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Church of San Giovanni Evangelista

Tue, 09/10/2012 - 11:46 -- Chiara
Brescia, San Giovanni Evangelista

The church was founded in the 4thcentury by San Gaudenzio, Bishop of Brescia, rebuilt between 1440 and 1447 and then altered in the 17thcentury. The facade with its severe 15thcentury lines has a stone doorway with an arch resting on two early 16thcentury columns. On each side of the doorway there are pointed arches taken from the tombs of the Maggi family in Paitone. The interior, built on the Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles, was completely rebuilt in the first half of the 17thcentury by Girolamo Quadrio, who incorporated the ancient brick pillars into other majestic stone ones. The only parts remaining of the original 15th century structure are: the Chapel del Santissimo Sacramento, the Chapel of Santa Maria (with frescos of the school of Foppa) and the polygonal apse. The church contains important works of art: Assunta (Assumption) over the first altar on the right, Strage defli Innocenti  (The Slaughter of the Innocents) by Moretto (1531) over the third altar, and in the chapel after the fourth altar, Madonna con Bambino, a panel repainted by Moretto, in a richly decorated marble frame by Antonio Callegari. There is a Crocefisso ligneo (wooden crucifix) from the Brescian school (1480) in the chancel and behind it numerous works by Moretto. The vestry ,with its many paintings, is to the right.

Next to the Chapel of Santa Maria, in the left transept, there is the Chapel del Santissimo Sacramento with its important collection of paintings by Romanino and Moretto, who were commissioned by the church canons, in a contract dated 1521, to decorate one wall each.  Moretto painted La Raccolta della Manna (Gathering Manna), Elia destato da un angelo  (Elijah awoken by an Angel), San Luca e San Marco, Ultima cena (The Last Supper) and six Profeti - all on the wall to the right. While Romanino painted:Resurrezione di Lazzaro (The Raising of Lazarus), San Matteo e San Giovanni evangelista, Cena in casa del fariseo (Supper at the Pharisee's House), and Profeti  on the wall to the left. Both series of paintings show a strong plastic sense and a particular luminosity and naturalness in their treatment of the figures, which are set in landscapes of muted tones. There are another two works by Romanino in the church: Madonna con Bambino e Santi painted in his youth, over the fourth altar on the left, and Sposalizio della Vergine  (Wedding of the Virgin Mary) on the left-hand wall of the baptistery.

There is an elegant cloister with a double loggia dating from around 1487 to the right of the church.


Contrada San Giovanni