The Scuola di San Marco with the Loggia Erected for the Benediction of Pope Pius VI, May 19, 1782
Francesco Guardi, Italian, The Scuola di San Marco with the Loggia Erected for the Benediction of Pope Pius VI, May 19, 1782, ca. 1782, Oil on canvas; 38.7 x 32.4 cm (15 1/4 x 12 3/4 inches), Gift of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth 53.115
In 1782 Venice celebrated the first visit of a pope in six centuries by planning a series of ecclesiastical ceremonies. The culminating event, a papal benediction, took place on elaborate terraces (loggia) constructed for this purpose on the Scuola di San Marco, one of Venice’s most important guild halls. To commemorate the visit, the artist Francesco Guardi was commissioned to record the major activities in a series of large paintings. He also created smaller versions, including this one, which shows the site of the benediction with only a suggestion of the many participants who had filled the piazza. Records show that Guardi arrived after the event, but he recreated the scene by preparing numerous detailed drawings and most likely sought eyewitness accounts. He faithfully represented the double staircase leading up to the loggia and the elaborate sculptural decoration of the guild hall’s façade. The scene is animated by the fluidity of his brushwork and by the artist’s attention to atmosphere, shadow, and reflected light.