Parish Church of St. Servulus
Župna crkva sv. Servola
Buje, Istria County, Croatia
1754–1768 (church); 1737 (high altar)
Builders: Giovanni Dongetti [n.d.], Antonio Naiber [n.d.]; sculptor: Giovanni Marchiori (1696–1778); painter: Giuseppe Camerata (1676–1762); organ: Gaetano Callido (1727 –1813)
Religious, church and interior furnishing
City of Buje (church)
During rebuilding in the Baroque period this one-time nave and two-aisle church was re-modelled into a nave church with side chapels. Giovanni Dongetti, who was from Milan by descent but working in Piran from 1711, began the construction. Disagreements between Dongetti and his client resulted in him leaving the project and Antonio Naiber of Koper, with partial alterations to Dongetti’s original design, completed the church in 1768.
Along with elements of late Palladian religious architecture – pairs of pilasters and chapels with shallow barrel-vaulted ceilings – in the Parish Church of St. Servulus, it is possible to discern architectural approaches of another origin and their very clear links with solutions used in the sanctuaries of churches in the Italian region of Polesine and the surrounds of Rovigo. Giovanni Battista Pradin created a similar solution with, in 1762, the Church of St. Michael in Viellanova del Ghebbo.
The most important sculptures are the marble figures of St. Servulus and St. Sebastian on the high altar, the first documented works of the Italian sculptor, Giovanni Marchiori. Unfortunately, the original appearance of the altar, degraded by a gilt altar added to the original “scenery”, means the tabernacle and partially the sculptures as well are completely concealed by its decoration. The bases of both statues are signed; that of St. Servulus is dated 1737. These are highly proficient works, the Classicist orientation of which is without parallel in Venetian sculpture contemporary to it and indicating that to this day the sculptural impulses relating to it are insufficiently illuminated. In later works, the Classical aspect was to become still stronger, which justifies the claim that Marchiori anticipated Neo-Classicism. Also in the church is an organ by Gaetano Callido of 1791.
The church, built between 1754 and 1768 by the builders, Giovanni Dongetti and Antonio Naiber, has a nave and side chapels but no aisle. An example of a very distinctive version of late Palladian architecture, the original Dongetti design can be seen in a wooden model kept in the sacristy. Apart from the stone portal, the façade of the church remained unfinished. The high alter has two important marble sculptures by Giovanni Marchiori, whose work was broadly speaking Classicist. One of these sculptures, St. Servulus, is both signed and dated 1737, and represents Marchiori's first documented piece in marble.
Archival sources and the date on the base of the sculpture.
Giovanni Marchiori (1696–1778)
The strongly bent figure of St. Sebastian, shown in agony, fixes his gaze on the sky. This is a perfect example of Marchiori’s flawless mastery of the human figure.
Side wall of the Presbytery
Giuseppe Camerata (1676–1762)
Late Baroque dynamics and pathos are characteristics of this painting depicting the early Christian martyr, saint protector of Buje.