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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

The Most Serene Republic: The Splendors of Venice

All-Day Weekend Program

Full Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, December 12, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0066
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Basilica of San Marco in Venice, Italy


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

Venice was the longest-lasting republic in history. The city’s privileged position as a cultural and economic bridge between the eastern and western Christian world contributes to its uniqueness. The art and architecture of Venice clearly display this combination of Islamic, Byzantine, and classical influences. Artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and Tintoretto made Venetian painting perhaps the only school to rival that of the Central Italian Renaissance.

Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, examines the architecture and art of Venice, as well as its history as perhaps the most singular city in the world.

10–11 a.m.  The Basilica of St. Mark and the Doge’s Palace

The Basilica of San Mark was originally constructed in the 9th century to house the mortal remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, which had been “saved” from the Muslim city of Alexandria in 829. The style of the church is the perfect marriage of eastern and western Christian architecture, showcasing the world’s most extensive and beautiful program of mosaic decoration. The Doge’s Palace was the seat of the great republic’s political power and the residence of the rulers of Venice.

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.   Carpaccio, Bellini, and the Great Confraternities of Venice

Venetian scuole, or schools, were confraternities whose members performed charitable acts in order to help redeem their own souls. In addition, the schools became a kind of para-political institution that allowed its members to express social rank and wealth at a time when obtaining positions in Venetian government was restrictive. The organizations often invested extraordinary amounts of money to decorate their private buildings, for which they commissioned the greatest artists of the time.

12:15–1:15 p.m.  Break

1:152:30 p.m.  Titian, Giorgione, and the Treasures of the Accademia Gallery

The Galleria dell’Accademia houses the largest and most impressive collection of Venetian paintings in the world. Founded in 1750, the gallery occupies three buildings that were originally a church, monastery and scuola. Among the museum’s most treasured works are the Tempest by Giorgione, the Miracle of the Slave by Tintoretto, the Feast in the House of Levi by Veronese, and a Pietà that was Titian’s last work.

2:454 p.m. Tintoretto and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

The Scuola di San Rocco is often described as the Sistine Chapel of Venice because of its magnificent ceiling paintings produced by the great Venetian painter Tintoretto. It is the only still active scuola in the city and continues to represent one of Venice's most important religious and social traditions.

Ruggiero, who divides his time between Italy and the United States, has lectured on Italian art and architecture for American university programs in Italy for the past 20 years, including those of Syracuse, Kent State, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.