Sogno di san Marco

The Dream of Saint Mark

Domenico Tintoretto

Author
Domenico Tintoretto
Venezia, 1560 - 1635
Title
The Dream of Saint Mark
Catalogue
875
Support
Canvas, 388 x 314 cm
Provenance
Venice, Scuola Grande di San Marco; held by the museum since 1924
Hall
Hall XXIII

This work was originally thought to be by Jacopo Tintoretto and his son Domenico, but on the basis of documentary sources it is now attributed to Domenico alone. His unique ability both as a draftsman and painter are displayed in the portrayal of the figures and his analytical treatment of the landscape. This particular scene is not mentioned in Jacopo da Varagine’s Golden Legend but is illustrated in the mosaics of Saint Mark’s Basilica. It recounts a legend that became well-known in the thirteenth century and helped to establish the saint’s cult in Venice. Mark was sailing to Rome from Aquileia when a violent storm drove his boat towards the Venetian islands. During the night, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying, “Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus, hic requiescat corpus tuum”, meaning that his mortal remains would one day return to the place where he had had the vision, and in that same place the city of Venice would rise and he would be named its patron saint. The apparition of the angel illuminates the darkness while the lion, Saint Mark’s symbol, seems to be the only one who notices him. In the background, suspended between sea and land, fishermen go about their work near a group of dwellings made of wood and straw.