1. Scuola Vecchia della Misericordia, by Bartolomeo Bon, now in London


Scuola Vecchia

A beautiful relief now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. What remains above the portal of the scuola is the scar left when the relief was removed in 1612. It was commissioned to Bartolomeo Bon who at the age of 74, and probably with the help of his assistants, produced this masterpiece in 1448. Originally, Mary wore a crown depicting her as Queen of Heaven, but the crown was chiseled off in the XVIII century. The upper part of the relief, above Mary's head, is made of plaster. Remains of blue paint indicate that the relief was once painted. Mary is in front of the Tree of Jesse which shows Jesus' lineage. (The Tree of Jesse has its origin in a passage from the Book of Isaiah "And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots..."). Two angels hold Mary's cloak under which nine worshipers are protected, four to her left and five to her right. Six figures are carved around Mary. Christ Child is in a mandorla on Mary's chest. Istrian stone, 247 x 205 cm.

How to get there (to see the scar). From the vaporetto stop at Ca' d'Oro take Calle Ca' d'Oro to Strada Nova, turn left on Strada Nova. Cross the first bridge (Ponte Novo S. Felice) and turn right immediately after the bridge on Fondamenta de la Chiesa which soon becomes Fondamenta San Felice. Go to the end of the fondamenta (about 200 meters); to your right you can admire the only bridge without parapet in Venice, Ponte Chiodo - there is another one on the island of Torcello; turn left on Ramo de la Misericordia, cross the bridge of the same name, and you will be on Fondamenta de la Misericordia. Take Fondamenta de la Misericordia to your right. Cross Ponte de l'Abazia to Campo de l'Abazia where you will see the Scuola Vecchia de la Misericordia. (Notice that for directions, I prefer to use the Venetian rather than the Italian spelling, thus the Italian "della" becomes the Venetian "de la"). If the scar above the main portal makes you sad, you can take consolation on the other two images of the Madonna della Misericordia nearby (#12, Tabernacle on Fondamenta della Misericordia, and #13 Corte Nova on Fondamenta de l'Abazia).

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