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Church San Sebastiano

Churches in Venice - Dorsoduro

Church San Sebastiano VeniceIts contents make the Church of San Sebastiano one of the very centres of Venetian art, conserving as it does, an extraordinary body of works by Paolo Caliari, better known as Veronese.
The confraternity of Gerolimine fathers founded the church in the 15th century, and then in 1506 a series of alterations gave the building its present appearance: a single-nave interior preceded by an atrium and raised choir and culminating in an apsidal presbytery under a cupola.
But, as mentioned, what counts here is not so much the architecture as the cycle of paintings by Paolo Veronese; undoubtedly the most important single complex of paintings that he completed in his entire life.

The artist was commissioned by the Veronese prior of the order, Brother Bernardo Torlioni, who also devised the iconographycal scheme for the whole cycle, which was intended to represent the victory of faith over heresy. Veronese's work in the church can be divided into three periods, the first ran from 1555 to 1556, and began with the series of old testament paintings in the sacristy, concluding with the panels depicting episodes from the Book of Esther which decorate the coffered roof.
The second phase of work ran from 1558 to 1559 and included the frescoes on the upper part of the nave (fathers of the church, prophets, civil and biblical figures), the decoration of the friar choir (episodes from the life of St. Sebastian) and the organ doors and frontal (Presentation of Jesus in the temple, The Washing of Sacrificial Animals in the Temple and The Nativity).
The final period of work ran from 1565 to 1570 and included the large altarpiece Madonna in Glory with St. Sebastian and other Saints, and two other paintings on the side walls of the presbytery: Saints Mark and Marcellino led to their martyrdom and the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian.

Church San Sebastiano VeniceFittingly enough, the church is also the artist mausoleum, and his tomb can be seen to the left of the presbytery. In the sacristy there are other works worthy of note, including pieces by Jacopo Tintoretto and Bonifacio de' Pitati; whilst in the church you can see Titian's St. Nicolas (1563) and other works by Paris Bordone, Jacopo Sansovino, Palma il Giovane and Alessandro Vittoria.

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