This was one of the first known Ducal votive paintings. It places the Doge, as the representative of the Venetian state, before the Madonna and Child. This would become a standard formula for this type of painting.

Below the painting is the tomb of Doge Dandolo. It is situated in the chapter house.
(Chapter houses were used for meetings, called chapters, to conduct the business affairs of a monastery or cathedral and to deal with matters for which the church itself would not be appropriate. It was often reached thru the cloister, like this one is)
Dandolo’s tomb was intended to be an official state monument. His will instructed that it should be “an honorable and worthy tomb, with as little pomp and vanity as possible, except for what is proper for the honor of Venice.

The painter, Paolo Veneziano is the first named painters to emerge from medieval anonymity in Venice. This painting is one of the few remaining examples of his work in its original location.



1. Doge Francesco Dandolo

The Doges' nobility is shown by the gold (faded now) spurs revealed beneath his robe and the unmistakeable Doge’s cap.

The Doge is presented directly to the infant Jesus by his name-saint, Saint Francis.

Notice how humbly his wife is dressed directly opposite him, not a symbol of nobility on her.


2. Doges Wife

Elisabetta Contarini, is presented to Mary by her patron saint, Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (or Hungary-have seen both). She commissioned this lunette soon after her husband's death.
The House of Contarini is one of the twelve founding families of the Venetian Republic. In total eight Doges to the Republic of Venice emerged from this family, as well as 44 Procurators of San Marco, numerous ambassadors, diplomats and other notables.


3. St Francis of Assisi

How do we know this is St Francis?
He will be dressed in the Franciscan robe and the big tell will be wounds from the stigmata he received.
Brown robe: Yes
3 knot belt: Yes
Stigmata: Yes
Tonsure (shaved head): Yes


4. St. Elisabeth of Hungary

How do we know this is St Elisabeth of Hungary?
Her name is written next to her on the painting. But there is nothing special to identify her.

She is typically painted with roses, a crown, and/or food basket: No

Have also seen her identified as St Elizabeth of Portugal.

Patron name saint of Elisabetta Contarini


5. The VM and child

Notice the byzantine style: long flat faces, almond eyes, shapeless bodies, long hands, gold background, and individuals proportioned according to importance, which is why the VM and baby Jesus are so big.


6. Coat of Arms

Dandalo coat of arms


7. Sarcophagus of Doge Dandolo

He is laid to rest in a Byzantine style urn which was once entirely covered in gold. On the front is the Death of The VM surrounded by the apostles.