Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Design

First Advisor

John Decker

Second Advisor

Akela Reason

Third Advisor

Maria Gindhart


Renaissance marriage is a much-studied subject, yet little attention has been given to the influence of marital practice on the civic affairs of confraternities. By considering the decisions of the Venetian Scuola dei Mercanti confraternity through the lens of Venetian marriage practice, I demonstrate how the Mercanti employed a multi-alignment advancement strategy in a manner similar to that employed by marriage partners seeking upward social mobility. Specifically, I argue that the Mercanti’s maneuvers were carried out for the purpose of transforming itself from a scuola piccolo to a scuola grande. Viewed from this perspective, the Mercanti’s artistic and architectural commissions appear as carefully executed maneuvers designed to elevate its social status. To demonstrate this thesis, I outline the Mercanti’s strategy of aligning with the neighboring Madonna dell’Orto church, the prominent architect Palladio and, especially, the older, established Scuola Grande della Misericordia.