The Scuola Grande dei Carmini, located in the district of Dorsoduro, was the last of the scuole to be elevated to grand status in 1767.
The Scuola Grande dei Carmini, is located in the district of Dorsoduro. The entrance facade and porch are of Baroque style, face south and overlook the southwestern tip of Campo Santa Margherita, while the west facade is parallel to the left of the nave of the Carmini church and visible from Campo dei Carmini.
The proximity of the school to the conventual church is evident, which shows the close relationship between the Carmelite Fathers and the confraternity of the school.
The whiteness of the two their Istrian stone facades, contrasts with the black thick wrought iron balustrades; that secure the windows of the building.
This is the only scuola that has its origins in a lay congregation for women, known as the ‘Pizzocchere dei Carmini’. The sisters of the confraternity wore the scapular as a distinctive sign, which they made themselves and distributed to the devotees ,as an object of Marian devotion and protection. The scapular is made of two rectangular pieces of fabric with the images of the Blessed Virgin and Christ, held together by a small cord that hangs around the shoulders.
Initially, they had very basic premises, with only an altar in the Carmini church on the Campo dei Carmini and a room in the Convent of the Church of Carmini.
Dedicated to Santa Maria del Monte Carmelo, the scuola obtained official recognition by the Council of Ten in 1597, under Doge Pasquale Cicogna. It was the last of the scuole to be elevated to grand status in 1767.
In 1625, the Scuola started work on its own premises, designed by the architects Francesco Caustello and Baldassare Longhena. It was finally completed in 1636.
In 1807, the confraternity was suppressed by Napoleonic decree. Later, under Austrian control the Scuola was allowed to reopen.
The Scuola Grande dei Carmini is still active today. All the rooms of the school are intended for museum visits, as well as for religious and cultural events taking place in the chapel on the ground floor or in the chapter house on the first floor.
The original antique furnishings inside the halls of the school, have been entirely preserved and consists of oil paintings of great artistic value, rich stucco ceilings and original carved wood.
The paintings include nine ceiling canvases by Giambattista Tiepolo. They depict the cardinal and theological virtues and other attributes of the Spirit and refer to the Virgin Mary.
Cappella della Madonna del Carmelo. Inside the school on the ground floor, there is a large chapel of baroque style, with a single nave. The ceiling’s woodwork is especially remarkable.
The room is decorated with a series of grisaille (shades of grey) paintings by Niccolò Bambini. (Faith, Hope and Charity, The rest of the holy family in Egypt, The Assumption of the Virgin and The Circumcision of Jesus).
The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, protector of the brotherhood and the painting of the altarpiece by the Venetian painter Sante Piatti.
From this room, to the right of the stairs you can access the sacristy, a small room covered by a barrel vault and embellished by the original wooden seats.
ABOVE: The Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Altar: Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Sante Piatti
Hope. Part of a series of grisaille (shades of grey) paintings by Niccolò Bambini.
The Grand Staircase and the Corridor (below) with barrel vaults on a drawing of Baldassare Longhena, were made by his pupil Antonio Gaspari. The sculptures are the work of Alvise Bassi, positioned between 1728 and 1729. Three medallions in the last ramp show frescoes of the theological Virtues, by Sante Piatti, dating from 1733.
The Capitular or Chapter Room. It is the largest of the rooms, enriched in all its parts by the most precious works.
It is richly illuminated by the series of paintings on canvas on the ceiling by Giambattista Tiepolo; which were executed from 1739 to 1744.
As opposed to the atmosphere of the chapel below, this room is enveloped by a joyful light and a festive atmosphere. It is as if, through a continuous reference to virtue; the confreres are directed on a path of ascent, towards the vision of celestial reality.
The pictorial decoration of the ceiling includes nine compartments which have as their theme, the exaltation and glorification of the Scapular and also shows the “mariegola” (the confraternity’s book of rules).
Virtues and beatitudes are represented in the four corners of the room. On the side of the altar the cardinal virtues are depicted in groups: “Prudence, Temperance and Purity” – “Justice and the Fortress” – “Penance, Humility and Chastity” and “Faith, Hope and Charity”.
To make this pictorial cycle more precious, the stuccos executed in 1740 by Swiss decorator Abbondio Stazio, were, by of Tiepolo’s desires; coloured and gilded by Carpoforo Mazzetti.
On the side walls of the Chapter Room there are paintings by Zanchi , Gregorio Lazzarini and Amedeo Heinz. On the altar, stands a fine marble statue of the Virgin and Child sculpted by Bernardino of Lugano, in the second half of the 17th century.
Also noteworthy are the masterpieces of GB Piazzetta (Giuditta and Holofernes ) and Padovanino ( The Assumption of the Virgin ) in the Archive and Hotel Rooms.
Sala dell’Albergo. Named because of the welcome given to pilgrims and the poor. Nowadays, it is reserved for meetings of the Chancellery and members of Scuola. The wall coverings are carved walnut and the pavement is made of polychrome marbles.
The wooden ceiling was decorated by Francesco Lucchini and Alessandro Orlandi in 1740. In the centre, the ‘Assumption’ by Alessandro Varotari says the Padovanino (1588- 648). This oil on canvas work was originally in the chapter house and was moved to make room for Tiepolo’s paintings. All around the paintings of Giustino Menescardi, after a drawing by Gaetono Zompini.
The Archive Room. The Chapter Room leads to the Archive Room, which housed the School documents, which are now kept in the State Archive. The environment is very suggestive of eighteenth-century taste.
The floor is inlaid marble in a geometric pattern, on the walls in the lower register there are walnut wood panels, enriched by twelve human figure caryatids; probably the work of Giacomo Piazzetta. The rooms of the archive contain ceiling and wall paintings by Giustino Menescardi
In the passage between the Archive Room and the Hotel Room, there is a significant painting “Judithe and Holofernes” by Giovanni Battista, from 1745.
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