Scuola Grande di San Rocco
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In 1478, the Consiglio dei Dieci (Council of Ten), a body delegated by the Serenissima Republic to acknowledge and regulate confraternities in Venice, gave its consent to establish the Scuola di San Rocco.
Initially, the association had no permanent seat: over the decades, it moved from the church of San Giuliano to the church of San Silvestro, until it settled near the church of Frati Minori (Frari), which, as often occurred in those times, did not look favourably upon the settlement of such pro-religious confraternities because of their success.
Several years later in 1485, the Scuola even gained possession of the relic of Saint Mark. At this point, it became essential to find suitable premises, due to the importance of this guarded treasure, which would host the thousands of people who crowded the Scuola every year.
With this in mind, in the early decades of the 16th century, Bartolomeo Bon was entrusted with building the new premises. Growing and continuous disagreements with the commissioners of the Scuola, forced Bon to leave the position: this was in 1524, and the Lombardo brothers (Sante and Giulio) were summoned instead. When they took over, the ground floor of the building was probably completed and its basic structure already laid out. Unfortunately, these new appointees did not encounter the ideal conditions for completing this work and the task was finally entrusted to Scarpagnino in 1527.
He was responsible for completing the façade facing the square and for building the connecting interior stairs. The building was generally completed mid-century (1549), the year the architect died.
Once the "building" stage was concluded, the more strictly artistic one remained: the extensive interior walls of the Scuola had to be adorned. This goal was achieved by means of a contest: Veronese, Salviati and Tintoretto, among others, were invited to present their ideas.
The latter, now personally associated with the artistic work of the Scuole, donated a canvas portraying the glory of San Rocco. The contest ended at this point, that is, it never even started. Tintoretto was commissioned to undertake the entire cycle of works, completing many of his greatest masterpieces and creating a cycle of works that established him among leading Venetian and international artists.
In the early 19th century, the Scuola was temporarily closed, along with others: this suppression was short-lived owing to urgent requests from the Venetian inhabitants for it to re-open. Thanks to the inhabitants and the affection they have always shown the Scuola, most of these works are still in the building and have not been removed.