The Chapel of St. John the Almsgiver

Author: Unknown
Century: 15th
Church: Church of San Giovanni Battista in Bragora

The chapel was built in 1481 to house the relic of St. John the Almsgiver. The original decoration that remains today includes the pediment of the urn with the relief image of the saint, placed on the left wall of the chapel, and the Blessing Christ by Alvise Vivarini.

The original 15th-century decoration was rich and elaborate, the result of collaboration among multiple artists. It originally consisted of an altar with an urn and a relief sculpture of the saint in gilded and polychromed wood, works respectively by Alessandro da Caravaggio and Leonardo Tedesco. Above the monument was the small panel painting by Alvise Vivarini depicting the Blessing Christ.

The decoration was completed in 1501 with the benches for the faithful by Alessandro da Caravaggio. In 1616, the chapel became the headquarters of the School dedicated to St. John the Almsgiver. It can be reasonably assumed that the late 15th-century decoration remained intact until 1743, when a radical restoration took place, commissioned by Giorno Massari (1686-1766), a parishioner and influential member of the School of the Holy Sacrament. In particular, the altar was reconstructed by Anzolo Stae using colored marbles that support the urn decorated with Rococo motifs and topped with a garland of flowers and cherubs that indicate the example of the saint depicted in the altarpiece.

The centerpiece of the complex decorative ensemble is the altarpiece by Jacopo Marieschi (1711-1794), depicting St. John the Almsgiver dispensing alms, one of the most significant works by the painter, characterized by intense and rich chromaticism. In the same period, the painter also created the large lunette depicting the Translation of the Body.