John Ruskin: The Stones of Venice - "Venetian Index" - A

 



1 Accademia delle Belle Arte

Notice above the door the two bas-reliefs of St. Leonard and St. Christopher, chiefly remarkable for their rude cutting at so late a date, 1377; but the niches under which they stand are unusual in their bent gables, and in the little crosses within circles which fill their cusps. The traveller is generally too much struck by Titian's great picture of the "Assumption," to be able to pay proper attention to the other works in this gallery. Let him, however, ask himself candidly, how much of his admiration is dependent merely upon the picture being larger than any other in the room, and having bright masses or red and blue in it; let him be assured, that the picture is in reality not one whit the better for being either large, or gaudy in colour; and he will then be better disposed to give the pains necessary to discover the merit of the more profound and solemn works of Bellini and Tintoret. One of the most wonderful works in the whole gallery in Tintoret's "Death of Abel," on the left of the "Assumption;" the "Adam and Eve," on the right of it, is hardly inferior; and both are more characteristic examples of the master, and in many respects better picture, than the much vaunted "Miracle of St. Mark." All the works of Bellini in this room are of great beauty and interest. In the great room, that which contains Titian's "Presentations of the Virgin," the traveller should examine carefully all the pictures by Vittor Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini, which represent scenes in ancient Venice; they are full of interesting architecture and costume. Marco Basaiti's "Agony in the Garden" is a lovely example of the religious school. The Tintorets in this room are all second rate, but most of the Veroneses are good, and the large ones are magnificent.

 

2 Alvise, Church of St.

I have never been in this church, but Lazari dates its interior, with decision, as of the year 1388, and it may be worth a glance, if the traveler has time.

 

3 Andrea, Church of St.

Well worth visiting for the sake of the peculiarly sweet and melancholy effect of its little grass-grown campo, opening to the lagoon and the Alps. The sculpture over the door, "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes," is a quaint piece of Renaissance work. Note the distant rocky landscape, and the oar of the existing gondola floating by St. Andrew's boat. The church is of the later Gothic period, much deface, but still picturesque. The lateral windows are bluntly trefoiled, and good of their time.

 

4 Angeli, Church degli, at Murano

The sculpture of the "Annunciation" over the entrance-gate is graceful. In exploring Murano, it is worth while to row up the great canal thus far for the sake of the opening to the lagoon.

 

5 Apostoli, Church of the

The exterior is nothing. There is said to be a picture by Veronese in the interior, "The Fall of the Manna." I have not seen it; but if it be of importance, the traveller should compare it carefully with Tintoret's, in the Scuola di San Rocco, and in San Giorgio Maggiore.
[1877. It is an imitation of that in San Giorgio, almost invisible, and not worth losing time upon.]

 

6 Apostoli, Palace at

On the Grand Canal, near the Rialto, opposite the fruit-market.
A most important transitional palace. Its sculpture in the first story is peculiarly rich and curious; I think Venetian, in imitation of Byzantine. The sea story and first floor are of the first half of the thirteenth century, the rest modern. Observe that only one wing of the sea story is left, the other half having been modernized.

See also Ca' da Mosto for the current state of the building

 

7 Arsenal

Its gateway is a curiously picturesque example of Renaissance workmanship, admirably sharp and expressive in it ornamental sculpture; it is in many parts like some of the best Byzantine work. The Greek lions in front of it appear to me to deserve more praise than they have received; though they are awkwardly balanced between conventional and imitative representation, having neither the severity proper to the one, nor the veracity necessary for the other.
[1877. No, there's no good in them; they are stupid work of the Greek decadence, - mere cumber of ground: but at least decently quiet, not strutting or sprawling or mouthing like lions of modern notion. Pacific at least - not insolent lumber. The traveller who cares for Turner should look with remembering attention at the internal angle of the Arsenal canal. Turner made its brick walls one flame of spiritual fire, in his mystic drawing of them, now in our National Gallery.]

 
Jan-Christoph Rößler