CF STUDIES JOURNAL 06 - Page 15



12
“Et de presente habita ser vetor scarpaza depentor”: new documents on Carpaccio’s house and workshop at San Maurizio
As discussed above, on 21 September 1513, Giovanni
Pin was granted five months to recover the 1,331 ducats
he owed his brother-in-law Carlo da la Bassa. Carlo was
certainly eager to collect his credit and yet, somehow,
Giovanni managed to postpone the inevitable for
another three years: Carlo finally claimed Pin’s eleven
case da serzenti, the well, the squero and the adjacent plot
of land only on 28 January 1517.35 At a single stroke,
Giovanni had to give up the largest part of his family’s
estate in San Maurizio. Luckily, he did keep possession
of his casa da stazio and the three case da serzenti in which,
as we shall see, at that time Carpaccio was still living.
Carlo da la Bassa was definitely not attached to the
property of which he had just come into possession:
he only wanted to collect his credit and get back to
his business in Bologna. The time had finally come
for Giorgio Corner to recover what Francesco Pin
had snatched from under his nose a long time before.
On 1 April 1521, his pre-emption rights were granted
and the transfer of property from da la Bassa to him
was ratified by the Giudici del Proprio six days later.36
Documents show that Giorgio wanted to use the new
adjoining land to expand his palace, but this plan
remained on paper as the property was left unchanged
for years.37 Only in 1526 Giacomo Corner, the son
of Giorgio,38 decided to build a wall to separate his
family’s estate from Giovanni Pin’s – the same wall, it
should be stressed, whose planned construction led to
the lawsuit between the two neighbours.
Several records of the 1526 litigation have survived.39
Most of them are concerned with identifying the
successive owners (Pin, da la Bassa, Corner) and
clarifying the boundaries of the estates involved. In one
of them, an anonymous scribe goes over the estate’s sale
to Carlo de la Bassa in 1517 in order to establish the
borders of the property Corner acquired in 1521. While
describing the “casa da statio of said miser Zuan Pin”,
the author notes: “in which [casa da stazio] ser Vetor
Scarpazo once lived”.40 In other words, a document
“Et de presente habita ser vetor scarpaza depentor”: new documents on Carpaccio’s house and workshop at San Maurizio
datable to 1526, the year Carpaccio passed away,41
provides evidence indicating that the painter lived in
Pin’s casa da stazio in 1517. Furthermore, it could be
inferred that Carpaccio remained in Pin’s estate until
1523, since scholars have long demonstrated that the
painter witnessed the wills of Marietta de Canali (1
April) and Maria Contarini (5 September), both residing
“in the parish of San Maurizio” in that year.42
land, the boat-building yard (“squero”) is conveniently
located along the Grand Canal to its south. Directly
attached to the squero’s north-west, three additional
small houses face the court. All of these structures
and land were owned by the Corner family when the
map was drawn. Finally, most of the northern side
of the map is occupied by a very sizeable structure: a
building, almost as large as the rest of the estate, which
is described as “casa de ser Zuan Pin,” that is the casa
da stazio in which Carpaccio used to live. It is right in
front of this building that a long-dotted line parallel to
the casa da stazio’s facade marks the site where Giacomo
Corner planned to build his wall.
Carpaccio lived in San Maurizio for many years.
According to the evidence examined thus far, he
occupied a sizeable house that overlooked the Grand
Canal and shared its borders with a courtyard and a
plot of land with several rental units. An original map,
in all likelihood drawn during the 1526 litigation to
identify the exact location where Corner planned to
build his wall, offers the opportunity to have a closer
look at Carpaccio’s immediate neighbourhood (fig. 3).43
This map reveals unique, unprecedented information
about Carpaccio’s home and its surroundings. As the
wall had not yet been built when the plan was drawn,
Despite the large stain on the left-hand side, certainly
caused by humidity, the map is still clearly readable.
The Grand Canal flows on the right, along the very
edge of the paper, while there is a long calle leading
towards Campo San Maurizio along the map’s bottom
side. To navigate it properly, the map thus needs to be
rotated ninety degrees clockwise, in order for the sheet’s
left side to face north.
Arriving from Campo San Maurizio towards
the Grand Canal, past three houses, there is a
perpendicular calle which, after a couple of bends,
connects to an irregular space enclosed by a number
of structures. A few hand-written words help to clarify
their nature and functions. Eight small houses (“case”)
stand next to a long narrow drainage canal that
borders with the western side of Ca’ Corner, which
is not included in this map.44 Towards their west, the
eight houses face an irregular L-shaped open space
consisting of a vacant plot of land (“terreno vacuo”),
a court with a rainwater cistern (“sponza”)45, and a
well-head (“pozo”). On the opposite side of the empty
Fig. 3 / A Map of Pin and
Corner’s Neighbouring
Properties in San Maurizio, ca.
1526, Venice, Archivio di Stato:
Direzione Demanio Province
Venete, Venezia, Fabbriche, b.
59, fasc. II/D, f. 34r.
13
it can be assumed that Carpaccio had an easy, direct
access to the Grand Canal through the common court
and the vacant plot of land during his stay. Indeed, all
the items listed in both property sale agreements from
Pin to da la Bassa in 1517 and from da la Bassa to
Corner in 1521 (eleven case da serzenti, the squero, the well
and the vacant plot of land) are precisely rendered on
the map as Corner intended to separate them from Pin’s
casa da stazio. The whole area thus remained exactly as
Carpaccio had found it in 1513. It was only in 1526
that Corner decided to build a wall to cordon-off his
property and make it inaccessible to Pin and his tenants.
As documented in Gian Battista Arzenti’s View of Venice,
by the early seventeenth century the wall was turned
into a long housing block standing right in front of a
white two-storey house with an A-frame peaked roof,
Carpaccio’s home (fig. 4).

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