The schiavoni were Venice's Slav inhabitants, who had become so numerous and influential by the end of the 15th century that they could afford to build this scuola (or meeting house) by the side of their church, San Giovanni di Malta. The scuola houses one of Vittore Carpaccio's two great Venetian picture cycles. In 1502, eight years after completing his St Ursula cycle (now in the Accademia), Carpaccio was commissioned to paint a series of canvases illustrating the lives of the Dalmatian saints George, Tryphone and Jerome. In the tradition of the early Renaissance istoria (narrative painting cycle), there is a wealth of incidental detail, such as the decomposing virgins in St George and the Dragon, or the little dog in the painting of St Augustine in his Study (receiving the news of the death of St Jerome in a vision) - with its paraphernalia of humanism (astrolabe, shells, sheet music, archaeological fragments).
It's worth venturing upstairs to see what the meeting hall of a working scuola looks like. San Giorgio degli Schiavoni still provides scholarships, distributes charity and acts as a focal point for the local Slav community. The opening hours are notoriously changeable.