“Et de presente habita ser vetor scarpaza depentor”: new documents on Carpaccio’s house and workshop at San Maurizio
Fig. 8 / A view of the
Campiello del Tagiapiera
(or del Pozzetto) with
modern well-head.
Thirdly, having the workshop attached to his home
would prove quite appropriate, as it would have given
Carpaccio and his assistants direct access to both the
androne, where working materials could be stored, and
the private court on the rear of the casa da stazio. In a
city as humid as Venice, painters needed outdoor spaces
where their paintings could air-dry. In 1512 Alvise
Bastiani, for instance, managed to exchange his house
in San Luca with a property close to Biri Grande from
the Scuola della Carità, which would offer him a “wider
and larger place to dry his paintings”. It has also been
argued that Titian moved to the same neighbourhood
for identical reasons.51 Finally, since Corner decided to
build a wall to separate the two properties only in 1526,
it can be inferred that Carpaccio had direct access to
the Grand Canal through the vacant plot of land in
front of the house during his stay. This would prove
beneficial when delivering paintings, as it provided him
with a semi-private space through which the works
could be carried to the water. Indeed, it definitely was
from here that the paintings were shipped not only to
Carpaccio’s Venetian patrons, but also to those who
resided in much more distant cities like Pozzale di
Cadore, Treviso, Chioggia, and even Piran and Koper.
“Et de presente habita ser vetor scarpaza depentor”: new documents on Carpaccio’s house and workshop at San Maurizio
Carpaccio’s house in San Maurizio indicates that by at
least 1513 the painter had secured himself a satisfactory
income. Documents also show that his workshop was
still successful ten years later, as Carpaccio received 317
ducats for various paintings in San Pietro di Castello
from the Patriarch Antonio Contarini between October
1522 and November 1523.52 It appears, then, that
Carpaccio’s earnings were certainly large enough to
afford a casa da stazio along the Grand Canal, even in
his later years. In Renaissance Venice, living in a casa
da stazio was an expression of material wealth and
personal standing, particularly when non-noble tenants
were concerned.53 Originally built as seats of patrician
families, Venetian case da stazio were often rented to
well-off middle-class families seeking an upper-class
residence that, among other things, would proclaim
their professional achievements and advance their social
aspirations.54 In this respect, a surprising parallel might
be drawn between Carpaccio and Titian since they
paid roughly the same, 38 and 40 ducats respectively,
for the annual rent of their case da stazio.55
Just like Carpaccio, when Titian moved into his casa
da stazio in Biri Grande (1531) he had two floors at
his disposal: the androne, which he probably used for
storage, and the upper piano nobile as his dwelling (fig. 9).56
Evidence suggests that both Titian’s and Carpaccio’s
houses were large enough to accommodate many people,
including their respective households and pupils. The
location of their workshops was also similar: in both
cases they were separated from the rest of the house,
although it seems that Carpaccio’s was installed in
a more dignified structure than Titian’s, which was
described as a tezza (shack), part masonry and part
wood.57 In addition, the two case da stazio featured a
private open space in the backyard – a garden in the case
of Titian, a courtyard in Carpaccio’s – which afforded
plenty of room to let their paintings air-dry and, one
might add, to keep them out of sight from prying eyes.
Both houses, finally, had direct access to water, so that
paintings could be easily shipped to patrons. All things
considered, it would appear that Titian’s and Carpaccio’s
residences met needs specifically associated with work-
related activities. Further evidence, however, suggests that
they were also used for status-related issues such as social
legitimacy and public reputation.
Recently, it has been argued that Titian’s house was a
polyvalent space in which the master would not only live
and run his workshop, but also host friends, artists, men
of letters, collectors, brokers and even ambassadors.58 A
place, as recorded by one of his guests, where “some of
the most celebrated characters” of Venice would gather
to admire Titian’s “excellent pictures”, praise the “real
beauty and charm of [his] garden”, enjoy the “most
delicate viands and precious wines”, and cherish the
view of the “pretty little island of Murano, and other
beautiful places”.59 Clearly, Titian’s casa da stazio was
much more than just a place to live and work. It was a
place meant to impress visitors and display the host’s
professional success, refined taste, and personal status.
Standing along the Grand Canal, it is likely that
Carpaccio’s residence was also used to reinforce, and in
Fig. 9 / Anonymous after
Cadorin, La Casa di Tiziano
da un disegno del Cadorin,
in Josiah Gilbert, Cadore or
Titian’s Country (London:
Longmans, Green and Co,
1869), pl. 1.
fact promote, the painter’s social status. Only recently
Carpaccio’s mature oeuvre has been re-assessed
in view of his patrons’ wealth, prestige, and sociopolitical power.60 Between 1513 and 1523, the years
he lived in Pin’s casa da stazio, Carpaccio worked for
some of the most renowned Venetians of the time:
members of the high clergy, patrician magistrates
and executives, well-off merchant citizens, celebrated
sculptors, and perhaps even bankers.61 Despite this,
there is no evidence recording receptions or social
gatherings at Carpaccio’s residence, even if it offered
appropriate spaces to accommodate distinguished
guests either in the large portego or in the courtyard
and garden overlooking the Grand Canal. It is in
the context of this network of an upscale Venetian
clientele that Carpaccio’s house and workshop need
to be appreciated and ref lected on. And, in turn, it is
in relation to the upper-class nature of his residence
– its size, character, location, and neighbours – that
Carpaccio’s later professional standing must be reevaluated and re-addressed.


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