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|Location||Venice, Italy map|
|Date||1560 to 1580 timeline|
|Construction System||bearing masonry|
|Context||urban island, waterfront|
|Discussion||San Giorgio Maggiore Commentary
Gloriously situated on the island of San Giorgio, San Giorgio Maggiore's gleaming white facade faces across the basin of San Marco to the great piazza. Built as part of the Benedictine monastery on the island, the church's facade is scaled to present a public face to the town of Venice. It dominates and partially obscures the brick body of the church behind it, while it reflects the interior space of the nave and its side chapels.
The central temple front is articulated with four three-quarter Composite columns raised on high pedestals, which frame the central door. In the back plane, the lower body of the church is articulated by a smaller order of pilasters, supporting two lower, half pediments on either side. The cornice line continues through the central body, interlocking the two forms. The deep relief of these elements, combined with the sculptural detail of capitals, cornices, niches and figures, makes a great play of light and dark in the sunlight.
The interior plan combines elements of longitudinal and centralized buildings, a resolution responding to the Renaissance "ideal" of the centralized plan and symbolic cross form and both the medieval tradition of nave churches and the requirements of the Counter-reformation for functional churches with ample naves for a large congregations as well as side chapels big enough for celebrating the sacraments.
The interior ceiling is a longitudinal barrel vault leading to a crossing, framed by grouped columns and arches, which support a dome lit with a lantern. Cross vaults above side aisles and a transept with apsidal chapels intersect the nave, and beyond the crossing is a presbytery and a monk's choir. Thermal, clerestory windows bring light to the side chapels and to the nave, and the interior glows with a warm light, reflected by the painted stucco surfaces (over brick) of the walls and vaults. In contrast, the architectural detail of cut stone columns and pilasters, capitals, bases, continuous entablatures, framed arches and railings, darkened with age, articulate the rhythmic sequence of spaces.
The dome has a diameter of 40 feet.
Sources on San Giorgio Maggiore
Robert Adam. Classical Architecture. London: Penguin Books, 1990. ISBN 0-670-82613-8. NA260.A26 1990. elevation drawing, fig d, p133.
Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8. LC 84-3543. NA2750.C55 1984. elevation drawing, p90. section drawing, p90. plan drawing, p90. Updated edition available at Amazon.com
James Stevens Curl. Classical Architecture: an introduction to its vocabulary and essentials, with a select glossary of terms. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992. ISBN 0-442-30896-5. NA260.C87. exterior photo of entry facade, f4.64, p102.
Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD .0218.
Peter Murray. Architecture of the Renaissance. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971. ISBN 8109-1000-4. LC 70-149850. NA510.M87. plan drawing, f457, p307.
Duane Siegrist, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.3236.1011.0837.043.
Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.3189.1011.1916.100, View toward Venice from Campanile. PCD.3189.1011.1916.099, View of nave. PCD.3189.1011.1916.098, View from Campanile of San Marco.
Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hymen. Architecture: From Prehistory to Post-Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986. photo of the interior, f519, p323. Available at Amazon.com
Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.
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