The cycle of life and miracles of San Domenico

The cycle of life and miracles of San Domenico by Pietro Damini (1617- 1624)

In the Sanctuary of San Domenico are displayed four “teleri” showing the 'Stories and Miracles of San Domenico' by Pietro Damini. The works are not placed in chronological order but probably by criteria of conceptual and programmatic order, in the intent to celebrate, in the superior part of the wall, 'The Victories of Faith against Heretics and Infidels, while in the inferior zone is displayed “The Demonstration of the Gotten Miracles', almost an action of authentication, for intercession by the Dominicans. In the first “lunotto”, upper left is 'S. Domenico gives a rosary to a Queen' (1624). The scene is dominated at its centre by the two main figures: at one side, the Saint in modest Dominican garb and on the other a noble woman dressed in a golden, ducal cape, ample ruff and with a crown on her head.
The painting is evidently celebratory and allegorical in which the female figure represents the Venetian Republic just after her victory at Lepanto. Painted just over half a century after the battle the piece is intended to evoke the memory of the victory over the infidel and to promote the practice of the Rosary which San Domenico promoted with the support of Pope Pius V. In the symmetrical “lunotte” the artist represents the victory over the heretics in “An Episode of the War Against the Albigesi” (1209 – 1229) in which the battle takes place under a leaden sky and which uses perspective to great scenographic effect where men and animals are animated in the same strong vital positions as those of the angels and saints, participating from on high. In the two lower canvases Damini concerns himself with the theme of miracles.
In “The Rescue of a Shipwreck Victim” the painter does not ignore his vocation in the search for theatrical effect and involving description in which to portray a situation, common yet nonetheless perilous to the sailors of Chioggia. He does so through effective use of perspective. He appears more peaceful and classical in the episode in which 'S. Domenico confesses a beheaded prostitute' (1619. 20) but the artist does not show any less of his ability despite the less dramatic nature of the work. The great ability of inventive scenography and above all the descriptive strength of is work prove Damini to be a most authentic and original 'narrator'.


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