The Scuola Grande di San Rocco was one of the many “Scuole Grandi” in Venice, typically established by the church for charitable purposes. The “Great School” of San Rocco was founded in the 15th century by a group of Venetian aristocrats, although other schools in Venice at the time were more egalitarian - there was no rule against lower classes joining.
The structure of these “Great Schools” was similar from building to building, with a large meeting hall on the main floor and more private meeting rooms on the upper floor. The Scuola di San Rocco was founded in 1478, but the building to house the confraternity wasn’t complete until 1560. The building that is still known as the Scuola of San Rocco is next to the church of San Rocco, from which the society took its name.
The main draw of a visit to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco is to see the many paintings by the master Tintoretto. He was commissioned to decorate the new building with his works soon after it was complete, and he worked on the project from 1564-1587. Some of Tintoretto’s best-known works are in the Scuola of San Rocco, along with paintings by Titian.