Church of St. Blaise, Dubrovnik
Crkva sv. Blaža
Architect and sculptor: Marino Gropelli (1662–1728)
Religious architecture, Baroque central church with a ground plan in the form of an inscribed Greek cross and dome
The Republic of Dubrovnik (the Senate)
Although spared in the earthquake of 1667, a fire in 1706 devastated the medieval church dedicated to the patron saint of the town, St. Blaise. The new church, built on the foundations of the old one, was re-orientated so that the entrance facade faced the main city street (Placa). Chosen by the people of Dubrovnik (the Senate), the architect of this highly demanding brief was the Venetian architect and sculptor, Marino Gropelli.
In line with the Venetian origins of the architect, Marino Gropelli, the organisation of the ground plan and space of St. Blaise consists of a Greek cross inscribed into a square nave, which develops into a square sanctuary and concludes with an inscribed apse flanked by two sacristies. Apart from the traditional Venetian features in the choice of ground plan, Gropelli used the same model for the elevation and the vaulting: the central Corinthian columns bear the tambour of the high dome and lantern, and in the corners of the nave, there are lower blind cupolas. Barrel vaults cover the vertical “legs” of the Greek cross and the sanctuary, on the axis of which there are large thermal windows. Such articulation of the interior reveals direct models in classical Venetian architecture, for example, Sansovino's San Maurizio, while some details such as the dark-grey columns and arches, are inspired by Andrea Palladio. On the exterior, in addition to the sources mentioned above, Gropelli exploits the achievements reached by contemporary Venetian Baroque architecture. The plasticity of the vertical “legs” of the Greek cross – which by their height are prominent – are surmounted by a central cupola and placed in an oblique base of rustic stone (bugnato), with stairs and balustrades, while the three-part facade with a round gable is decoratively articulated in a similar way to Baltasare Longhena's Church of S. Lorenzo Giustiniani. The skilful architectural sculpting (masquerons), along with the freestanding statues of the patron, the angels and personifications of Faith and Hope, tell of the primary vocation of the architect: sculpture. Thus with these characteristics, the Church of St. Blaise shows an architectural approach unique in Dubrovnik, one which influenced local architecture, primarily at the level of the enrichment of architectural embellishment.View Short Description
Badly damage by fire, the church was rebuilt between 1707 an 1715. For the reconstruction of the church dedicated to the city's patron saint, St. Blaise, the people of Dubrovnik (the Senate) chose a Venetian architect, Marino Gropelli who used the traditional Venetian ground plan with an inscribed Greek cross and domes in the central and corner fields. The exterior of the church is distinctive for its oblique base with stairs and a balustrade, and for the high quality architectural and figurative sculptures of the patron, angels and distinctive Venetian masquerons.
On the basis of documents and stylistic features.
Round gable of the façade
Marino Gropelli (1662–1728)
A freestanding figure of the patron saint of the church and of Dubrovnik itself St. Blaise.
Marino Gropelli (1662–1728)
Figure of a woman holding in her left hand her attribute of a large anchor.
Marino Gropelli (1662–1728)
A combination of white and polychrome marble make up the altar, conceived as custodial with the statue of the saint. The domed antependium has two angels unveiling a curtain in front of a medallion, while a high niche contains a silver statue of St. Blaise –richly decorated with volutes, acanthus leaves, figures and heads of angels – rising from the mensa. Two kneeling angels with outspread wings in an emotion-laden attitude of prayer and adoration, flank the central composition. This altar, typical of the Baroque aspiration towards dynamism and opulent colour, is typologically consistent with the group of altars created under the influence of Baltazar Longhena, and his altar in the Church of S. Lorenzo Giustiniani in Venice.
Prijatelj, K., “Barok u Dalmaciji”, in Horvat, A., (ed), Barok u Hrvatskoj, Zagreb, 1982, pp. 649–916.
Marković, V., “Ljetnikovac Bozdari u Rijeci dubrovačkoj i Marino Gropelli” in Prilozi povijesti umjetnosti u Dalmaciji 30 (1990), pp. 95–114.
Tomić, R., Barokni oltari i skulptura u Dalmaciji, Zagreb, 1995, pp.117–119.
Katarina Horvat-Levaj "Church of St. Blaise, Dubrovnik" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;hr;Mon11;7;en
Prepared by: Katarina Horvat-LevajKatarina Horvat-Levaj
AFFILIATION: Institute of Art History, Zagreb
TITLE: PhD, Scientific Consultant
Katerina Horvat-Levaj graduated with a BA in Art History and Archaeology in 1981 from the University of Zagreb (Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Art History). In 1985 she obtained her MA and in 1988 she was awarded a scholarship at the University of Padua. In 1995 she defended her Doctorate at Zagreb University on Representative Residential Architecture of the Baroque in Dubrovnik. Since 1982, she has been employed at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb, and is presently a Senior Research Associate. Katarina also teaches at the University of Split. At the University of Zagreb she participates at doctoral level in the Faculty of Croatian Studies and the faculties of Architecture and Philosophy.
Translation by: Graham McMaster
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: HR 08