Churches of Venice: St Mark's Basilica–A Glittering Symbol with Dr. Susan Steer

Churches of Venice: St Mark's Basilica–A Glittering Symbol with Dr. Susan Steer


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Encrusted in marble and glittering golden mosaics, St Mark’s Basilica was central to the myth-making and symbolism of the Venetian Republic. Join Dr. Susan Steer to explore the art, architecture, and symbolism of one of Europe’s most spectacular and significant medieval monuments.
Testimony to Venetian wealth and symbol of Venice’s power and glory, the official church of State and reputedly shrine of St Mark the Evangelist, St Mark’s is the oldest and greatest monument of central Venice. Legend has it that in the year 828, the body of St Mark was smuggled out of Egypt and brought to Venice, in fulfillment of an angelic prophesy to St Mark himself. What can be said with certainty, is that the first church of St Mark’s was constructed on this site in the ninth century and that the acquisition of the presumed relics of St Mark represents an affirmation of Venetian ambition and Venice's desire to be protected by one of the most prestigious of holy defenders. 

The present church was built in the late eleventh century, in a style that pays homage to precedents in Constantinople. However, when the basilica was enlarged in the 13thC, it was encrusted with marbles and statuary, including the famous bronze horses, which the Venetians had ripped and looted from that great imperial city - thus St Mark’s now proclaimed Venice as a major force politically and economically. Throughout the basilica, golden mosaics illustrate the legends which associate Venice with St Mark, as well as the Christian scheme for salvation, with the careful and ingenious placement of subjects to form a coherent and layered program. Whereas the earliest mosaics were designed and executed by artists whose identities are lost to history, in later periods it is known that mosaics were designed by renowned artists like Andrea del Castagno and Tintoretto.
Finally, the dazzling focal point: on special occasions, the high altar is embellished with the Pala d’Oro, a glittering, golden altarpiece comprising exquisite cloisonné enamels, and mounted with over 1,900 gemstones, one of the most impressive works of European art of the middle ages, yet still relatively little known outside of Italy.
Led by Dr. Susan Steer, an expert on Venetian medieval and Renaissance art, this interactive seminar explores the history, art, architecture, and symbolism of St Mark’s basilica. Participants will come away with greater knowledge and understanding of the meaning and contexts of one of Europe’s greatest medieval monuments and also learn about parts of the basilica which are not accessible to the general public.
Please Note: This seminar is envisaged as part of a series to explore Venetian churches but can be enjoyed on its own or as part of the series:
 

Susan Steer PhD is an art historian specializing in Medieval and Renaissance Venice. Susan has an extensive teaching background, lecturing on Italian art for universities in the UK and in Italy. She has also worked as a paintings researcher at museums in the UK, and has published on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art in leading specialist journals. She has lived in Venice for over 20 years.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
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(6)
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G
G.L. (Jersey City, US)
Amazing

I have been to Venice a number of times but have only visited the basilica on two occasions.....both times to attend mass. I have never actually done a proper tour so this was amazing and delightful. Will definitely do a tour next visit.....hopefully with Context!

G
G.S. (Mattapoisett, US)
Exceptional seminar

Dr. Steer is very knowledgeable and articulate. She has a good grasp of scripture which makes looking at the paintings, etc. more meaningful.

S
Susan McG (Brooklyn, US)
San Marco

Such a wonderful visit. Dr. Steer is so knowledgable and warm - I learned so much!

N
Nancy (Victoria, CA)

It was great to see such a beautiful place with an incredibly knowledgeable expert.

L
Lisa A Dimberg (Evanston, US)
Lisa Dimberg St. Mark's Basilica Review

Dr. Steer gave a wonderful presentation on the history of St. Mark's and all of the beautiful interior and exterior elements! Her descriptions and her photos and videos are all magnificent!

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
100%
(6)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
G
G.L. (Jersey City, US)
Amazing

I have been to Venice a number of times but have only visited the basilica on two occasions.....both times to attend mass. I have never actually done a proper tour so this was amazing and delightful. Will definitely do a tour next visit.....hopefully with Context!

G
G.S. (Mattapoisett, US)
Exceptional seminar

Dr. Steer is very knowledgeable and articulate. She has a good grasp of scripture which makes looking at the paintings, etc. more meaningful.

S
Susan McG (Brooklyn, US)
San Marco

Such a wonderful visit. Dr. Steer is so knowledgable and warm - I learned so much!

N
Nancy (Victoria, CA)

It was great to see such a beautiful place with an incredibly knowledgeable expert.

L
Lisa A Dimberg (Evanston, US)
Lisa Dimberg St. Mark's Basilica Review

Dr. Steer gave a wonderful presentation on the history of St. Mark's and all of the beautiful interior and exterior elements! Her descriptions and her photos and videos are all magnificent!