The Scuola Grande della Carita, founded in 1260 and the first of the Great Schools of Venice; now forms part of the Galleria dell ‘Accademia.
History. The Scuola Grande della Carita, founded in 1260 and the first of the Great Schools of Venice; now forms part of the Galleria dell ‘Accademia. In 1260, the School of Saint Maria of della Carita (Charity), the first Scuola Grande; was founded in the church of San Leonardo. At first, the school rented rooms from the monastery of Santa Maria della Carita close by.
Over time, the money from donations and its commercial activities, was used to buy land and buildings from them. In 1343, it had two meeting rooms, one above the other and this may have been the original model for all later scuole buildings; a lower meeting room (androne) and an upper meeting room (sala).
In the mid-15th century, an extension was added here as an albergo, for the meeting of the banca. This building’s facade can be seen in the background of Canaletto’s Stonemason’s Yard; long before the first Accademia bridge was erected in front of it.
Later in 1534, Titian was commissioned to paint a “Presentation of the Virgin” on one wall of the Sala dell’Albergo. From this room the banca distributed alms and choose young women to receive dowry contributions.
The only additions after 1560, were in the mid-18th century; when Giorgio Massari changed the facade and Barbardino Maccaruzzi designed the curved double staircase.
In 1806, the Napoleonic administration disbanded many institutions in Venice, including scuole, some churches and convents. Work began in 1811, headed by Giannantonio Selva, to transform the scuola, the adjacent church and convent buildings; into the Galleria dell’Accademia, that finally opened in 1817. The gallery contains many works from the suppressed and demolished churches in Venice.
Remnants of the Scuola integrated into the Accademia Gallery
The gallery is entered through what was the scuola entrance. The original carved panel over the main doorway, the “Coronation of the Virgin by Bon and the statue group on the roof; are both long gone. The panel is now in the Salute and the statue is to be found in the Giardini Pubblici
The first room at the top of the staircase as you enter the galleries, is the former chapter house. It has a gilded ceiling, attributed to Marco Cozzi and is one of the two rooms where the original features of the scuola, can be seen.
The other is the albergo, which is adjacent to the chapter house, but now comes at the end of the gallery circuit. It has surviving benches and a 15th-century ceiling, along with Titian’s very architectural “Presentation of the Virgin“, in its original position but rather surprisingly shaped around two doors.
LEFT: The old postcard shows the buildings before the Academy Vaporetto stop was built and note also the original iron bridge.
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