Starting in the fourteenth century, in Venice a number of Scuole or Schools arose, whose purpose was to serve as meeting place for charitable lay confraternites. These Schools had an important role in the social and economic life of the city and had the means to build splendid buildings for their meetings, designed by the foremost architects of the time and decorated by the more fashionable artists.
The monumental complex of the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista is the final result of centuries of architectural and decorative interventions on the original building erected towards the mid-fourteenth century, which gradually expanded the complex, as the School grew in wealth and religious importance.
In 1498 Mauro Codussi from Bergamo designed the two-stairway monumental staircase, accessed through two large Renaissance arches.
The lack of space due to the closeness to rio di San Giovanni was skillfully managed by Codussi. The perspectival lines of the flights create the illusion of greater depth. Other elements reinforce this illusion: the two areas covered by blind domes at the start of the flights, the landings that interrupt the flights, the side windows that accompany the ascent and the small arches on hanging capitals that segment the tunnel vaulted ceiling. At the top of the two flights Codussi managed to create a refined anteroom for the main hall by widening the narrow space available and covering it with a small, elegant, blind dome, which rests on a niello or decorated drum, and opening four big arches embellished with Renaissance decorative elements; two at the beginning of the stairs, one serving as entry to the hall and one crowning a large double window with round arches and central eye – an authentic ‘trademark’ of Codussi’s buildings.
The Staircase is in precarious static condition and requires structural and restoration work.
Venetian Heritage has decided to adopt this important restoration project, which will be carried out in steps to avoid closing off the building to the public. The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice proudly supports Venetian Heritage for this restoration project.