming. We look forward to re-entering the vast building in a few years, to see it restored to its original glory. In the meanwhile, we will recall the wonder of Pierre Case’s paradoxical installation, the mystery of…
The Sottoportego Upstairs