A WANDERER IN VENICE
BY E.V. LUCAS
WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR BY HARRY MORLEY AND THIRTY-TWO PHOTOGRAPHS FROM PAINTINGS AND A MAP
New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1914
All rights reserved
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1914.
Norwood Press: Berwick & Smith Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
"In like manner I say, that had there bin an offer made unto me before I took my journey to Venice, eyther that foure of the richest manors of Somerset-shire (wherein I was borne) should be gratis bestowed upon me if I never saw Venice, or neither of them if I should see it; although certainly these manors would do me much more good in respect of a state of livelyhood to live in the world than the sight of Venice, yet notwithstanding I will ever say while I live, that the sight of Venice and her resplendent beauty, antiquities, and monuments, hath by many degrees more contented my minde, and satisfied my desires, than those foure Lordships could possibly have done."—THOMAS CORYAT.
For a detailed guide to Venice the reader must go elsewhere; all that I have done is invariably to mention those things that have most interested me, and, in the hope of being a useful companion, often a few more. But my chief wish (as always in this series) has been to create a taste.
For the history of Venice the reader must also go elsewhere, yet for the sake of clarity a little history has found its way even into these pages. To go to Venice without first knowing her story is a mistake, and doubly foolish because the city has been peculiarly fortunate in her chroniclers and eulogists. Mr. H.F. Brown stands first among the living, as Ruskin among the dead; but Ruskin is for the student patient under chastisement, whereas Mr. Brown's serenely human pages are for all. Of Mr. Howells' Venetian Life I have spoken more than once in this book; its truth and vivacity are a proof of how little the central Venice has altered, no matter what changes there may have been in government or how often campanili fall. The late Col. Hugh Douglas's Venice on Foot, if conscientiously followed, is such a key to a treasury of interest as no other city has ever possessed. To Mrs. Audrey Richardson's Doges of Venice I am greatly indebted, and Herr Baedeker has been here as elsewhere (in the Arab idiom) my father and my mother.
THE BRIDE OF THE ADRIATIC 1
S. MARK'S. I: THE EXTERIOR 6
S. MARK'S. II: THE INTERIOR 17
THE PIAZZA AND THE CAMPANILE 31
THE DOGES' PALACE. I: THE INTERIOR 46
THE DOGES' PALACE. II: THE EXTERIOR 65
THE PIAZZETTA 78
THE GRAND CANAL. I: FROM THE DOGANA TO THE PALAZZO REZZONICO, LOOKING TO THE LEFT 91
THE GRAND CANAL. II: BROWNING AND WAGNER 100
THE GRAND CANAL. III: FROM THE RIO FOSCARI TO S. SIMEONE, LOOKING TO THE LEFT 110
THE GRAND CANAL. IV: FROM THE STATION TO THE MOCENIGO PALACE, LOOKING TO THE LEFT 119
THE GRAND CANAL. V: BYRON IN VENICE 130
THE GRAND CANAL. VI: FROM THE MOCENIGO PALACE TO THE MOLO, LOOKING TO THE LEFT 143
ISLAND AFTERNOONS' ENTERTAINMENTS. I: MURANO, BURANO AND TORCELLO 151
ON FOOT. I: FROM THE PIAZZA TO SAN STEFANO 162
THE ACCADEMIA. I: TITIAN, TINTORETTO, AND PAUL VERONESE 168
THE ACCADEMIA. II: THE SANTA CROCE MIRACLES AND CARPACCIO 179
THE ACCADEMIA. III: GIOVANNI BELLINI AND THE LATER PAINTERS 187
THE CANALE DI S. MARCO AND S. GIORGIO MAGGIORE 195
ON FOOT. II: THREE CHURCHES AND CARPACCIO AGAIN 206
ON FOOT. III: THE MERCERIA AND THE RIALTO 217
S. ROCCO AND TINTORETTO 231
THE FRARI AND TITIAN 245
SS. GIOVANNI E PAOLO 254
S. ELENA AND THE LIDO 263
ON FOOT. IV: FROM THE DOGAN TO S. SEBASTIANO 270
CHURCHES HERE AND THERE 279
ISLAND AFTERNOONS' ENTERTAINMENTS. II: S. LAZZARO AND CHIOGGIA 299
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
THE GRAND CANAL FROM THE STEPS OF S. MARIA DELLA SALUTE Frontispiece
S. MARK'S FROM THE PIAZZA. THE MERCERIA CLOCK ON THE LEFT Facing page 10
THE CAMPANILE AND THE PIAZZA FROM COOK'S CORNER " 28
THE CORNER OF THE OLD LIBRARY AND THE DOGES' PALACE " 54
THE PONTE DI PAGLIA AND THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS, WITH A CORNER OF THE DOGES' PALACE AND THE PRISON " 66
THE DOGANA (WITH S. GIORGIO MAGGIORE JUST VISIBLE) " 88
DOORWAY OF S. MARIA DELLA SALUTE " 112
THE RIALTO BRIDGE FROM THE PALAZZO DEI DIECI SAVII " 126
THE RIO TORRESELLE AND BACK OF THE PALAZZO DARIO " 152
TRAGHETTO OF S. ZOBENIGO, GRAND CANAL " 198
THE GRAND CANAL, SHOWING S. MARIA DELLA SALUTE " 218
S. MARIA GLORIOSA DEI FRARI " 228
THE COLLEONI STATUE AND SS. GIOVANNI E PAOLO " 240
THE PALAZZO PESARO (ORFEI), CAMPO S. BENEDETTO " 276
THE ARMENIAN MONASTERY AND THE LAGOON " 300
VIEW FROM THE DOGANA AT NIGHT " 308
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN MONOTONE
ONE OF THE NOAH MOSAICS. In the Atrium of S. Mark's Facing page 18 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE PRESENTATION. From the Painting by Titian in the Accademia " 36 From a Photograph by Brogi.
BACCHUS AND ARIADNE. From the Painting by Tintoretto in the Doges' Palace " 48 From a Photograph by Naya.
S. CHRISTOPHER. From the Fresco by Titian in the Doges' Palace " 62 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE ADAM AND EVE CORNER OF THE DOGES' PALACE " 70 From a Photograph by Naya.
S. TRIFONIO AND THE BASILISK. From the Painting by Carpaccio at S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni " 76 From a Photograph by Anderson.
S. JEROME IN HIS CELL. From the Painting by Carpaccio at S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni " 82 From a Photograph by Anderson.
THE MARRIAGE AT CANA. From the Painting by Tintoretto in the Church of the Salute " 96 From a Photograph by Anderson.
VENICE WITH HERCULES AND CERES. From the Painting by Veronese in the Accademia " 102 From a Photograph by Naya.
S. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM WITH SAINTS. From the Painting by Piombo in the Church of S. Giov. Crisostomo " 116 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE DREAM OF S. URSULA. From the Painting by Carpaccio in the Accademia " 120 From a Photograph by Brogi.
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST. From the Painting by Cima in the Church of S. Giovanni in Bragora " 136 From a Photograph by Anderson.
MADONNA AND SLEEPING CHILD. From the Painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Accademia " 144 From a Photograph by Naya.
VENUS, RULER OF THE WORLD. From the Painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Accademia " 158 From a Photograph by Anderson.
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN. From the Painting by Titian in the Accademia " 164 From a Photograph by Brogi.
THE MIRACLE OF S. MARK. From the Painting by Tintoretto in the Accademia " 170 From a Photograph by Anderson.
THE FEAST IN THE HOUSE OF LEVI. From the Painting by Veronese in the Accademia " 176 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE DEPARTURE OF THE BRIDEGROOM AND HIS MEETING WITH URSULA. From the Painting by Carpaccio in the Accademia " 182 From a Photograph by Naya.
S. GEORGE. From the Painting by Mantegna in the Accademia " 190 From a Photograph by Brogi.
MADONNA AND CHILD. From the Painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Accademia " 192 From a Photograph by Brogi.
MADONNA AND CHILD WITH SAINTS. From the Painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Church of S. Zaccaria " 208 From a Photograph by Naya.
S. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON. From the Painting by Carpaccio at S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni " 212 From a Photograph by Anderson.
S. CHRISTOPHER, S. JEROME AND S. AUGUSTINE. From the painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Church of S. Giov. Crisostomo " 224 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE CRUCIFIXION (CENTRAL DETAIL). From the Painting by Tintoretto in the Scuola di S. Rocco " 236 From a Photograph by Anderson.
THE MADONNA OF THE PESARO FAMILY. From the Painting by Titian in the Church of the Frari " 246 From a Photograph by Naya.
THE MADONNA TRIPTYCH. By Giovanni Bellini in the Church of the Frari " 252 From a Photograph by Naya.
BARTOLOMMEO COLLEONI. From the Statue by Andrea Verrocchio " 256 From a Photograph by Brogi.
MADONNA WITH THE MAGDALEN AND S. CATHERINE. From the Painting by Giovanni Bellini in the Accademia " 260 From a Photograph by Brogi.
MADONNA AND SAINTS. From the Painting by Boccaccino in the Accademia " 266 From a Photograph.
THE PRESENTATION. From the Painting by Tintoretto in the Church of the Madonna dell'Orto " 282 From a Photograph by Anderson.
THE TEMPEST. From the Painting by Giorgione in the Giovanelli Palace " 288 From a Photograph by Naya.
ALTAR-PIECE. By Giorgione at Castel Franco " 296 From a Photograph by Naya.
A WANDERER IN VENICE
THE BRIDE OF THE ADRIATIC
The best approach to Venice—Chioggia—A first view—Another water approach—Padua and Fusina—The railway station—A complete transformation—A Venetian guide-book—A city of a dream.
I have no doubt whatever that, if the diversion can be arranged, the perfect way for the railway traveller to approach Venice for the first time is from Chioggia, in the afternoon.
Chioggia is at the end of a line from Rovigo, and it ought not to be difficult to get there either overnight or in the morning. If overnight, one would spend some very delightful hours in drifting about Chioggia itself, which is a kind of foretaste of Venice, although not like enough to her to impair the surprise. (But nothing can do that. Not all the books or photographs in the world, not Turner, nor Whistler, nor Clara Montalba, can so familiarize the stranger with the idea of Venice that the reality of Venice fails to be sudden and arresting. Venice is so peculiarly herself, so exotic and unbelievable, that so far from ever being ready for her, even her residents, returning, can never be fully prepared.)
But to resume—Chioggia is the end of all things. The train stops at the station because there is no future for it; the road to the steamer stops at the pier because otherwise it would run into the water. Standing there, looking north, one sees nothing but the still, land-locked lagoon with red and umber and orange-sailed fishing-boats, and tiny islands here and there. But only ten miles away, due north, is Venice. And a steamer leaves several times a day to take you there, gently and loiteringly, in the Venetian manner, in two hours, with pauses at odd little places en route. And that is the way to enter Venice, because not only do you approach her by sea, as is right, Venice being the bride of the sea not merely by poetical tradition but as a solemn and wonderful fact, but you see her from afar, and gradually more and more is disclosed, and your first near view, sudden and complete as you skirt the island of S. Giorgio Maggiore, has all the most desired ingredients: the Campanile of S. Marco, S. Marco's domes, the Doges' Palace, S. Theodore on one column and the Lion on the other, the Custom House, S. Maria della Salute, the blue Merceria clock, all the business of the Riva, and a gondola under your very prow.
That is why one should come to Venice from Chioggia.
The other sea approach is from Fusina, at the end of an electric-tram line from Padua. If the Chioggia scheme is too difficult, then the Fusina route should be taken, for it is simplicity itself. All that the traveller has to do is to leave the train at Padua overnight—and he will be very glad to do so, for that last five-hour lap from Milan to Venice is very trying, with all the disentanglement of registered luggage at the end of it before one can get to the hotel—and spend the next morning in exploring Padua's own riches: Giotto's frescoes in the Madonna dell'Arena; Mantegna's in the Eremitani; Donatello's altar in the church of Padua's own sweet Saint Anthony; and so forth; and then in the afternoon take the tram for Fusina. This approach is not so attractive as that from Chioggia, but it is more quiet and fitting than the rush over the viaduct in the train. One is behaving with more propriety than that, for one is doing what, until a few poor decades ago of scientific fuss, every visitor travelling to Venice had to do: one is embarked on the most romantic of voyages: one is crossing the sea to its Queen.
This way one enters Venice by her mercantile shipping gate, where there are chimneys and factories and a vast system of electric wires. Not that the scene is not beautiful; Venice can no more fail to be beautiful, whatever she does, than a Persian kitten can; yet it does not compare with the Chioggia adventure, which not only is perfect visually, but, though brief, is long enough to create a mood of repose for the anticipatory traveller such as Venice deserves.
On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that there are many visitors who want their first impression of this city of their dreams to be abrupt; who want the transition from the rattle of the train to the peace of the gondola to be instantaneous; and these, of course, must enter Venice at the station. If, as most travellers from England do, they leave London by the 2.5 and do not break the journey, they will reach Venice a little before midnight.
But whether it is by day or by night, this first shock of Venice is not to be forgotten. To step out of the dusty, stuffy carriage, jostle one's way through a thousand hotel porters, and be confronted by the sea washing the station steps is terrific! The sea tamed, it is true; the sea on strange visiting terms with churches and houses; but the sea none the less; and if one had the pluck to taste the water one would find it salt. There is probably no surprise to the eye more complete and alluring than this first view of the Grand Canal at the Venetian terminus.
But why do I put myself to the trouble of writing this when it has all been done for me by an earlier hand? In the most popular of the little guide-books to Venice—sold at all the shops for a franc and twenty centimes, and published in German, English, and, I think, French, as well as the original Italian—the impact of Venice on the traveller by rail is done with real feeling and eloquence, and with a curious intensity only possible when an Italian author chooses an Italian translator to act as intermediary between himself and the English reader. The author is Signor A. Carlo, and the translator, whose independence, in a city which swarms with Anglo-Saxon visitors and even residents, in refusing to make use of their services in revising his English, cannot be too much admired, is Signor G. Sarri.
Here is the opening flight of these Two Gentlemen of Venice: "The traveller, compelled by a monotone railway-carriage, to look for hours at the endless stretching of the beautifull and sad Venetian plain, feels getting wear, [? near] this divine Queen of the Seas, whom so many artists, painters and poets have exalted in every time and every way; feels, I say, that something new, something unexpected is really about to happen: something that will surely leave a deep mark on his imagination, and last through all his life. I mean that peculiar radiation of impulsive energy issueing from anything really great, vibrating and palpitating from afar, fitting the soul to emotion or enthusiasm...."
Yesterday, or even this morning, in Padua, Verona, Milan, Chioggia, or wherever it was, whips were cracking, hoofs clattering, motor horns booming, wheels endangering your life. Farewell now to all!—there is not a wheel in Venice save those that steer rudders, or ring bells; but instead, as you discern in time when the brightness and unfamiliarity of it all no longer bemuse your eyes, here are long black boats by the score, at the foot of the steps, all ready to take you and your luggage anywhere for fifty per cent more than the proper fare. You are in Venice.
If you go to the National Gallery and look at No. 163 by Canaletto you will see the first thing that meets the gaze as one emerges upon fairyland from the Venice terminus: the copper dome of S. Simeon. The scene was not much different when it was painted, say, circa 1740. The iron bridge was not yet, and a church stands where the station now is; but the rest is much the same. And as you wander here and there in this city, in the days to come, that will be one of your dominating impressions—how much of the past remains unharmed. Venice is a city of yesterdays.
One should stay in her midst either long enough really to know something about her or only for three or four days. In the second case all is magical and bewildering, and one carries away, for the mind to rejoice in, no very definite detail, but a vague, confused impression of wonder and unreality and loveliness. Dickens, in his Pictures of Italy, with sure instinct makes Venice a city of a dream, while all the other towns which he describes are treated realistically.
But for no matter how short a time one is in Venice, a large proportion of it should be sacred to idleness. Unless Venice is permitted and encouraged to invite one's soul to loaf, she is visited in vain.
S. MARK'S. I: THE EXTERIOR
Rival cathedrals—The lure of S. Mark's—The facade at night—The Doge's device—S. Mark's body—A successful theft—Miracle pictures—Mosaic patterns—The central door—Two problems—The north wall—The fall of Venice—Napoleon—The Austrian occupation—Daniele Manin—Victor Emmanuel—An artist's model—The south wall—The Pietra del Bando—The pillars from Acre.
Of S. Mark's what is one to say? To write about it at all seems indeed more than commonly futile. The wise thing to do is to enter its doors whenever one has the opportunity, if only for five minutes; to sit in it as often as possible, at some point in the gallery for choice; and to read Ruskin.
To Byzantine architecture one may not be very sympathetic; the visitor may come to Venice with the cool white arches of Milan still comforting his soul, or with the profound conviction that Chartres or Cologne represents the final word in ecclesiastical beauty and fitness; but none the less, in time, S. Mark's will win. It will not necessarily displace those earlier loves, but it will establish other ties.
But you must be passive and receptive. No cathedral so demands surrender. You must sink on its bosom.
S. Mark's facade is, I think, more beautiful in the mass than in detail. Seen from the Piazza, from a good distance, say half way across it, through the red flagstaffs, it is always strange and lovely and unreal. To begin with, there is the remarkable fact that after years of familiarity with this wonderful scene, in painting and coloured photographs, one should really be here at all. The realization of a dream is always amazing.
It is possible—indeed it may be a common experience—to find S. Mark's, as seen for the first time, especially on a Sunday or fete day, when the vast red and green and white flags are streaming before it, a little garish, a little gaudy; too like a coloured photograph; not what one thinks a cathedral ought to be. Should it have all these hues? one asks oneself, and replies no. But the saint does not long permit this scepticism: after a while he sees that the doubter drifts into his vestibule, to be rather taken by the novelty of the mosaics—so much quieter in tone here—and the pavement, with its myriad delicate patterns. And then the traveller dares the church itself and the spell begins to work; and after a little more familiarity, a few more visits to the Piazza, even if only for coffee, the fane has another devotee.
At night the facade behaves very oddly, for it becomes then as flat as a drop scene. Seen from the Piazza when the band plays and the lamps are lit, S. Mark's has no depth whatever. It is just a lovely piece of decoration stretched across the end.
The history of S. Mark's is this. The first patron saint of Venice was S. Theodore, who stands in stone with his crocodile in the Piazzetta, and to whose history we shall come later. In 828, however, it occurred to the astute Doge Giustiniano Partecipazio that both ecclesiastically and commercially Venice would be greatly benefited if a really first-class holy body could be preserved in her midst. Now S. Mark had died in A.D. 57, after grievous imprisonment, during which Christ appeared to him, speaking those words which are incised in the very heart of Venice, "Pax tibi, Marce, evangelista meus"—"Peace be to thee, Mark my evangelist"; and he was buried in Alexandria, the place of his martyrdom, by his fellow-Christians. Why should not the sacred remains be stolen from the Egyptian city and brought to Venice? Why not? The Doge therefore arranged with two adventurers, Rustico of Torcello and Buono of Malamocco, to make the attempt; and they were successful. When the body was exhumed such sweetness proceeded from it that all Alexandria marvelled, but did not trace the cause.
The saint seems to have approved of the sacrilege. At any rate, when his remains were safely on board the Venetian ship, and a man in another ship scoffed at the idea that they were authentic, the Venetian ship instantly and mysteriously made for the one containing this sceptic, stove its side in, and continued to ram it until he took back his doubts. And later, when, undismayed by this event, one of the sailors on S. Mark's own ship also denied that the body was genuine, he was possessed of a devil until he too changed his mind.
The mosaics on the cathedral facade all bear upon the life of S. Mark. That over the second door on the left, with a figure in red, oddly like Anatole France, looking down upon the bed, represents S. Mark's death. In the Royal Palace are pictures by Tintoretto of the finding of the body of S. Mark by the Venetians, and the transportation of it from Alexandria, under a terrific thunderstorm in which the merchants and their camel are alone undismayed.
Arrived in Venice the remains were enclosed in a marble pillar for greater safety, but only two or three persons knew which pillar, and, these dying, the secret perished. In their dismay all the people grieved, but suddenly the stones opened and revealed the corpse. Thereafter many miracles were performed by it; Venice was visited by pilgrims from all parts of the world; its reputation as a centre of religion grew; and the Doge's foresight and address were justified.
Before, however, S. Mark and his lion could become the protectors of the Republic, S. Theodore had to be deposed. S. Theodore's church, which stood originally on a part of the Piazza (an inscription in the pavement marks the site) now covered by the Campanile and one or two of the flagstaffs, is supposed to have been built in the sixth century. That it was destroyed by fire in the tenth, we know, and it is known too that certain remains of it were incorporated in the present structure of S. Mark's, which dates from the eleventh century, having been preceded by earlier ones.
To my mind not one of the external mosaic pictures is worth study; but some of the mosaic patterns over the doors are among the most lovely things I ever saw. Look at the delicate black and gold in the arch over the extreme right-hand door. Look at the black and gold bosses in that next it. On the other side of the main entrance these bosses have a little colour in them. On the extreme left we find symbolism: a golden horseman, the emblems of the four Evangelists, and so forth, while above is a relief in black stone, netted in: this and the group over the central door being the only external statuary in Venice to which the pigeons have no access.
The carvings over the central door are interesting, although they have a crudity which will shock visitors fresh from the Baptistery doors at Florence. As in most Venetian sculpture symbolism plays an important part, and one is not always able to translate it. Here are arches within arches: one of scriptural incidents—at any rate Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel are identifiable; one of grotesques and animals; one of uncouth toilers—a shepherd and woodman and so forth—with God the Father on the keystone. What these mean beyond the broad fact that religion is for all, I cannot say. Angels are above, and surmounting the doorway is Christ. Among all this dark stonework one is conscious now and then of little pink touches which examination shows to be the feet of reposing pigeons.
Above is the parapet with the four famous golden horses in the midst; above them in the architrave over the central recess is S. Mark's lion with the open book against a background of starred blue. Then angels mounting to Christ, and on each side pinnacled saints. It is all rather barbaric, very much of a medley, and unforgettable in its total effect.
Two mysteries the facade holds for me. One is the black space behind the horses, which seems so cowardly an evasion of responsibility on the part of artists and architects for many years, as it was there when Gentile Bellini painted his Santa Croce miracle; and the other is the identity of the two little grotesque figures with a jug, one towards each end of the parapet over the door. No book tells me who they are, and no Venetian seems to know. They do not appear to be scriptural; yet why should they be when the Labours of Hercules are illustrated in sculpture on the facade above them?
The north facade of S. Mark's receives less attention than it should, although one cannot leave Cook's office without seeing it. The north has a lovely Gothic doorway and much sculpture, including on the west wall of the transept a rather nice group of sheep, and beneath it a pretty little saint; while the Evangelists are again here—S. Luke painting, S. Matthew looking up from his book, S. John brooding, and S. Mark writing. The doorway has a quaint interesting relief of the manger, containing a very large Christ child, in its arch. Pinnacled saints, with holy men beneath canopies between them, are here, and on one point the quaintest little crowned Madonna. At sunset the light on this wall can be very lovely.
At the end of the transept is a tomb built against the wall, with lions to guard it, and a statue of S. George high above. The tomb is that of Daniele Manin, and since we are here I cannot avoid an historical digression, for this man stands for the rise of the present Venice. When Lodovico Manin, the last Doge, came to the throne, in 1788, Venice was, of course, no longer the great power that she had been; but at any rate she was Venice, the capital of a republic with the grandest and noblest traditions. She had even just given one more proof of her sea power by her defeat of the pirates of Algiers. But her position in Europe had disappeared and a terrible glow was beginning to tinge the northern sky—none other than that of the French Revolution, from which was to emerge a Man of Destiny whose short sharp way with the map of Europe must disturb the life of frivolity and ease which the Venetians contrived still to live.
Then came Napoleon's Italian campaign and his defeat of Lombardy. Venice resisted; but such resistance was merely a matter of time: the force was all-conquering. Two events precipitated her fate. One was the massacre of the French colony in Verona after that city had been vanquished; another was the attack on a French vessel cruising in Venetian waters on the watch for Austrian men-of-war. The Lido fort fired on her and killed her commander, Langier. It was then that Napoleon declared his intention of being a second Attila to the city of the sea. He followed up his threat with a fleet; but very little force was needed, for Doge Manin gave way almost instantly. The capitulation was indeed more than complete; the Venetians not only gave in but grovelled. The words "Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus" on the lion's book on S. Mark facade were changed to "Rights of Man and of Citizenship," and Napoleon was thanked in a profuse epistle for providing Venice with glorious liberty. Various riots of course accompanied this renunciation of centuries of noble tradition, and under the Tree of Liberty in the Piazza the Ducal insignia and the Libro d'Oro were burned. The tricolour flew from the three flagstaffs, and the two columns in the Piazzetta were covered with inscriptions praising the French. This was in May, 1797.
So much for Venice under Manin, Lodovico. The way is now paved for Manin, Daniele, who was no relation, but a poor Jewish boy to whom a Manin had stood as godfather. Daniele was born in 1804. In 1805 the Peace of Pressburg was signed, and Venice, which had passed to Austria in 1798, was taken from Austria and united to Napoleon's Italian kingdom, with Eugene Beauharnais, the Emperor's brother-in-law, as ruler under the title Prince of Venice. In 1807 Napoleon visited the city and at once decreed a number of improvements on his own practical sensible lines. He laid out the Giardini Pubblici; he examined the ports and improved them; he revised the laws. But not even Napoleon could be everywhere at once or succeed in everything, and in 1813 Austria took advantage of his other troubles to try and recapture the Queen of the Adriatic by force, and when the general Napoleonic collapse came the restitution was formally made, Venice and Lombardy becoming again Austrian and the brother of Francis I their ruler.
All went fairly quietly in Venice until 1847, when, shortly after the fall of the Orleans dynasty in France, Daniele Manin, now an eloquent and burningly patriotic lawyer, dared to petition the Austrian Emperor for justice to the nation whom he had conquered, and as a reply was imprisoned for high treason, together with Niccolo Tommaseo. In 1848, on March 17, the city rose in revolt, the prison was forced, and Manin not only was released but proclaimed President of the Venetian Republic. He was now forty-four, and in the year of struggle that followed proved himself both a great administrator and a great soldier.
He did all that was humanly possible against the Austrians, but events were too much for him; bigger battalions, combined with famine and cholera, broke the Venetian defence; and in 1849 Austria again ruled the province. All Italy had been similarly in revolt, but her time was not yet. The Austrians continued to rule until Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel built up the United Italy which we now know. Manin, however, did not live to see that. Forbidden even to return to Venice again, he retired to Paris a poor and broken man, and there died in 1854.
The myriad Austrians who are projected into Venice every day during the summer by excursion steamers from Trieste rarely, I imagine, get so far as the Campo dominated by Manin's exuberant statue with the great winged lion, and therefore do not see this fine fellow who lived to preserve his country from them. Nor do they as a rule visit that side of S. Mark's where his tomb stands. But they can hardly fail to see the monument to Victor Emmanuel on the Riva—with the lion which they had wounded so grievously, symbolizing Italy under the enemy, on the one side, and the same animal all alert and confident, on the other, flushed with the assurance which 1866 brought, and the sturdy king riding forth to victory above. This they cannot well help seeing.
The little piazzetta on the north side of S. Mark's has a famous well, with two porphyry lions beside it on which small Venetians love to straddle. A bathing-place for pigeons is here too, and I have counted twenty-seven in it at once. Here one day I found an artist at work on the head of an old man—a cunning old rascal with short-cropped grey hair, a wrinkled face packed with craft, and a big pipe. The artist, a tall, bearded man, was painting with vigour, but without, so far as I could discern, any model; and yet it was obviously a portrait on which he was engaged and no work of invention. After joining the crowd before the easel for a minute or so, I was passing on when a figure emerged from a cool corner where he had been resting and held out his hand. He was a cunning old rascal with short-cropped grey hair, a wrinkled face packed with craft, and a big pipe; and after a moment's perplexity I recognized him as the model. He pointed to himself and nodded to the picture and again proffered his open palm. Such money as I have for free distribution among others is, however, not for this kind; but the idea that the privilege of seeing the picture in the making should carry with it an obligation to the sitter was so comic that I could not repulse him with the grave face that is important on such occasions. Later in the same day I met the artist himself in the waters of the Lido—a form of rencontre that is very common in Venice in the summer. The converse is, however, the more amusing and usually disenchanting: the recognition, in the Piazza, in the evening, in their clothes, of certain of the morning's bathers. Disillusion here, I can assure you.
On the south wall of S. Mark's, looking over the Molo and the lagoon, is the famous Madonna before whom two lights burn all night. Not all day too, as I have seen it stated. Above her are two pretty cherubs against a light-blue background, holding the head of Christ: one of the gayest pieces of colour in Venice. Justice is again pinnacled here, and on her right, on another pinnacle, is a charming angel, upon whom a lion fondlingly climbs. Between and on each side are holy men within canopies, and beneath is much delicate work in sculpture. Below are porphyry insets and veined marbles, and on the parapet two griffins, one apparently destroying a child and one a lamb. The porphyry stone on the ground at the corner on our left is the Pietra del Bando, from which the laws of the Republic were read to the people. Thomas Coryat, the traveller, who walked from Somerset to Venice in 1608 and wrote the result of his journey in a quaint volume called Coryat's Crudities, adds another to the functions of the Pietra del Bando. "On this stone," he says, "are laide for the space of three dayes and three nights the heads of all such as being enemies or traitors to the State, or some notorious offenders, have been apprehended out of the citie, and beheaded by those that have been bountifully hired by the Senate for the same purpose." The four affectionate figures, in porphyry, at the corner of the Doges' Palace doorway, came also from the East. Nothing definite is known of them, but many stories are told. The two richly carved isolated columns were brought from Acre in 1256.
Of these columns old Coryat has a story which I have found in no other writer. It may be true, and on the other hand it may have been the invention of some mischievous Venetian wag wishing to get a laugh out of the inquisitive Somerset pedestrian, whose leg was, I take it, invitingly pullable. "Near to this stone," he says, referring to the Pietra del Bando, "is another memorable thing to be observed. A marvailous faire paire of gallowes made of alabaster, the pillars being wrought with many curious borders, and workes, which served for no other purpose but to hang the Duke whensoever he shall happen to commit any treason against the State. And for that cause it is erected before the very gate of his Palace to the end to put him in minde to be faithfull and true to his country. If not, he seeth the place of punishment at hand. But this is not a perfect gallowes, because there are only two pillars without a transverse beame, which beame (they say) is to be erected when there is any execution, not else. Betwixt this gallowes malefactors and condemned men (that are to goe to be executed upon a scaffold betwixt the two famous pillars before mentioned at the South end of S. Mark's street, neare the Adriaticque Sea) are wont to say their prayers, to the Image of the Virgin Mary, standing on a part of S. Mark's Church right opposite unto them."
S. MARK'S. II: THE INTERIOR
Vandal guides—Emperor and Pope—The Bible in mosaic—The Creation of the world—Cain and Abel—Noah—The story of Joseph—The golden horses—A horseless city—A fiction gross and palpable—A populous church—The French pilgrims—Rain in Venice—S. Mark's Day—The procession—New Testament mosaics—S. Isidoro's chapel—The chapel of the Males—A coign of vantage—The Pala d'oro—Sansovino—S. Mark's treasures—The Baptistery—The good Andrea Dandolo—The vision of Bishop Magnus—The parasites.
Let us now enter the atrium. When I first did so, in 1889, I fell at once into the hands of a guide, who, having completed his other services, offered for sale a few pieces of mosaic which he had casually chipped off the wall with his knife somewhere in the gallery. Being young and simple I supposed this the correct thing for guides to do, and was justified in that belief when at the Acropolis, a few weeks later, the terrible Greek who had me in tow ran lightly up a workman's ladder, produced a hammer from his pocket and knocked a beautiful carved leaf from a capital. But S. Mark's has no such vandals to-day. There are guides in plenty, who detach themselves from its portals or appear suddenly between the flagstaffs with promises of assistance; but they are easily repulsed and the mosaics are safe.
Entering the atrium by the central door we come upon history at once. For just inside on the pavement whose tesselations are not less lovely than the ceiling mosaics—indeed I often think more lovely—are the porphyry slabs on which the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa asked pardon of Pope Alexander III, whom he had driven from Rome into an exile which had now brought him to Venice. The story has it that the great Emperor divested himself of his cloak of power and lay full length on these very stones; the Pope placed his foot on his neck, saying, "I will tread on the asp and the basilisk." The Emperor ventured the remark that he was submitting not to the Pope but to S. Peter. "To both of us," said Alexander. That was on July 24, 1177, and on the walls of the Doges' Palace we shall see pictures of the Pope's sojourn in Venice and subsequent triumph.
The vestibule mosaics are not easy to study, as the best are in the domes immediately overhead. But they are very interesting in their simple directness. Their authors had but one end in view, and that was to tell the story. As thorough illustrations they could not be overpraised. And here let me say that though Baedeker is an important book in Venice, and S. Mark's Square is often red with it, there is one even more useful and necessary, especially in S. Mark's, and that is the Bible. One has not to be a very profound Biblical student to keep pace, in memory, with the Old Masters when they go to the New Testament; but when the Old is the inspiration, as chiefly here, one is continually at fault.
The vestibule mosaics are largely thirteenth century. That is to say, they were being fixed together in these domes and on these walls when England was under the first Edwards, and long indeed before America, which now sends so many travellers to see them—so many in fact that it is almost impossible to be in any show-place without hearing the American accent—was dreamed of.
The series begins in the first dome on the right, with the creation of the world, a design spread over three circles. In the inner one is the origin of all things—or as far back as the artist, wisely untroubled by the question of the creation of the Creator, cared to go. Angels seem always to have been. In the next circle we find the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, birds, beasts, and fishes, and finally of man. The outer circle belongs to Adam and Eve. Adam names the animals; his rib is extracted; Eve, a curiously forbidding woman, rather a Gauguinesque type, results; she is presented to Adam; they eat the fruit; they take to foliage; they are judged; the leaves become real garments; they are driven forth to toil, Adam with an axe and Eve with a distaff.
On the sides is the story of Cain and Abel carried back to an earlier point than we are accustomed to see it. Later, to the altar Cain brings fruit and Abel a lamb; a hand is extended from heaven to the fortunate Abel while Cain sulks on a chair. The two brothers then share a sentry-box in apparent amity, until Cain becomes a murderer.
We next come, on the sides, to the story of Noah and the Tower of Babel. Noah's biography is vivid and detailed. We see him receiving Divine instruction to build the ark, and his workmen busy. He is next among the birds, and himself carries a pair of peacocks to the vessel. Then the beasts are seen, and he carries in a pair of leopards, or perhaps pumas; and then his whole family stand by while two eagles are inserted, and other big birds, such as storks and pelicans, await their turn. I reproduce this series. On the other side the rains have begun and the world is drowning. Noah sends out the dove and receives it again; the waters subside; he builds his altar, and the animals released from the ark gambol on the slopes of Ararat. The third series of events in the life of Noah I leave to the visitor to decipher. One of the incidents so captured the Venetian imagination that it is repeated at the eastern corner of the Ducal Palace lagoon facade.
The second dome tells the history of Abraham, and then three domes are given to the best story in the world, the story of Joseph. The first dome treats of his dream, showing him asleep and busy with it, and the result, the pit being a cylinder projecting some feet from the ground. Jacob's grief on seeing the coat of many colours is very dramatic. In the next we find Potiphar's wife, Joseph's downfall, and the two dreaming officials. The third tells of Joseph and Jacob and is full of Egyptian local colour, a group of pyramids occurring twice. On the wall are subsidiary scenes, such as Joseph before Pharaoh, the incident of Benjamin's sack with the cup in it, and the scene of the lean kine devouring the fat, which they are doing with tremendous spirit, all beginning simultaneously from behind.
The last dome relates the story of Moses, but it is by an inferior artist and does not compare with the others. The miracle of the manna on the wall is, however, amusing, the manna being rather like melons and the quails as large as pheasants. On the extreme left a cook is at work grilling some on a very open fire. Another inferior mosaic on the north side of the atrium, represents S. Christopher with his little Passenger. It is a pity that Titian's delightful version in the Doges' Palace could not have been followed.
The atrium is remarkable not only for its illustrations to Genesis. Its mosaic patterns are very lovely, and its carved capitals. The staircase to the left of the centre door of the church proper leads to the interior galleries and to the exterior gallery, where the golden horses are. Of the interior galleries I speak later. Let me say here that these noble steeds were originally designed and cast for a triumphal arch, to be driven by Victory, in honour of Nero. Filched from Rome by Constantine, they were carried to his own city as an ornament to the imperial hippodrome. In 1204 the great Doge Enrico Dandolo, having humiliated Constantinople, brought the horses to Venice as a trophy, and they were transferred to the service of the church. Here, above the central portal of the cathedral, they stood for nearly six centuries, and then in 1797 a more modern Constantine, one Napoleon, carried them to Paris, to beautify his city. In 1815, however, when there was a redistribution of Napoleonic spoils, back they came to Venice, to their ancient platform, and there they now are, unchanged, except that their golden skins are covered with the autographs of tourists.
One odd thing about them is that they and Colleoni's steed are the only horses which many younger and poorer Venetians have ever seen. As to the horselessness of Venice, the last word, as well as one of the first, in English, was written by our old friend Coryat in the following passage: "For you must consider that neither the Venetian Gentlemen nor any others can ride horses in the streets of Venice as in other Cities and Townes, because their streets being both very narrow and slippery, in regard they are all paved with smooth bricke, and joyning to the water, the horse would quickly fall into the river, and so drowne both himselfe and his rider. Therefore the Venetians do use Gondolaes in their streets insteede of horses, I meane their liquid streets: that is, their pleasant channels. So that I now finde by mine owne experience that the speeches of a certaine English Gentleman (with whom I once discoursed before my travels), a man that much vaunted of his observations in Italy, are utterly false. For when I asked him what principall things he observed in Venice, he answered me that he noted but little of the city, because he rode through it in post. A fiction, and as grosse and palpable as ever was coyned."
From the horses' gallery there is a most interesting view of the Piazza and the Piazzetta, and the Old Library and Loggetta are as well seen from here as anywhere.
Within the church itself two things at once strike us: the unusual popularity of it, and the friendliness. Why an intensely foreign building of great size should exert this power of welcome I cannot say; but the fact remains that S. Mark's, for all its Eastern domes and gold and odd designs and billowy floor, does more to make a stranger and a Protestant at home than any cathedral I know; and more people are also under its sway than in any other. Most of them are sightseers, no doubt, but they are sightseers from whom mere curiosity has fallen: they seem to like to be there for its own sake.
The coming and going are incessant, both of worshippers and tourists, units and companies. Guides, professional and amateur, bring in little groups of travellers, and one hears their monotonous informative voices above the foot-falls; for, as in all cathedrals, the prevailing sound is of boots. In S. Mark's the boots make more noise than in most of the others because of the unevenness of the pavement, which here and there lures to the trot. One day as I sat in my favourite seat, high up in the gallery, by a mosaic of S. Liberale, a great gathering of French pilgrims entered, and, seating themselves in the right transept beneath me, they disposed themselves to listen to an address by the French priest who shepherded them. His nasal eloquence still rings in my ears. A little while after I chanced to be at Padua, and there, in the church of S. Anthony, I found him again, again intoning rhetoric.
S. Mark's is never empty, but when the rain falls—and in Venice rain literally does fall—it is full. Then do the great leaden spouts over the facade pour out their floods, while those in the courtyard of the Doges' Palace expel an even fiercer torrent. But the city's recovery from a deluge is instant.
But the most populous occasion on which I ever saw S. Mark's was on S. Mark's own day—April 25. Then it is solid with people: on account of the procession, which moves from a point in front of the high altar and makes a tour of the church, passing down to the door of the Baptistery, through the atrium, and into the church again by the door close to the Cappella dei Mascoli. There is something in all Roman Catholic ceremonial which for me impairs its impressiveness—perhaps a thought too much mechanism—and I watched this chanting line of choristers, priests, and prelates without emotion, but perfectly willing to believe that the fault lay with me. Three things abide vividly in the memory: the Jewish cast of so many of the large inscrutable faces of the wearers of the white mitres; a little aged, isolated, ecclesiastic of high rank who muttered irascibly to himself; and a precentor who for a moment unfolded his hands and lowered his eyes to pull out his watch and peep at it. Standing just inside the church and watching the people swarm in their hundreds for this pageantry, I was struck by the comparatively small number who made any entering salutation. No children did. Perhaps the raptest worshipper was one of Venice's many dwarfs, a tiny, alert man in blue linen with a fine eloquent face and a great mass of iron-grey hair.
This was the only occasion on which I saw the Baptistery accessible freely to all and the door into the Piazzetta open.
One should not look at a guide-book on the first visit to S. Mark's; nor on the second or third, unless, of course, one is pressed for time. Let the walls and the floors and the pillars and the ceiling do their own quiet magical work first. Later you can gather some of their history. The church has but one fault which I have discovered, and that is the circular window to the south. Beautiful as this is, it is utterly out of place, and whoever cut it was a vandal.
But indeed S. Mark's ought to have a human appeal, considering the human patience and thought that have gone to its making and beautifying, inside and out. No other church has had much more than a tithe of such toil. The Sistine Chapel in Rome is wonderful enough, with its frescoes; but what is the labour on a fresco compared with that on a mosaic? Before every mosaic there must be the artist and the glass-maker; and then think of the labour of translating the artist's picture into this exacting and difficult medium and absolutely covering every inch of the building with it! And that is merely decoration; not structure at all.
There are mosaics here which date from the tenth century; and there are mosaics which are being renewed at this moment, for the prosperity of the church is continually in the thoughts of the city fathers. The earliest is that of Christ, the Virgin, and S. Mark, on the inside wall over the central door. My own favourites are all among the earlier ones. Indeed, some of the later ones are almost repulsively flamboyant and self-conscious. Particularly I like the great scene of Christ's agony high up on the right wall, with its lovely green and gold border, touched with red. But all the patterns, especially in the roof arches, are a delight, especially those with green in them. I like too the picture of Christ on a white ass in the right transept, with the children laying their cloaks in His way. And the naive scene of Christ's temptation above it, and the quaint row of disciples beneath it, waiting to have their feet washed.
Of the more modern mosaics the "Annunciation" and "Adoration of the Magi" are among the most pleasing.
There are some curious and interesting early mosaics in the chapel of S. Isidoro in the left transept. It is always dark in this tiny recess, but bit by bit the incidents in the pictures are revealed. They are very dramatic, and the principal scene of the saint's torture by being dragged over the ground by galloping horses is repeated in relief on the altar. I have failed to find any life of any S. Isidoro that relates the story. Note the little bronze lions on each side of the altar—two more for that census of Venetian lions which I somewhere suggest might be made. The little chapel on the left of S. Isidoro's is known as the Cappella dei Mascoli, or males, for hither come the young wives of Venice to pray that they may bring forth little gondoliers. That at any rate is one story; another says that it was the chapel of a confraternity of men to which no woman might belong. In the mosaic high up on the left is a most adorably gay little church, and on the altar are a pretty baby and angels. On a big pillar close to this chapel is a Madonna with a votive rifle hung by it; but I have been unable to find its story. It might be a moving one.
It is not detail, however lovely, for which one seeks S. Mark's, but general impressions, and these are inexhaustible. It is a temple of beauty and mystery in which to loiter long, and, as I have said, just by the S. Liberale in the gallery of the right transept, I made my seat. From this point one sees under the most favourable conditions the mosaic of the entry into Jerusalem; the choir; the choir screen with its pillars and saints; the two mysterious pulpits, beneath which children creep and play on great days; and all the miracle of the pavements. From here one can follow the Mass and listen to the singing, undisturbed by the moving crowd.
S. Mark's is described by Ruskin as an illuminated missal in mosaic. It is also a treasury of precious stones, for in addition to every known coloured stone that this earth of ours can produce, with which it is built and decorated and floored, it has the wonderful Pala d'oro, that sumptuous altar-piece of gold and silver and enamel which contains some six thousand jewels. More people, I guess, come to see this than anything else; but it is worth standing before, if only as a reminder of how far the Church has travelled since a carpenter's son, who despised riches, founded it; as a reminder, too, as so much of this building is, of the day when Constantinople, where in the eleventh century the Pala d'oro was made, was Christian also.
The fine carved pillars of the high altar's canopy are very beautiful, and time has given them a quality as of ivory. According to a custodian, without whom one cannot enter the choir, the remains of S. Mark still lie beneath the high altar, but this probably is not true. At the back of the high altar is a second altar with pillars of alabaster, and the custodian places his candle behind the central ones to illustrate their soft lucency, and affirms that they are from Solomon's own temple. His candle illumines also Sansovino's bronze sacristy door, with its fine reliefs of the Deposition and the Resurrection, with the heads of Evangelists and Prophets above them. Six realistic heads are here too, one of which is Titian's, one Sansovino's himself, and one the head of Aretino, the witty and licentious writer and gilt-edged parasite—this last a strange selection for a sacristy door. Sansovino designed also the bronze figures of the Evangelists on the balustrade of the choir stalls and the reliefs of the Doge's and Dogaressa's private pews.
There are two Treasuries in S. Mark's, One can be seen every day for half a franc; the other is open only on Fridays and the entrance fee is, I believe, five francs. I have not laid out this larger amount; but in the other I have spent some time and seen various priceless temporal indications of spiritual power. There is a sword of Doge Mocenigo, a wonderful turquoise bowl, a ring for the Adriatic nuptials, and so forth. But I doubt if such details of S. Mark's are things to write about. One should go there to see S. Mark's as a whole, just as one goes to Venice to see Venice.
The Baptistery is near the entrance on the left as you leave the church. But while still in the transept it is interesting to stand in the centre of the aisle with one's back to the high altar and look through the open door at the Piazza lying in the sun. The scene is fascinating in this frame; and one also discovers how very much askew the facade of S. Mark's must be, for instead of seeing, immediately in front, the centre of the far end of the square, as most persons would expect, one sees Naya's photograph shop at the corner.
The Baptistery is notable for its mosaic biography of the Baptist, its noble font, and the beautiful mural tomb of Doge Andrea Dandolo. Andrea, the last Doge to be buried within S. Mark's, was one of the greatest of them all. His short reign of but ten years, 1343 to 1354, when he died aged only forty-six, was much troubled by war with the Genoese; but he succeeded in completing an alliance against the Turks and in finally suppressing Zara, and he wrote a history of Venice and revised its code of laws. Petrarch, who was his intimate friend, described Andrea as "just, upright, full of zeal and of love for his country ... erudite ... wise, affable, and humane." His successor was the traitor Marino Faliero. The tomb of the Doge is one of the most beautiful things in Venice, all black bronze.
It was the good Andrea, not to be confused with old Henry Dandolo, the scourge of the Greeks, to whom we are indebted for the charming story of the origin of certain Venetian churches. It runs thus in the translation in St. Mark's Rest:—
"As head and bishop of the islands, the Bishop Magnus of Altinum went from place to place to give them comfort, saying that they ought to thank God for having escaped from these barbarian cruelties. And there appeared to him S. Peter, ordering him that in the head of Venice, or truly of the city of Rivoalto, where he should find oxen and sheep feeding, he was to build a church under his (S. Peter's) name. And thus he did; building S. Peter's Church in the island of Olivolo [now Castello], where at present is the seat and cathedral church of Venice.
"Afterwards appeared to him the angel Raphael, committing it to him, that at another place, where he should find a number of birds together, he should build him a church: and so he did, which is the church of the Angel Raphael in Dorsoduro.
"Afterwards appeared to him Messer Jesus Christ our Lord, and committed to him that in the midst of the city he should build a church, in the place above which he should see a red cloud rest: and so he did, and it is San Salvador.
"Afterwards appeared to him the most holy Mary the Virgin, very beautiful, and commanded him that where he should see a white cloud rest, he should build a church: which is the church of S. Mary the Beautiful.
"Yet still appeared to him S. John the Baptist, commanding that he should build two churches, one near the other,—the one to be in his name, and the other in the name of his father. Which he did, and they are San Giovanni in Bragora, and San Zaccaria.
"Then appeared to him the apostles of Christ, wishing, they also, to have a church in this new city: and they committed it to him that where he should see twelve cranes in a company, there he should build it."
Of the Baptistery mosaics the most scanned will always be that in which Salome bears in the head. In another the decapitated saint bends down and touches his own head. The scene of Christ's baptism is very quaint, Christ being half-submerged in Jordan's waves, and fish swimming past during the sacred ceremony. Behind the altar, on which is a block of stone from Mount Tabor, is a very spirited relief of S. George killing the dragon.
The adjoining chapel is that named after Cardinal Zeno, who lies in the magnificent central tomb beneath a bronze effigy of himself, while his sacred hat is in crimson mosaic on each side of the altar. The tomb and altar alike are splendid rather than beautiful: its late Renaissance sculptors, being far removed from Donatello, Mino, and Desiderio, the last of whom was one of the authors of the beautiful font in the adjoining Baptistery. Earlier and more satisfactory reliefs are those of an angel on the right of the altar and a Madonna and Child on the left which date from a time when sculpture was anonymous. The mosaics represent the history of S. Mark.
One may walk or sit at will in S. Mark's as long as one wishes, free and unharassed; but a ticket is required for the galleries and a ticket for the choir and treasury; and the Baptistery and Zeno chapel can be entered only by grace of a loafer with a key who expects something in return for opening it. The history of this loafer's privilege I have not obtained, and it would be interesting to learn by what authority he is there, for he has no uniform and he accepts any sum you give him. If all the hangers-on of the Roman Catholic Church, in Italy alone, who perform these parasitical functions and stand between man and God, could be gathered together, what a huge and horrible army it would be!
THE PIAZZA AND THE CAMPANILE
The heart of Venice—Old-fashioned music—Teutonic invaders—The honeymooners—True republicanism—A city of the poor—The black shawls—A brief triumph—Red hair—A band-night incident—The pigeons of the Piazza—The two Procuratie—A royal palace—The shopkeepers—Florian's—Great names—Venetian restaurants—Little fish—The old campanile—A noble resolve—The new campanile—The angel vane—The rival campanili—The welcome lift—The bells—Venice from the Campanile.
S. Mark's Square, or the Piazza, is more than the centre of Venice: to a large extent it is Venice. Good Venetians when they die flit evermore among its arcades.
No other city has so representative a heart. On the four musical nights here—afternoons in the winter—the Piazza draws like a magnet. That every stranger is here, you may be sure, and most Venetian men. Some sit outside Florian's and the other cafes; others walk round and round the bandstand; others pause fascinated beside the musicians. And so it has been for centuries, and will be. New ideas and fashions come slowly into this city, where one does quite naturally what one's father and grandfather did; and a good instance of such contented conservatism is to be found in the music offered to these contented crowds, for they are still true to Verdi, Wagner, and Rossini, and with reluctance are experiments made among the newer men.
In the daytime the population of the Piazza is more foreign than Venetian. In fact the only Venetians to be seen are waiters, photographers, and guides, the knots of errand boys watching the artists, and, I might add, the pigeons. But at night Venice claims it, although the foreigner is there too. It is amusing to sit at a table on the outside edge of Florian's great quadrangle of chairs and watch the nationalities, the Venetians, the Germans, the Austrians, and the Anglo-Saxons, as they move steadily round and round. Venice is, of course, the paradise both of Germans and Austrians. Every day in the spring and summer one or two steamers arrive from Trieste packed with Austrian tourists awfully arrayed. Some hundreds have to return to Trieste at 2 o'clock; other hundreds remain till night. The beautiful word Venezia, which we cheapen but not too cruelly to Venice and the French soften to Venise, is alas! to Teutonic tongues Venedig.
The Venetians reach the Square first, smart, knowing, confident, friendly, and cheerful; then the Germans and Austrians, very obviously trippers; and then, after their hotel dinners, at about quarter past nine, the English: the women with low necks, the men in white shirts, talking a shade too loud, monarchs of all they survey. But the honeymooners are the best—the solicitous young bridegrooms from Surbiton and Chislehurst in their dinner-jackets and black ties; their slender brides, with pretty wraps on their heads, here probably for the last or the first time, and so determined to appear Continental and tolerant, bless their hearts! They walk round and round, or sit over their coffee, and would be so happy and unselfconscious and clinging were it not for the other English here.
The fine republicanism of Venice is nowhere so apparent as on band nights. Such aristocrats as the city holds (and judging from the condition of the palaces to-day, there cannot be many now in residence) either look exactly like the middle classes or abstain from the Piazza. The prevailing type is the well-to-do citizen, very rarely with his women folk, who moves among street urchins at play; cigar-end hunters; soldiers watchful for officers to salute; officers sometimes returning and often ignoring salutes; groups of slim upright Venetian girls in the stately black shawls, moving, as they always do, like queens; little uniformed schoolboys in "crocodiles"; a policeman or two; a party from the country; a workman with his wife and babies (for though the Venetians adore babies they see no incongruity in keeping them up till ten o'clock); epauletted and cockhatted gendarmes; and at intervals, like ghosts, officials from the arsenal, often alone, in their spotless white linen.
Every type of Venetian is seen in the Square, save one—the gondolier. Never have I seen a gondolier there, day or night: not because it is too grand for him, but it is off his beat. When he has done his work he prefers the wine shops of his own sestiere. No thought of any want of welcome would deter him, for Venice is republic to the core. In fact one might go farther and say that it is a city of the poor. Where the poor lived in the great days when the palaces were occupied by the rich, one cannot quite understand, since the palace is the staple building; but there is no doubt as to where they live now: they live everywhere. The number of palaces which are wholly occupied by one family must be infinitesimal; the rest are tenements, anything but model buildings, rookeries. Venice has no aristocratic quarter as other cities have. The poor establish themselves either in a palace or as near it as possible.
I have referred to the girls in their black shawls or scialli. They remain in the memory as one of Venice's most distinguished possessions. A handsome young private gondolier in white linen with a coloured scarf, bending to the oar and thrusting his boat forward with muscular strokes, is a delight to watch; but he is without mystery. These girls have grace and mystery too. They are so foreign, so slender and straight, so sad. Their faces are capable of animation, but their prevailing expression is melancholy. Why is this? Is it because they know how secondary a place woman holds in this city of well-nourished, self-satisfied men? Is it that they know that a girl's life is so brief: one day as supple and active as they are now and the next a crone? For it is one of the tragedies that the Venetian atmosphere so rapidly ages women.
But in their prime the Venetian girls in the black shawls are distinguished indeed, and there was not a little sagacity in the remark to me by an observer who said that, were they wise, all women would adopt a uniform. One has often thought this, in London, when a nurse in blue or grey passes refreshingly along a pavement made bizarre by expensive and foolish fashions; one realizes it even more in Venice.
Most of these girls have dark or black hair. The famous red hair of Venetian women is rarely seen out of pictures.
Round and round goes the chattering contented crowd, while every table at each of the four cafes, Florian's and the Aurora, the Quadri and the Ortes Rosa, swells the noise. Now and then the music, or the ordinary murmur of the Square in the long intervals, is broken by the noisy rattle of a descending shop shutter, or the hour is struck by the Merceria clock's bronze giants; now and then a pigeon crosses the sky and shows luminous where the light strikes its breast; now and then a feather flutters from a window ledge, great bats flit up and down, and the mosquitoes shrill in one's ear. It is an entertainment never failing in interest to the observer, and not the least amusing question that one asks oneself is, Where does every one sleep?
I shall always remember one band night here, for it was then that I saw a girl and her father whose images will never leave me, I know not why. Every now and then, but seldom indeed, a strange face or form will thus suddenly photograph itself on the memory, when it is only with the utmost concentrated effort, or not at all, that we can call up mental pictures of those near and dear to us. I know nothing of these two; I saw them only once again, and then in just the same fugitive way; but if an artist were now to show me a portrait of either, I could point out where his hand was at fault. The band was playing the usual music—Il Trovatore or Aida or Lohengrin—and the crowd was circulating when an elderly man with a long-pointed grey beard and moustache and the peculiar cast of countenance belonging to them (Don Quixotic) walked past. He wore a straw hat slightly tilted and was smoking a cigar. His arm was passed through that of a tall slender girl of about his own height, and, say, twenty-five, in red. She was leaning towards him and he slightly inclined towards her. They walked faster than Venice, and talked animatedly in English as they passed me, and the world had no one in it but themselves; and so they disappeared, with long strides and a curious ease of combined movement almost like skillful partners in a dance. Two nights later I saw them again. This time she was in black, and again they sailed through the crowd, a little leaning towards each other, he again holding her arm, and again both discussing in English something with such interest that they were conscious of nothing around them. Sitting outside a cafe on the Piazza every evening for a month, one naturally sees many travellers come and go; but none other in that phantasmagoria left any mark on my mind. Why did these?
So much for S. Mark's Square by night. With thousands of persons, to think of S. Mark's Square by day is chiefly to think of pigeons. Many a visitor to Venice who cannot remember the details of a single painting there can show you a photograph of herself with pigeons on her shoulders and arms. Photographers and dealers in maize are here all day to effect these pretty conjunctions; but the Kodak has seriously impaired their profits. The birds are smaller than our London monsters and not quite so brilliantly burnished. How many there are I have no idea; but since they are sacred, their numbers must be ever increasing. Why they are sacred is something of a mystery. One story states that the great Enrico Dandolo had carrier-pigeons with him in the East which conveyed the grand tidings of victories to Venice; another says that the same heroic old man was put in possession of valuable strategic information by means of a carrier-pigeon, and on returning to Venice proclaimed it a bird to be reverenced. There was once a custom of loosing a number of pigeons among the crowd in the Piazza on Palm Sunday. The birds being weighted floundered downwards and were caught and killed for the pot; but such as escaped were held to have earned their liberty for ever.
At night no doubt the pigeons roost among S. Mark's statuary and on convenient ledges in the neighbourhood; by day, when not on the pavement of the Piazza, the bulk of the flock are dotted about among the reliefs of the Atrio, facing S. Mark's.
They have no timidity, but by a kind of honourable understanding they all affect to be startled by the bells at certain hours and the midday gun, and ascend in a grey cloud for a few seconds.
They are never so engaging as when flying double, bird and shadow, against the Campanile.
Their collective cooing fills the air and makes the Piazza's day music.
Venetians crossing the Piazza walk straight on, through the birds, like Moses crossing the Red Sea; the foreigners pick their way.
What with S. Mark's and the pigeons, the Campanile and coffee, few visitors have any time to inquire as to the other buildings of the Piazza. Nor are they of much interest. Briefly they are the Old Procuratie, which forms the side on which the clock is, the Atrio or Nuova Fabbrica opposite S. Mark's, and the New Procuratie on the Campanile side. The Old Procuratie, whose main row of windows I once counted, making either a hundred or a hundred and one, is now offices and, above, residences. Here once abode the nine procurators of Venice who, under the Doge, ruled the city.
The New Procuratie is now the Royal Palace, and you may see the royal lackeys conversing with the sentinels in the doorway by Florian's. It is the finer building: over the arches it has good sprawling Michael-Angelesque figures, noble lions' heads, and massive ornamentations.
I don't know for certain, but I should guess that the Royal Palace in Venice is the only abode of a European King that has shops underneath it. Wisely the sleeping apartments face the Grand Canal, with a garden intervening; were they on the Piazza side sleep would be very difficult. But all the great State rooms overlook the Piazza. The Palace is open on fixed days and shown by a demure flunkey in an English bowler hat, but it should be the last place to be visited by the sightseer. Its only real treasures—the Tintorettos illustrating the life of S. Mark—were not visible on the only occasion on which I ventured in.
Beneath these three buildings—the two Procuratie and the Fabbrica Nuova—runs an arcade where the Venetians congregate in wet weather and where the snares for tourists are chiefly laid by the dealers in jewellery, coral, statuary, lace, glass, and mosaic. But the Venetian shopkeepers are not clever: they have not the sense to leave the nibbler alone. One has not been looking in the window for more than two seconds before a silky-voiced youth appears at the door and begins to recommend his wares and invite custom; and then of course one moves away in terror.
Here, too, under the arcade, are the head-quarters of the cafes, which do most of their business on the pavement of the Square. Of these Florian's is the oldest and best. At certain hours, however, one must cross the Square to either the Ortes Rosa or Quadri, or be roasted. The original Florian was wise in his choice of site, for he has more shady hours than his rivals opposite. In an advertisement of the cafe in the musical programme it is stated that, "the oldest and most aristocratic establishment of its kind in Venice, it can count among its clients, since 1720, Byron, Goethe, Rousseau, Canova, Dumas, and Moor," meaning by Moor not Othello but Byron's friend and biographer, the Anacreon of Erin. How Florian's early patrons looked one can see in a brilliant little picture by Guardi in the National Gallery, No. 2099. The cafe boasts that its doors are never shut, day or night; and I have no doubt that this is true, but I have never tested it in the small hours.
Oddly enough there are no restaurants in the Piazza, but many about its borders on the north and west. The visitor to Venice, as a rule, eats in his hotel; and I think he is wise. But wishing to be in Venice rather more thoroughly than that, I once lived in rooms for a month and ate in all the restaurants in turn. Having had this experience I expect to be believed when I say that the restaurants of Venice are not good. The food is monotonous, and the waiting, even at what is called the best, the Bauer-Gruenwald, say, or the Pilsen, is leisurely. Add to this that the guests receive no welcome, partly because, all the places being understaffed, no one can be spared for that friendly office, and partly because politeness is not a Venetian foible. An immense interval then elapses before the lista, or bill of fare, is brought, partly because there is no waiter disengaged and partly because there seems to be a law in Venetian restaurants that one lista shall suffice for eight tables.
Then comes the struggle—to find anything new either to eat or drink. The lista contains in print a large number of attractive things, but few are obtainable, for on an Italian menu print is nothing: it is only the written words that have any relevance. The print is in Italian and German, the reason being that Italians, Germans, and Austrians are the only people who resort to restaurants. The English and Americans eat in their hotels, en pension. (In Venice, I might say, all foreigners are addressed first in German, except by the little boys in the streets whose one desire on earth is to direct you to S. Marco and be paid for their trouble. They call you m'soo.) Once a meal is ordered it comes rapidly enough, but one has to be very hungry to enjoy it. For the most part Venetian food is Italian food: that is to say, almost wholly veal and paste; but in the matter of fish Venice has her specialities. There are, for examples, those little toy octopuses which on my first visit, twenty-five years ago, used to be seen everywhere in baskets at corners, but now have disappeared from the streets. These are known as calamai or calamaretti, and if one has the courage to take the shuddering first step that counts they will be found to be very good. But they fail to look nice. Better still are scampi, a kind of small crawfish, rather like tenderer and sweeter langouste.
To the investigator I recommend the dish called variously frutta di mare and fritto misto, in which one has a fried jumble of the smaller sea creatures of the lagoon, to the scampi and calamaretti being added fresh sardines (which the fishermen catch with the hand at low tide), shrimps, little soles, little red mullets, and a slice or two of big cuttle fish. A popular large fish is the bronzino, and great steaks of tunny are always in demand too. But considering Venice's peculiar position with regard to the sea and her boasted dominion over it fish are very dear.
Even more striking is the dearness of fruit, but this, I take it, is due to the distance that it must come, either by rail or water. No restaurant that I discovered—as in the fair land of France and indeed elsewhere in Italy—places wine or grapes free on the table.
As I say, I tried all the Venetian houses, small and large—the Cappello Nero, the Bella Venezia, the Antico Panada, the Bauer-Gruenwald, the Bonvecchiato, the Cavalletti, the Pilsen; and the only one I felt any desire to return to was the Pilsen, which is large and noisy and intensely Teutonic, but a shade more attentive than the others. The Bella Venezia is the best purely Venetian house.
I cannot remember the old campanile with enough vividness to be sure, but my impression is that its brick was a mellower tint than that of the new: nearer the richness of S. Giorgio Maggiore's, across the water. Time may do as much for the new campanile, but at present its colour is not very satisfactory except when the sun is setting. Indeed, so new is it that one cannot think of it as having any association whatever with S. Mark's. If it belongs to anything it is to Venice as a whole, or possibly the Royal Palace. Yet one ought not to cavil, for it stands so bravely on the spot where its predecessor fell, and this is a very satisfactory proof that the Venetians, for all the decay of their lovely city and the disappearance of their marvellous power, are Venetians still.
The old campanile, after giving various warnings, fell on July 14, 1902, at half-past nine in the morning. On the evening of the same day the Town Council met, under the chairmanship of Count Grimani, the mayor, and without the least hesitation decided that a successor must be erected: in the fine words of the count: "Dov'era, com'era" ("Where it was and as it was"). Sympathy and contributions poured in from the outside world to strengthen the hands of the Venetians, and on S. Mark's Day (April 25), 1903, the first stone was laid. On S. Mark's Day, 1912, the new campanile was declared complete in every part and blessed in the presence of representatives of all Italy, while 2479 pigeons, brought hither for the purpose, carried the tidings to every corner of the country.
The most remarkable circumstance about the fall of the campanile is that no one was hurt. The Piazza and Piazzetta are by no means empty at half-past nine in the morning, yet these myriad tons of brick and stone sank bodily to the ground and not a human bruise resulted. Here its behaviour was better than that of the previous campanile of S. Giorgio Maggiore, which, when it fell in 1774, killed one monk and injured two others. Nor was S. Mark's harmed, although its sacristan confesses to have been dumb for three days from the shock. The falling golden angel from the top of the campanile was found in front of the central door as though to protect the church. Sansovino's Loggetta, it is true, was crushed and buried beneath the debris, but human energy is indomitable, and the present state of that structure is a testimony to the skill and tenacity which still inhabit Venetian hands and breasts.
What I chiefly miss in the new campanile is any aerial suggestion. It has actual solidity in every inch of it, apart from the fact that it also conveys the idea of solidity, as any building must which has taken the place of one so misguided as to fall down. But its want of this intangible quality, together with its newness, have displaced it in my eyes as the king campanile of Venice. In my eyes the campanile of S. Giorgio Maggiore now reigns supreme, while I am very much attached also to those of the Frari and S. Francesco della Vigna. But let S. Mark's campanile take heart: some day Anno Domini will claim these others too, and then the rivalry will pass. But as it is, morning, noon, and evening the warm red bricks and rich green copper top of S. Giorgio Maggiore's bell-tower draw the gaze first, and hold it longest. It is the most beautiful campanile of all, and its inevitableness is such that did we not know the truth we should wonder if the six days of creation had not included an afternoon for the ordainment of such edifices.
It would need a Hans Andersen to describe the feelings of the other Venetian campaniles when S. Mark's tall column fell. S. Giorgio's I imagine instantly took command, but no doubt there were other claimants to the throne. I rather fancy that the Frari's had something to say, and S. Pietro in Castello's also, on account of his age and his early importance; but who could pay any serious attention at that time to a tower so pathetically out of the perpendicular as he now is?
The new campanile endeavours to reproduce the old faithfully, and it was found possible to utilize a little of the old material. The figures of Venice on the east wall above the belfry canopy and Justice on the west are the ancient ones pieced together and made whole; the lions on the north and south sides are new. The golden angel on the summit is the old one restored, with the novelty, to her, as to us, of being set on a pivot to act as a vane. I made this discovery for myself, after being puzzled by what might have been fancied changes of posture from day to day, due to optical illusion. One of the shopkeepers on the Square, who has the campanile before his eye continually, replied, however, when I asked him if the figure was fixed or movable, "Fixed." This double duty of the new campanile angel—to shine in golden glory over the city and also to tell the wind—must be a little mortifying to her celestial sister on the campanile of S. Giorgio, who is immovable. But no doubt she has philosophy enough to consider subjection to the caprices of the breeze a humiliation.
Another change for which one cannot be too grateful is the lift. For the modest price of a franc one can be whirled to the belfry in a few seconds at any time of the day and refresh one's eyes with the city and the lagoon, the Tyrolese Alps, and the Euganean hills. Of old one ascended painfully; but never again. Before the fall there were five bells, of which only the greatest escaped injury. The other four were taken to a foundry set up on the island of Sant'Elena and there fused and recast at the personal cost of His Holiness the late Pope, who was Patriarch of Venice. I advise no one to remain in the belfry when the five are at work. They begin slowly and with some method; they proceed to a deafening cacophony, tolerable only when one is far distant.
There are certain surprises in the view from the campanile. One is that none of the water of the city is visible—not a gleam—except a few yards of the Grand Canal and a stretch of the Canale della Giudecca; the houses are too high for any of the by-ways to be seen. Another revelation is that the floor pattern of the Piazza has no relation to its sides. The roofs of Venice we observe to be neither red nor brown, but something between the two. Looking first to the north, over the three flagstaffs and the pigeon feeders and the Merceria clock, we see away across the lagoon the huge sheds of the dirigibles and (to the left) the long railway causeway joining Venice to the mainland as by a thread. Immediately below us in the north-east are the domes of S. Mark's, surmounted by the graceful golden balls on their branches, springing from the leaden roof, and farther off are the rising bulk of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, with its derivative dome and golden balls, the leaning tower of S. Maria del Pianto, and beyond this the cemetery and Murano. Beneath us on the east side is the Ducal Palace, and we look right into the courtyard and on to the prison roof. Farther away are the green trees of the Giardini Pubblici, the leaning tower of S. Pietro di Castello, and S. Nicholas of the Lido. In the south-east are the Lido's various hotels and the islands of S. Lazzaro (with the campanile) and S. Servolo. In the south is the Grand Canal with a Guardi pattern of gondolas upon it, criss-crossing like flies; then S. Giorgio's lovely island and the Giudecca, and beyond these various islands of the lagoon: La Grazia, S. Clemente, and, in the far distance, Malamocco. In the south-west the Custom House pushes its nose into the water, with the vast white mountain of the Salute behind it. In the west is the Piazza, immediately below, with its myriad tables and chairs; then the backs of the S. Moise statues; and farther away the Frari and its campanile, the huge telegraph-wire carriers of the harbour; across the water Fusina, and beyond in the far distance the jagged Euganean hills.
At sunset the landscape is sharpened and brought nearer. The deep blue of the real sea, beyond the lagoon, grows deeper; the great fields of mud (if it is low tide) gleam and glisten. And so it will ever be.
THE DOGES' PALACE. I: THE INTERIOR
Uningratiating splendour—Doges and Heaven—Venetian pride—The most beautiful picture of all—A non-scriptural Tintoretto—The Sala del Collegio—The Sala del Senato—More Doges and Heaven—The Council of Ten—Anonymous charges—Tintoretto's "Last Judgment"—An immense room—Tintoretto's "Paradiso"—Sebastiano Ziani and his exploits—Pope Alexander III and Barbarossa—Old blind Dandolo—The Crusades—Zara—The Fall of Constantinople—Marino Faliero and his fall—The first Doge in the room—The last Doge in the room—The Sala dello Scrutinio—Palma's "Last Judgment"—A short way with mistresses—The rest of the Doges—Two battle pictures—The Doges' suites—The Archaeological Museum—The Bridge of Sighs—The dungeons.
I have to confess to weariness in the Ducal apartments. The rooms are splendid, no doubt, and the pictures are monuments of energy; but it is the windows that frame the most delectable scenes. In Venice, where the sun usually shines, one's normal wish is to be out, except when, as in S. Mark's there is the wonder of dimness too. For Venice is not like other historic cities; Venice, for all her treasures of art, is first and foremost the bride of the Adriatic, and the call of the sea is strong. Art's opportunity is the dull days and rainy.