My parents used to tell me that true beauty comes from within, so I should never judge people by how they look on the outside. Suddenly these words came back to me when my father showed me more of Venice’s treasured art—this time, in churches.
If I had stayed outside, I wouldn’t have seen how Venice’s artists are using oil paints, light, and color to bring their paintings to life—truly a Renaissance in art! Now I understand why my father keeps talking about these men, some still living—Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Giorgione, and Giovanni Bellini.
Inside San Rocco church, Tintoretto used light and shadows in his dramatic paintings, San Rocco Healing Plague Victims and San Rocco in Prison Visited by an Angel.
The church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo displays several of Veronese’s paintings, including his Adoration of the Magi, as well as Lotto’s Alms of St. Anthony, Tintoretto’s dramatic Crucifixion, and paintings by Bellini and Titian. These are just a few of the magical recent paintings housed in this city’s churches.
Venice’s Renaissance is very much alive to everyone who knows where to look and has the chance to visit. I’m so glad I’m one of those fortunate people!
“Have you heard about an illustrious young lady in Venice, not much older than you? Nobles and emperors compete to sit before her. Shall I tell you more?” My father had just delivered glum news about my prospects for a university education, and I knew he wanted to cheer me up.
One of Venice’s great painters, Jacopo Tintoretto, had a favorite daughter he called Marietta. (People also called her “la Tintoretta,” because her grandfather was a fabric dyer.) By dressing as a boy, she could stay with her father and learn at his side.
Marietta must have learned well, because Emperor Maximilian and Spain’s King Philip II requested her as a painter at their courts. But Marietta’s father didn’t let her leave Venice, so she’s still in our city, busy painting portraits for the nobles.
I enjoyed hearing about a successful Venetian woman, and I’m glad Marietta is getting the attention she deserves. But Papa’s not an artist, and I can’t hope someday to become a respected physician like he is—so I’m still searching for my place in the world.
On December 8th of every year I lived in Verona, I went to Mass and ate a special dinner to celebrate the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
But here in Venice, devotion to Jesus’ mother lasts all year long! When I go outside, I see shrines to Mary in the corners of walkways, with votive lamps the neighbors keep burning in her honor. In every house, I see her picture. Venice’s top artists, Titian and Tintoretto, both painted portraits of the angel announcing to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. (For some strange reason, the scenery in those paintings looks just like Venice!) And in “Mary’s church,” Santa Maria Gloriosa, eight altars are dedicated to her.
So I wasn’t surprised today was a grand holiday in Venice, with feasts, concerts, and extra masses. But when church bells rang for the prayer, “Hail Mary,” I was shocked to watch sophisticated Venetians in elegant dress fall to their knees to honor Jesus’ mother, wherever they happened to be. How Venice Loves Mary!