The acknowledged masterpieces inside Dorsoduro's church of Santa Maria dei Carmini are altarpieces by Cima da Conegliano and Lorenzo Lotto, and each is stunning--and rather pricey to see, as the necessary illumination for the former costs 50 centesimi, while the latter sets you back a full euro, and you could easily drop 4 or 5 coins into each light box before getting your fill.
But if you're also in the mood for something a little more redolent of Spring, as I was two days ago on a rainy Monday afternoon, you may get a sore neck from craning your head back to peer at the ceiling high above a side altar but it won't cost you a thing. Up there you'll find the fresco Gloria di Angeli by Sebastiano Ricci, painted in 1709. It has the gold background of the great Byzantine paintings you can see around Venice, but with none of that era's solemnity--or, as Ruskin would no doubt say, piety.
Well, sometimes piety only takes you so far... As Ruskin's poor wife could attest.
But perhaps Ruskin would have had a point, as I'll admit that one of the things I found myself distantly (and perhaps nonsensically) recalling while looking at Ricci's fresco was a mural of wood nymphs painted in the 1930s by Howard Chandler Christy for an Upper West Side Manhattan restaurant I knew a dozen years ago as Café des Artistes. A very poor and partial image of this mural is below:
The restaurant closed in 2009, then reopened last year as Leopard at des Artistes. I don't know a thing about this new restaurant except that it serves Southern Italian food and the Italian owners had the good sense to preserve Chandler's series of murals.