The monument in Carrara marble is one of the most typical Neo-classic artworks. It was erected by the disciples based on the design prepared by Canova in 1794 for Titian. The design was not used and was adapted for the monument dedicated to Maria Cristina of Austria which can be found in the church of the Agostiniani in Vienna. Canova died in Venice on October 13, 1822, and was taken to Possagno, his native village. Count Leopoldo Cicognara saw to it that the same model was used for this monument, which was erected in the beginning of May 1827. Three steps up is an admirable pyramid with an open door which leads to the presumed burial chamber. In front of the open door there are figures of women which portray the Weeping Sculpture, the Painting and the Architecture, followed by three genii with lit torches (art will never die!). On the left, at the base of the pyramid, the genius of Canova with his unlit torch and the desperate Lion (Venice). Above the door there are two angels who bear the effigy of the sculptor surrounded by a snake, symbol of immortality.
On the left wall of the Presbytery, surrounded by a fresco which resembles a red drape, there is the grand sepulchral monument of Doge Nicolò Tron. In terms of size, architectural structure, and number of statues it is the greatest Renaissance sculpture in Venice. This impressive work was mastered by Antonio Rizzo of Verona between 1476 and 1480. Along with the tall base and the end lunette, it is made up of four orders and is finished at the sides with slender columns with niches joined at the top by an elegant round arch. In the middle of the first order, there is the Doge wearing a golden mantle flanked by Faith on one side and Charity on the other. In the second order there is an epigraph with two children on either side who are holding a bunch of grapes and, at the ends, two well-sculpted warriors, holding shields with the Tron family insignia. In the third order there is the urn, adorned with medals and little statues, on which the Doge lies. On either side there is a statue, one singing and the other playing an instrument. In the fourth order, there are seven women who represent the Virtues. In the lunette, in the middle, there is Christ Resurrected, the Annunciation on either side and on the top of the arch with a lacunared intrados, the Eternal Father.
On the right wall of the Presbytery there is the monument to the Doge Francesco Foscari, one of the most important Doge of the Serenissima. His Dogeate of 34 years was mixed, with moments of glory as well as suffering. The monument was a transitional piece as it was sculpted in the mid-1400s and reveals the Florid Gothic style moderated by the Renaissance spirit. Four elegant corbels, adorned with foliage, support an urn on whose front are detailed the three theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, with St. Anthony and St. Mark on either side. Above the urn, in the shadow of the marble canopy opened by two warriors, lies the Doge assisted by the four cardinal virtues, Fortitude, Justice, Prudence and Temperance. Above the canopy, there is Christ Resurrected who takes the Doge’s soul, in the form of a tender child, up to Heaven. On the pillars on either side, which complete the monument, is the Annunciation. Even this monument is surrounded by frescoed decorations which imitate the sumptuous tapestry of the period.
The second monument is dedicated to Benedetto Pesaro and adorns the door to the sacristy. He was the Captain of the Venetian fleets and died in 1503 in Corfu. In his will he requested to be buried in the Frari Basilica. His wish was fulfilled and Lorenzo and Giambattista Bregno (16th century) erected this monument upon the commission of Gerolamo Pesaro. Four charming composite columns support the Renaissance monument. Between the columns there are two medal-shaped bas-reliefs depicting the Lion of Venice. On the extension of the two external columns there are the statues of Neptune and Mars which have always been attributed to Baccio from Montelupo, but, according to John Turner, they do not have the hallmark of this artist. Above the central columns there is the urn and the statue of the Captain, armed ready for battle with standard in hand. On the front of the urn are the fortresses of Leucade and Cefalonia, conquered by Pesaro, amid two sailing galleys. In the tympanum, there is the Virgin with the Child, the only religious motif.
The monument is the only important work of art in Venice which is entirely in golden and painted terracotta (1437). It was meant to be the funeral monument for Scipione Bon who had it built during his lifetime. Indeed, in the lower part, crowning the epigraph, are the three insignia of the Bon family. He was benefactor and procurator of the church and donated his sepulchre to the friars for the burial of Blessed Pacifico. Two corbels support a large Florid Gothic arch, embellished with numerous angels and musicians. Above is the painting of the Annunciation, attributed to Giovanni of France or to Zanino di Pietro, whereas at either side are the figures of St. Francis receiving the stigmata and St. Anthony of Padua and St. Ludovico of Anjou Bishop of Toulouse. In the intrados of the arch, there are seventy little lions, symbols of the Serenissima among the stars. Capping the monument is the statue of the Virgin. Whereas on the urn are the figures of the three theological Virtues and in the middle the descent of Christ into Limbo and the Resurrection. To the side are Justice and Temperance. In the lunette is the Baptism of Christ.
Jacopo Marcello was the commander of the Venetian fleet, killed on March 31, 1488, while leading the troops in the conquering of Gallipoli. A marble oval surrounds the monument and renders it pleasing to the eye. In the centre, in Istrian stone on a ‘pavonazzetto’ background, stands an extremely elaborate foliaged urn supported by three small deformed hunchbacks standing on Lombardesque corbels. Between the corbels there are two eagles framed by foliaged swags. Above the urn stands the Fleet Commander, Jacopo Marcello, with a lance in his right hand and his left hand on his hip. He is wearing plated armour and stands between two pages who are holding Marcello’s shield which can also be seen between the three hunchbacks. The monument was attributed to Pietro Lombardo but recent studies claim it was the work of Giovanni Buora (1450-1513). Up above, the background to the monument is frescoed in Mantegnesque style. The fresco portrays the Triumph of the Hero (15th century). On high there is a banner with the name of Jesus in the middle and the coat of arms of Marcello on either side. On the left are the trophies and coats of arms. This gives a magnificent effect to the wall in that the hero is celebrated rather than mourned. Along the entire wall and beneath the monuments is an elegant wainscoting dating to the 16th century divided into 18 parts by small Doric columns with foliaged frieze and triglyphs.
This colossal Baroque monument dedicated to Giovanni Pesaro, who was Doge between 1658 and 1659, was erected in 1669 based on the design of Baldassarre Longhena (1598-1682). Above the ornate red and black marble pedestals with sculptured lion heads connected by swags, there are four gigantic Moors, with naked arms and feet and torn clothes, bearing the entablature, adorned with metopes and triglyphs, on their shoulders. In their midst, as if they were in niches, there are two black skeletons which hold a long inscription etched in gold letters on white marble. Above the entablature, four black marble columns support a grandiose red marble canopy which replicates a drape with brocade strips. On the throne held by monsters the Doge addresses the crowd, radiant and full of life, seated between the allegories of Religion, Valour, Concord and Justice. At his feet, above the architrave from left to right, a genius is drawing his bow, two women are offering crowns while another is reading a book. On the second entablature up on high six charming putti bear the architrave. In the middle, two children display the coat of arms of the Pesaro family. The characteristic inscription reads: «Vixit Annos LXX (he lived for 70 years) – Devixit Anno MDCLIX (he died in the year 1659) – Hic revixit Anno MDCLXIX (here, he comes to life again in the year 1669)».
The chapter house is so-called because it was used for the meetings of the friars. Following the in-depth restoration in the 20th century, out of all the monuments once located here only one is left, the monument dedicated to the Doge Francesco Dandolo (1329-1339). He is laid to rest in a Byzantine style urn which was once entirely covered in gold. On the front there is the Death of the Virgin surrounded by the apostles. In the centre of the sculpture is the Redeemer who is carrying Mary’s soul up to Heaven in the form of a child in swaddling bands while on the sides of the monument the anonymous artist portrays two angels and the symbols of the Evangelists, St. Mark and St. John.
The present baroque altar was erected to adorn the marble tabernacle (now on the left of the iron door which opens into the Basilica) which contained the ampulla with the Precious Blood of Christ. In a crystal vase there is a small amount of balm which was mixed with a few drops of Christ’s blood collected by Mary Magdalene. The relic, which was highly worshipped in St. Christine’s Church in Constantinople, came into the possession of Melchiorre Trevisan, Fleet commander, in 1479. Upon returning from the Orient he donated it to the Frari church (19th March 1480). It was commissioned by F. Antonio Pittoni of the Frari Convent and, as can be read in the inscription on the black marble at the base of the altar, was completed in 1711. The three bas-reliefs are in Carrara marble, carved by the Venetian Francesco Penso alias Cabianca (circa 1665-1737). The dramatic and animated postures of the characters, which crowd the scene of the Crucifixion, are remarkable: Christ, at the centre of the scene is flanked by two thieves, one of whom is bent over having died on the cross. The scene of the horse, in the foreground, grabs the observer’s attention as the frightened horse’s frolics throw the Roman soldier off balance. The Madonna, who has fainted, is held up by one of the pious women, while another mourns Christ. In the scene of the Deposition the distraught group of people is wider at the base of the sculpture and pinnacles at the top with the man who is clambering up the ladder in order to lower the lifelessbody of Christ using a sheet. In the scene of the Entombment, whiletwo men are moving the marble slab which stands over the tomb, another couple of men lay Christ to rest on a sheet. The Mother mourns her dead Son. Six angels surround the scene, located at the centre and in the corners. At the top of the golden canopy an angel holds the sudarium with the outline of the face of Christ, while two angels, on either side, hold the pendant lamps. These wooden statues are the work of the great sculptor from Belluno, Andrea Brustolon (1662-1732).
The stunning altar-piece (6.68 x 3.44 metres), started in 1516 and formed by 21 horizontal lines, was positioned in the marble frame on 19th May 1518.
The painting is made of three levels: at the bottom there are the apostles, stunned and agitated for the incredible event. In the middle, the Madonna, extremely light, embedded in the light and surrounded y a crowd of angels. At the top, the Father who, in a pose of serene and majestic dignity, attracts the gaze of the Virgin.
The geometry of the painting, marked by the triangle of red colours, lead us to look up, towards the top; the light, on the contrary, consists of life, love, joy which fall from above. It emanates bright from the Father, runs through the Virgin and the angels in a golden aura; eventually, it becomes the blue of the sky. At the bottom, in the middle of the painting, we can find Titian’s signature: Ticianus (in Latin).
This is a groundwork work of the young artist; it is, in fact, his final … – so much so that it has become his most famous image.
Nel 1817 the altar-piece was transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts.
On 1917, during the First World War, the painting was transported to Cremona. After the battle of Caporetto, it was transferred to Pisa where it remained for 2 years. Finally on December 14, 1919, the famous altarpiece returned to Venice.
The painting was transferred again during the Second World War. First it was moved to Strà and then to Ca’ Rezzonico. On August 13, 1945 it was finally put back in its original place. From that day the Assumption has continued to shine from its frame, an icon of art and faith.