The Lost Heritage
San Geminiano's Church in Saint Mark's Square in Venice
The Lost Heritage is a historical reconstruction of the San Geminiano’s Church in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, demolished during the Napoleonic domination of Venice. The work, based on a historical research, aims, through a virtual reconstruction, to revive images of the impact that the Church would have on the Square if it had never been demolished.
Very often our Cultural Heritage deals with several cases of lost monuments or part of them, due to destruction, replacement or radical changes caused over time. In this work we have as an example the San Geminiano’s Church in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, a masterpiece of sixteenth-century architecture by the great master Jacopo Sansovino demolished in 1807 during the Napoleonic domination of Venice. It is believed that the Church had origins dating back to the Sixth century, making it one of the oldest in Venice. This is a particular case of an intangible heritage of a very well-known place which Saint Mark’s Square is, but which has lost an important piece of architecture.
The project of reconstruction of San Geminiano’s Church is an example of recreating a detailed virtual model of an invisible Architecture that no longer exists. It can, on one hand give a better understanding of urban and architectural transformations; on the other hand, it helps the spread of Cultural Heritage facts, by using tools of modeling and visualization, to reach a wider public directly. The Lost Heritage, based on a multidisciplinary, scientific and cultural approach wants to be a documentation of intangible. The reconstruction wants to revive some evocative images of the Church and of the Square and how this might appear today if the Church had never been demolished. Some of the artworks, once contained in the Church have been lost but fortunately some are still present, they were relocated and are now preserved in various museums and art galleries. Among the artworks found there are: The High Altar and marble statues, now located in the San Giovanni Battista Church in Venice belonging to the Order of Malta, one of the Minor Altars is now located in the National Museum of Villa Pisani in Stra, two marble busts representing Matteo Eletto and Benedetto Manzini, the organ doors by Paolo Veronese, a painting by Bernardino da Murano representing Saint Helen. The Tintoretto altarpiece representing Saint Catherine was for several years part of David Bowie's private collection. Some of the artworks found have been analyzed and captured trough laser scanning and photogrammetry surveys to be later processed and inserted in the virtual model of the Church. The Church itself and parts of the New and Old Procuratie were modeled in 3D based on the paintings by Canaletto, Bellotto and drawings by Antonio Visentini. Two centuries ago the importance of preserving a masterpiece of sixteenth-century architecture was not given any consideration, but today, we are able to digitally reconstruct what no longer exists. Furthermore, this reconstruction work might serve as a museum exhibition piece and a virtual reality experience can be developed to explore the Church immersively.