Monday, May 28, 2012

The Venetian Connection

This image is quintessential Venice

     Venice - Water Reflections Author: Nino Barbieri, Wikimedia Commons

Like Hawaii, Venice is another well-known vacation destination.  What's the connection?  Simply water?  The destination part is a given.  At the same time in history that a group of people headed for Hawaii by boat, so did a group of Italian mainlanders head to what is now known now as the Republic of Venice.  Why did they go there? 
Venice was a safe haven; they were refugees. Groups of mainland Italians went to Venice to escape from conflicts and warring going on. They felt unprotected on the mainland.  I wonder if this is the reason Hawaii was settled―escape.

Unlike Hawaii with all its usable vegetation, Venice wasn’t an easy place to live because it was basically a swamp with all the accoutrements that swamps have―good and bad.  For example, there was plenty of fish to eat, but the mosquitoes were horrendous.  But, the best part was that invasion of these islets was much more difficult in the beginning.
Image: Venice in en:Italy on the Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation) of en:Piri ReisWikimedia Commons
Located in the Adriatic Sea off Northeast Italy, the Republic of Venice is a series of 118 flat islands called islets.  Because islets are subject to tidal changes, as in they can be submerged, structures could not be directly built on the “land.” Under Venetian buildings are literally millions of submerged wood pilings/piles used for footings.  Brick or stone is set above these pilings, then structures could be built on that layer. There were no roads, only foot paths and bridges connecting the islets.  And yes, even then the lagoons between the islets were navigable by boat. It is said that “Rome was not built in a day” neither, obviously, was Venice. Thus, the Venice lagoon community began to be settled in ca. 421 AD; the same timeframe as the Hawaiian Islands were being settled. 

Architecture is another art form. The following images are from ca. 1851 and ca.2004. The first image is indicative of the kind of damage constant moisture leaves behind.  Believe me, it was difficult to choose only two images!
Above is a Daguerreotype of a Byzantine quadrifora in the façade of the Casa degli Zane, Venice. The Casa degli Zane is located in the Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini, a small square just to the west of the Grand Canal in Venice. John Ruskin is known to have used daguerreotypes extensively in the preparation of his encyclopaedic account of Venetian architecture, The Stones of Venice, published in three volumes in 1851 and 1853. Source: Author: John Ruskin, Wikimedia Commons

   Palace Ca’ Da Mosto on the Grand Canal in Venice and Bollani Erizzo at extreme right, Author: User:Nino barbieri, Wikimedia Commons

Venice plays a very important role in art history and trade. There will be many more references and connections made to Venice as we move forward in art history.  Speaking of moving forward, there is now a bridge from the mainland to these islands.

Here's a preview. The next blog post will be about symbolism, particularly religious symbolism.  St. Mark is the Patron Saint of Venice; their flag still shows the symbol of St. Mark―a lion.

Image: Venice, the Serenissima Republic banner on a building in the Grand Canal, Wikimedia Commons

This is just a pittance of information on Venice.  Entire books are written on the subject and ready for you to explore on your own.  For example, are you wondering about Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice?”  Hmmmm.  Me too!  I’m sure the story he created has an affinity with real life in Venice. Art includes writing and theater also. There's so much to learn!

Mary B.

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