70. Santa Maria della Salute: Part 2
It has a number of unusual features: the double domes, one larger than the other; the octagonal shape of the main interior space; and the bizarre spiraling pinwheel buttresses surrounding the larger dome, like slices from some giant swiss roll.
Henry James described the building as like "some great lady on the threshold of her salon…with her domes and scrolls, her scalloped buttresses and statues forming a pompous crown, and her wide steps disposed on the ground like the train of a robe."
John Ruskin was less enthusiastic in his 1853 book, 'The Stones of Venice'. "(Among) the principal faults of the building are… the ridiculous disguise of the buttresses under the form of colossal scrolls…"
Ruskin called the buttresses themselves on this "Grotesque Renaissance" building "an hypocrisy", and if his cited source is correct, then he was right in this assessment. Ruskin observed that Selvatico and Lazari in their 'Guida di Venezia a delle isole cirnconvicine' state that the cupola structure is made of timber. With a stone cupola, the downward and outward forces from the compressive weight of the dome would need reinforcing buttresses to hold it up, but with a lighter wooden dome, no buttresses at all would have been necessary.
Which means they aren't really buttresses at all and that Longhena put them on just for decoration. How Italian is that?