Miracolo della reliquia della Santa Croce

Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross

Benedetto Rusconi, detto Benedetto Diana

Author
Benedetto Rusconi, detto Benedetto Diana
Venezia 1460 c. - 1525
Title
Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross
Catalogue
565
Date
ca. 1505–1510
Support
Canvas, 371 x 150 cm
Provenance
Venice, Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista, purchased following the Napoleonic Suppression, 1820
Hall
Hall XX

The canvas is part of a cycle of stories regarding the miracles of the relic of the Holy Cross commissioned by the members of the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista in about 1505–1510. The artists they commissioned – Lazzaro Bastiani, Gentile Bellini, Giovanni Mansueti, Vittore Carpaccio, and Benedetto Diana – all worked independently. The episode depicted in this canvas recalls the miraculous healing of the son of “sire Alvise Finetti scribe at the Office of loans”, which happened on 10 March 1480 thanks to a fragment of Christ’s cross held at the Scuola. A small group of people are huddled at the foot of the stairs around a kneeling woman holding a dying child in her arms. The architecture is reminiscent of the interior courtyard of a Venetian palazzo, dominated by an imposing staircase that links the upper floors whose arcade galleries give on to the open space of the ground floor. The precise definition of the spaces, constructed by rigorously applying the rules of perspective, allows us to identify the vanishing point along the central vertical axis, a device that gives structural solidity to the painting and contradicts the hypothesis put forward by some scholars that the original format was cropped. The fact that an important Scuola should have turned to a painter we now consider a minor figure compared to the great names who were also involved is justified by Diana’s fame at the time, which we find traces of in numerous older writers such as Vasari, Ridolfi, and Boschini.