“This gallery may cause visual overload,” Dr. Beall warned us on the vaporetto ride to the Galleria dell’Academia. While the warning was lighthearted, by our visit’s end, I concluded that it was also true. Our tour began with Giovanni Bellini’s San Giobbe Altarpiece. We analyzed the piece, marveling at the rich colors and hyper-realism that Bellini employed. Moving through a couple of rooms exhibiting “appetizer” paintings, we were soon dwarfed by Veronese’s Feast at the House of Levi, a monumental painting that filled an entire wall. The painting’s scale absorbed so much of my attention that I hardly noticed Tintoretto’s Transport of the Body of Saint Mark, located to my left, or Titian’s sublime Pieta, located to my right. In the next room, a familiar face caught my eye. Upon further inspection, I discovered that it was a portrayal of Jesus at the house of Simon by Bernardo Strozzi. I immediately realized that the portrayal was familiar because Strozzi’s Calling of Saint Matthew, which depicted Christ in a similar style, is my favorite painting at the Worcester Art Museum. At around this time, I began to experience the forewarned visual overload. I saw Giorgione’s Tempest, Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna degli Alberetti, Gentile Bellini’s Procession in Piazza San Marco, and Carpaccio’s Miracle of the Cross at the Rialto, but I found my senses truly overwhelmed. The long break for lunch was a welcome opportunity to leave the gallery and give my eyes a rest. When we regrouped a couple of hours later, we walked to the Church of Santa Maria della Salute.
As the subject of lectures by Drs. Beall and Lazar and of an essay that I wrote for The Renaissance in Venice course, the majestic Santa Maria della Salute was my most highly anticipated visit in Venice. I was not disappointed. With its exterior decorative elements that screamed celebration for the departure of the plague, Santa Maria della Salute was splendidly Baroque. The sculpture and paintings located inside the church were some of Venice’s finest, most notably Josse de Corte’s High Altar, Titian’s Sacrifice of Isaac, and Tintoretto’s Marriage Feast at Cana.
Liberi’s personification of a defeated Venice in his Altar of Saint Anthony also captured my imagination, serving as an interesting contrast to the victorious personification of Venice in Veronese’s Triumph of Venice. We meandered over to the pointy tip of Dorsoduro for a spectacular 360° view of San Marco, the Grand Canal, and the islands of San Giorgio and Giudecca.
Then after a few quick stops on the vaporetto, we came to one of the most monumental palaces on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ Rezzonico, a neo-Classical behemoth, now home to the city’s Museum of Venice in the Eighteenth Century, which helped complete the sensory overload for the day.