CAMPAGNA, Girolamo
(b. ca. 1549, Verona, d. 1625, Venezia)

High Altar

1591-93
Bronze and copper gilt, 350 cm
San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

The High Altar for Palladio's San Giorgio Maggiore reveals Campagna's potential. The complex, based on a drawing by the painter Vassilacchi, expanded the conventions of the altarpiece. In unprecedented fashion, Campagna transformed the pictorial design into three dimensions (but retained its painterly qualities), which allowed a view of Palladio's magnificent double colonnade behind the altar.

The pyramidal structure consists of a gilded copper globe supported by bronze Evangelists as Atlas figures. Their poses echo Michelangelo's four late "Slaves" but they are individualized and finished. The Dove of the Holy Spirit descends to a crucifix in front of the globe, on which stands God the Father, completing the Trinity on the central axis. This Counter-Reformation image, whose metal surface reflects the light in the sanctuary, is worthy of the intense visions of Tintoretto and the physicality of Verone. Its illusionism anticipates Bernini, especially his Cathedra Petri.