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San Pantalon and around

The church with the extraordinary ceiling

Fumiani's ceiling in San Pantalon

The unfinished façade of San Pantalon (the Venetian for San Pantaleone) is a slightly outrageous gift that someone forgot to wrap, for inside it contains The Miracles and Apotheosis of San Pantalon, the most extraordinary trompe l’œil ceiling in Italy.

This was the life’s work of Gian Antonio Fumiani – although the story that he died in 1704, falling off the scaffolding after 24 years on the job may be baloney, as some sources say he survived another six years. Rather than paint in fresco, Fumiani used 60 panels, which all put together make not one of the world’s greatest paintings, but certainly one of the largest.

San Pantalon, martyred under Diocletian, was a healer like St Roch, and as such was very popular in plague-torn Venice. One of his miracles was the subject of one of Veronese’s last paintings, St Pantalon Healing a Child (1587), in the second chapel on the right; it is sombre, twilit and melancholy in tone, and you can sense Veronese’s foreboding of his own death (and perhaps not a whole lot of confidence in Pantalon’s ability to do anything about it).

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls