“Et de presente habita ser vetor scarpaza depentor”:
new documents on Carpaccio’s house
and workshop at San Maurizio1
Fig. 1 / Vittore Carpaccio,
Miracle of the Cross at the
Ponte di Rialto (detail), ca.
1494-1496, tempera on
canvas, 371 x 392 cm, Venice,
Gallerie dell'Accademia.
On 16 March 1526, Giacomo Corner1 won a lawsuit
brought by Giovanni Pin over the construction of a
wall that, according to the latter, would devalue his
casa da stazio (family seat) as it deprived it of the sight
of, and access to, the Grand Canal.2 The verdict
put to an end a forty-year quarrel over a plot of
land adjoining Ca’ Corner della Ca’ Granda in the
parish of San Maurizio.3 Vittore Carpaccio found
himself caught in the middle of this litigation, as new
documents reveal that he had been living in Pin’s
casa da stazio since at least 1513. The documents in
question shed light on the location and immediate
surroundings of Carpaccio’s house and workshop,
and provide unexpected insight into the financial
and social status that the painter had achieved in his
later years. Before these documents are considered,
it is necessary to outline the chain of events that
culminated in the lawsuit, and introduce the actors
involved in it.
The earliest document on Francesco dates back to 1475
and marks his membership at the Scuola Grande di
San Giovanni Evangelista, one of the most important
lay confraternities of the time.8 As proudly recorded by
Marin Sanudo, it was in fact the only scuola that could
boast of owning “a miraculous cross… which performs
and has performed many miracles” in Venice.9 In
accordance with his social status and considerable means,
Francesco was elected Guardian Grande twice (1490 and
1495);10 he also played a key role in the construction and
decoration projects carried out by the Scuola at the turn
of the century.11 As Carpaccio delivered his Miracle of the
Cross at the Ponte di Rialto in 1494, or at the latest in 1496,12
it is possible that Francesco and Vittore Carpaccio might
have become acquainted at this stage (fig. 1). It is however
certain that Carpaccio was living in Pin’s estate in San
Maurizio about twenty years later, though by that time
his landlord was Giovanni Pin, son of Francesco who had
passed away in 1502.13
Very little is known about the Pin family, whose origins
remain obscure.4 Giovanni Pin’s father, Francesco di
Guglielmo, was a native-born Venetian citizen (cittadino
originario) who lived in the parish of Santa Lucia, in
the sestiere of Cannaregio.5 From his testament (26
April 1484) it appears that Francesco was comfortably
well-off: he owned a casa da stazio in Santa Lucia,
an altar and a family vault in his parish church,
some case da serzenti (houses to rent)6 in the sestiere
of Castello, two slaves, one boat and fifteen farmed
fields in Schiavonia, a hamlet near Este.7 In addition,
Francesco managed his wife Ginevra’s estate in the
parish of San Maurizio, to which we shall soon return.
On 15 August 1479 Francesco Pin, acting as agent of his
wife Ginevra, came into possession of a property worth
2,000 ducats in San Maurizio.14 At that time, it included a
large casa da stazio with a courtyard, a well, a vacant plot of
land, and a two-storey casa da serzenti with a dovecote, all
situated next to the Malombra Palace on the Grand Canal
(fig. 2). Five months later, on 7 January 1480, the wealthy
patrician and procurator of San Marco Giorgio Corner
(brother of Caterina, the Queen of Cyprus), acquired the
Malombra Palace for 20,000 ducats and became Pin’s
new neighbour.15 From that moment on the two families
often put obstacles in each other’s path as they were trying
to acquire land and consolidate their estates.


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