Church of Madonna dell'Orto, full restoration

About the project

Originally founded in the 12th century, the church was rebuilt in the 14th century.   

After the 1966 floods the first phase of restoration work (1968-70) included re-roofing the 15th century side aisles and replacing the rotten brickwork up to a height of 10ft, using the ‘scuci-cuci’ or ‘unsewing-sewing’ method of patch repairs as well as inserting a damp-proof course. 

At the same time Tintoretto’s huge canvases either side of high altar: the Last Judgement and the Worship the Golden Calf, were removed for conservation in the disused church of San Gregorio.

Both these initiatives marked the beginning of a new era of international co-operation for the safeguarding of Venice.

Between 1992-94, a second campaign focussed on the facade.  The parapet statues of the apostles and that of St Christopher, patronal saint, above the main door, as well as the ornamental brickwork, were all  consolidated and cleaned using new analytical techniques to determine good conservation practice.

The 19th century organ was  dismantled and repaired with a donation from the Fondation Jean-Barthelemy. Lighting was installed to facilitate the organisation of concerts and allow fuller appreciation of  Tintoretto’s seven paintings and the church’s fine Gothic interior.

How to find it

In brief

  • The parish church of Madonna dell’Orto – the Madonna of the vegetable garden – was Venice in Peril’s first project. 
  • Madonna dell’Orto was Tintoretto’s parish church and is a key place to see his work.  As well as the huge canvases either side of the main altar there are the paintings that originally hung as organ shutters. The outside featured the  Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, while the inner shutters included  the Vision of the Cross to St Peter and the Beheading of St Paul. In the Contarini chapel is a further work: St Agnes reviving Licinio
  • ‘Restoring Venice: the Church of the Madonna dell’Orto’, Marsilio 2016, gives a full account of the ground-breaking research and conservation work, funded by British donors and directed by the Venetian Soprintendenze in the 1970s. It is  available to buy here
  • To visit Madonna dell’Orto 

More images