Our Guided Tours at the Frari Church: “St. Mark Enthroned” by Vivarini

The late gothic style of Bartolomeo Vivarini... The Frari Church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mary, is considered the most beautiful church in Venice after St. Mark’s Basilica. It is a jewel casket in gothic style, rich with painted and sculpted masterpieces that range from the Byzantine-Gothic style to the Neoclassical.

The Frari Church (outside)
There are so many works of art in this place… let us today describe one of them in particular: Bartolomeo Vivarini’s triptych, representing St. Mark Enthroned with Saints.

Bartolomeo Vivarini’s Triptych
This painting is located in the Corner Chapel, which was built in 1420 by will of Federico Corner in memory of his brother Marco.

The Corner Chapel
It was painted on wooden panels, and it dates back to 1474. It represents the patron Saint of Venice in the center, with two couples of saints at the sides: St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome on the left, St. Peter and St. Nicholas on the right.
What immediately impresses the viewer is the glow of the gold leaf that decorates the wooden frame. Gold, here, is an element of continuity among the three panels of the painting, which would be a typical characteristic of the gothic painting of that period. This suggests that Bartolomeo was not yet ready (and actually he would never be) to accept the new artistic language of the Renaissance, which had instead Giovanni Bellini as one of its most relevant representatives.

The central part of the triptych
On the panel on the right hand side, John the Baptist points out to Mark, whereas Jerome stands still holding the model of a church, which could even be a model of the Frari Church itself!
On the left, St. Nicholas from Myra is dressed as a bishop, and old St. Peter is concentrated in reading a book. We would like to underline that St. Nicholas in particular has always been quite a popular and beloved Saint in Venice, and his relics have long been disputed by the Venetians with the citizens of Bari.

The panel on the left

The panel on the right

Although the scene is divided into three parts, Bartolomeo Vivarini succeeded in creating some sort of a spacial unity between the environment and the figures.
The characters are painted in a very defined way, the colors of their clothes seem to have been chosen as to create a fil rouge among them. The colors reveal the influence of the chromatic experience of the Murano glass… and Bartolomeo was in fact born in Murano!
There are so many other details we would like to add…we will be waiting for you in Venice to unveil all of them during a guided tour at the Frari Church! Ciao!

You might be also interested in the following itineraries and postblogs: 

The Frari church and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. (section: Classical tours

From gothic to renaissance. (section: Unusual tours

Our guided tours at the Accademia Galleries of Venice: the primitives. (section: Blog

Our guided and private tours of Venice  (section: Blog)