At night, perhaps, is this walk best, for several very popular wine shops for gondoliers are hereabouts, one or two quite large, with rows of barrels along the walls; and it is good to see every seat full, and an arm round many a waist, and everybody merry. Such a clatter of tongues as comes from these taverns is not to be beaten; and now and then a tenor voice or a mandolin adds a grace.
S. ROCCO AND TINTORETTO
The Scuola di S. Rocco—Defective lighting—A competition of artists—The life of the Virgin—A dramatic Annunciation—Ruskin’s analysis—S. Mary of Egypt—The upper hall—“The Last Supper”—“Moses striking the rock”—“The Crucifixion”—A masterpiece—Tintoretto’s career—Titian and Michel Angelo—A dramatist of the Bible—Realistic carvings—The life of S. Rocco—A humorist in wood—A model council chamber—A case of reliquaries—The church of S. Rocco—Giorgione or Titian?
There are Tintorettos everywhere in Venice, in addition to the immense canvases in the Doges’ Palace, but I imagine that were we able to ask the great man the question, Where would he choose to be judged? he would reply, “At the Scuola di S. Rocco,”—with perhaps a reservation in favour of “The Miracle of S. Mark” at the Accademia, and possibly the “Presentation” (for I feel he must have loved that work) at the Madonna dell’Orto, and “The Marriage in Cana,” that fascinating scene, in the Salute. In the superb building of the S. Rocco Scuola he reigns alone, and there his “Crucifixion” is.
The Scuola and the church, in white stone, hide behind the lofty red-brick apse of the Frari. The Scuola’s facade has, in particular, the confidence of a successful people. Within, it is magnificent too, while to its architectural glories it adds no fewer than six-and-fifty Tintorettos; many of which, however, can be only dimly seen, for the great Bartolommeo Bon, who designed the Scuola, forgot that pictures require light. Nor was he unique among Venice’s builders in this matter; they mostly either forgot it or allowed their jealousy of a sister art to influence them. “Light, more light,” is as much the cry of the groping enthusiast for painting in this fair city, as it was of the dying Goethe.
The story of Tintoretto’s connexion with the Scuola illustrates his decision and swiftness. The Scuola having been built, where, under the banner of S. Rocco, a philanthropical confraternity might meet to confer as to schemes of social amelioration, it was, in 1560, decided to invite the more prominent artists to make proposals as to its decoration. Tintoretto, then forty-two, Paul Veronese and Schiavone were among them. They were to meet in the Refectory and display their sketches; and on a given day all were there. Tintoretto stood aside while the others unfolded their designs, which were examined and criticized. Then came his turn, but instead of producing a roll