The Church of Santo Stefano ( St. Stephen) is a large church at the northern end of the Campo Santo Stefano in Venice. It was founded in the 13th century, rebuilt in the 14th century and altered again early in the 15th century, when the fine gothic doorway and ship's keel roof were added.
The tall interior is also Gothic and has three apses.
The church of Santo Stefano was built by the Augustinian order in the period bridging the late XIII and early XIV centuries. (The order settled in Venice at the end of the XIII century.) The church was modified quite drastically in the XV century, and a solution unique in Venetian church architecture adopted: an extension was built over the Rio del Santissimo behind the church to house the apses, and was connected to the church by a bridge. The church has three naves, no transepts, a deep presbytery and two apse chapels. The church's most striking features are its depth and colours. The walls are frescoed in a pattern based on rhomboids with a cross inside, in false red and white brick. The ceiling is a splendid example of keel vaulting, not unlike that of the church of San Giacomo dall'Orio, and is decorated with rosettes and painted. Many works of art are kept in the church, but particularly interesting are those in the sacristy, which is a nice XV century room.
The "keel" roof is particularly striking; and in the Presbytery there are fine Choirstalls in inlaid wood dating from 1488. The Sacristy contains a veritable museum of work by some of the great names in Venetian Renaissance art. Among those one might mention there are Jacopo Tintoretto's Last Supper, The Washing of the Feet and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (which all date from around the time of his work in the Scuola di San Rocco - 1575-1580), Paris Bordon's Baptism of Christ (16th century), a polyptych by Bartolomeo Vivarini and a finely-sculpted Head of St. Sebastian by Tullio Lombardo. There are also several other works of 15th-century sculpture by pupils of the Lombardo School.
Works of art
- Antonio Canova (stele commemorating Giovanni Falier in the baptistery)
- Pietro Lombardo (tomb of Giacomo Surian)
- Tullio Lombardo (two marble statuettes in the sacristy (attributed))
- Tintoretto (The Agony in the Garden, The Last Supper and The Washing of the Disciples' Feet, all in the sacristy)
- Paolo Veneziano (painted Crucifix in the sacristy)
- Bartolomeo Vivarini (St Lawrence and St Nicholas of Bari in the sacristy)
- Doge Andrea Contarini (d.1382)
- Giovanni Falier
- Francesco Morosini
- Giacomo Surian
- Giovanni Gabrieli (d. 1612) Great Venetian composer and organist at San Marco