Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge by Vittore Carpaccio depicts a procession over Venice’s Rialto Bridge. In the painting, a splinter of the holy cross is held before a man possessed and he is instantly healed.
It’s one of eight canvases in Sala XX of the Academia in Venice that narrate the miracles of this object of veneration and instigator of renaissance phenomenons a-plenty. My mother looked up from her guidebook to report that all of these eight paintings originally hung in the School of St John the Evangelist.
After the extraordinarily modern-looking small white dog (a happy passenger of a gondola in the foreground), my eyes were drawn to the pink rooftops. Much of Venetian life took place on these cool roof terraces, high above the street. Their rosy appearance as perceived by Carpaccio is a warmly familiar one, if not for the fact that in Carpaccio’s 15th century Venice, washing was hung not on lines but poles.
Carpaccio was well known for his fondness of the dusty rose pigment used liberally in this painting. Today he is forever synonymous with the colour: Beef Carpaccio was invented at Harry’s Bar in the 50s and the dish was named after the Renaissance artist as the rose-pink colour of the succulent meat was reminiscent of his works. Then called Rose Carpaccio, the delicate slices of beef were served with parmigiano, mushroom, artichoke and a sluice of olive oil, affordable only to the bar’s most wealthy patrons.