From Venice to the V&A

Scuola Vecchia de la Misericordia, Venice
There is a large and ugly area of plaster in the centre of the brick façade of the Scuola Vecchia de la Misericordia, which is situated in the sestiere of Cannaregio.

Until it was removed and sold, the building boasted one of the most beautiful bas-reliefs by the great Venetian sculptor, Bartolomeo Buon (1395-1471), who was also a member of the scuola. 
Bas-relief of the Madonna della Misericordia by Bartolomeo Buon, c. 1445-50, Scuola Vecchia de la Misericordia, Venice
The relief can now be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

In addition to members of the scuola, who shelter under the Virgin’s cloak, the relief depicts the Tree of Jesse. In its branches sit prophets holding scrolls which announce the Coming of Christ, who is shown as a baby in a mandorla on the Virgin’s breast. A mandorla (from the Italian word for almond) was a type of halo which enclosed the entire body and was normally used to depict moments that transcend time and space. Here it also acts as a morse (brooch), clasping together the Virgin’s mantle.


  1. You have just contributed have just contributed another nugget to my treasure chest of information about Venice. Thank you!


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