Oratorio di San Michele

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A historical church decorated by Jacopo da Verona with frescoes inspired by the Gospels, episodes from daily life, and portraits of leading figures of fourteenth-century Padua

Oratorio di San Michele
© 'Oratorio di San Michele' di ERRERigo è concesso in licenza sotto CC BY-SA 4.0
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Standing in a small square of the same name, near the Carrara Castle, the Oratory of Saint Michael is a historic Paduan building that had undergone alterations over the centuries, radically changing the architectural appearance of a church. Dedicated to Saint Michael and the Holy Archangels, the church origins date back to sometime between the 6th and the second half of the 7th century.

By the late 14th century, the church had come within the da Carrara sphere of influence. During the Visconti forces’ siege of the city in 1390, a fire badly damaged the church. After the incident, the de Bovi family decided to finance the work to rebuild it, and in 1397 the church was extended decorated with frescoes at the interior. A stone plaque placed on the internal wall in front of the entrance to the chapel confirms that the frescoes were the work of Jacopo da Verona, the same artist that worked with Altichiero da Zevio on the frescoes at the Oratory of Saint George. However, the Saint Michael frescoes are the only works that can with certainty be attributed to him alone, which is also the last example of fresco painting in fourteenth-century Padua.

During the years of the Serenissima, the ownership of the church passed to the Venetian Republic thence to various other Venetian families. In 1808 the structure built by the de Bovi was downgraded to an Oratory, and this caused its decline until it was closed to the public four years later. In 1815, Francesco Pisani, who owned the palazzo alongside the church, decided to demolish the oratory. All that survived was part of the nave and the chapel with the frescoes by Jacopo da Verona. The frescoes of the northern and western parts were detached and framed and were restored and repositioned in the Oratory only at the end of the 20th century. A fresco attributed to Tuscan artist Cennino Cennini, a painter at the court of the last Carraresi Lord of Padua (Francesco II), detached from its original wall, is now part of the collection of the Civic Museums of Padova.

Description of the frescoes cycle

In the 14th century, pictorial art was incredibly influenced by Giotto. Jacopo da Verona developed his original style, a pleasant and fluent narration of scenes of sacred origin with a lively and affable interpretation of daily life. He devoted particular attention to the rendering of portrait likenesses and naturalistic details. Even at the technical level, there is a development upon the lessons learned from Giotto, with Jacopo da Verona further exploring the interaction between different colours – particularly in the modelling of volume and the creation of effects of iridescence. Another peculiarity of his style is the depiction of interiors and various objects that make it possible to set a biblical event in everyday life. The overall atmosphere becomes more bourgeois and domestic, which replaces the aristocratic elegance that had characterised the decorations of the Basilica’s chapels, the Baptistery, and the Carrara Palace.

The frescoes within the Oratory of Saint Michael recount five episodes from the Life of the Virgin, which unfold around the space in an anticlockwise direction. Jacopo da Verona was such a skilled portraitist that it has been possible to identify various real-life characters in the cortege of figures within The Adoration of the Magi. The procession opens with Francesco Novello da Carrara, behind whom comes Francesco I da Carrara. It has also been argued that the figures seen in the profile at The Burial of the Virgin may be members of the de Bovi family.


Oratorio di San Michele

Piazzetta San Michele, 1
Padova (PD), Veneto, Italia
Mostra mappa
10:00 - 13:00
10:00 - 13:00
10:00 - 13:00
10:00 - 13:00
15:00 - 18:00
15:00 - 18:00

Giorni di chiusura tutti i lunedì non festivi, 1 gennaio, 1 maggio, 25 e 26 dicembre.



Nelle vicinanze
  • La Specola è l'osservatorio astronomico di Padova, realizzato nel 1765 nella torre dell'antico Castello della città.

  • Prato della Valle a Padova è una delle più scenografiche piazze al mondo, e con i suoi 90.000 metri quadrati una delle più grandi d'Europa.

  • Piazza Duomo è una delle piazze che si aprono nel cuore di Padova. È caratterizzata dal profilo della Basilica del Duomo, con il Battistero e il Palazzo Vescovile.

  • Affrescato di Giusto de' Menabuoi con scene dell'Antico e del Nuovo Testamento e con lo splendido Cristo Pantocratore che troneggia sulla grande cupola

  • The Chapel with its frescoes painted by Guariento is a fantastic testimony of the splendor of what used to be the Carrara Palace