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Home arrow churches arrow chorus churches arrow Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari Print E-mail

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After the Basilica of St. Mark's, the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is the most remarkable ecclesiastical complex in Venice, as well as being one of the most important Franciscan foundations in Italy. Originally built between 1236 and 1338 by the Franciscan Conventual Friars, the structure was thoroughly re-modelled in the 14th century and given its present more grandiose form of central nave, two side aisles and seven apsidal chapels after Franciscan-Gothic designs. Over the centuries the basilica has become a veritable treasure-chest of exceptional works of art.

 

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Any discussion of the main works of art within the church has, of course, to start with what is perhaps the most famous masterpiece of Titian's early maturity: the powerful altarpiece depicting The Assumption of the Virgin. Painted for its present site between 1516 and 1518, this work represents a key moment in the history of Venetian art. One should also mention Titian's famous Pesaro Altarpiece (1526), and Giovanni Bellini's Triptych with Virgin and Saints (1488) in the Pesaro Chapel in the Sacristy. One of the masterpieces of 15th-century Venetian painting, this latter work invites comparison with a near contemporary that now hangs in the elegant Corner Chapel: Bartolomeo Vivarini's St. Mark's Triptych (1474).

  

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The Basilica also contains the one Venetian work by Donatello: his magnificent wooden statue of St. John the Baptist. Sculpture plays an important part in the church; both in the fine wooden choirstalls and in the numerous tombs which make the Frari something of a Pantheon of Venetian notables. The veritable masterpieces here include the Tron and Foscari Monuments in the presbytery and Alessandro Vittoria's statue of St. Jerome on the Zane altar.

 
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