This volume is the first of a series designed by the Author with the
purpose of placing in the hands of the public, in more serviceable form,
those portions of his earlier works which he thinks deserving of a
permanent place in the system of his general teaching. They were at
first intended to be accompanied by photographic reductions of the
principal plates in the larger volumes; but this design has been
modified by the Author's increasing desire to gather his past and
present writings into a consistent body, illustrated by one series of
plates, purchasable in separate parts, and numbered consecutively. Of
other prefatory matter, once intended,--apologetic mostly,--the reader
shall be spared the cumber: and a clear prospectus issued by the
publisher of the new series of plates, as soon as they are in a state of

The second volume of this edition will contain the most useful matter
out of the third volume of the old one, closed by its topical index,
abridged and corrected.


_3rd May_, 1879.



I. The Quarry

II. The Throne

III. Torcello

IV. St. Mark's

V. The Ducal Palace





SECTION I. Since the first dominion of men was asserted over the ocean,
three thrones, of mark beyond all others, have been set upon its sands:
the thrones of Tyre, Venice, and England. Of the First of these great
powers only the memory remains; of the Second, the ruin; the Third,
which inherits their greatness, if it forget their example, may be led
through prouder eminence to less pitied destruction.

The exaltation, the sin, and the punishment of Tyre have been recorded
for us, in perhaps the most touching words ever uttered by the Prophets
of Israel against the cities of the stranger. But we read them as a
lovely song; and close our ears to the sternness of their warning: for
the very depth of the Fall of Tyre has blinded us to its reality, and we
forget, as we watch the bleaching of the rocks between the sunshine and
the sea, that they were once "as in Eden, the garden of God."

Her successor, like her in perfection of beauty, though less in
endurance of dominion, is still left for our beholding in the final
period of her decline: a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak--so
quiet,--so bereft of all but her loveliness, that we might well doubt,
as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which
was the City, and which the Shadow.

I would endeavor to trace the lines of this image before it be for ever
lost, and to record, as far as I may, the warning which seems to me to
be uttered by every one of the fast-gaining waves, that beat, like
passing bells, against the STONES OF VENICE.

SECTION II. It would be difficult to overrate the value of the lessons
which might be derived from a faithful study of the history of this
strange and mighty city: a history which, in spite of the labor of
countless chroniclers, remains in vague and disputable outline,--barred
with brightness and shade, like the far away edge of her own ocean,
where the surf and the sand-bank are mingled with the sky. The inquiries
in which we have to engage will hardly render this outline clearer, but
their results will, in some degree, alter its aspect; and, so far as
they bear upon it at all, they possess an interest of a far higher kind
than that usually belonging to architectural investigations. I may,
perhaps, in the outset, and in few words, enable the general reader to
form a clearer idea of the importance of every existing expression of
Venetian character through Venetian art, and of the breadth of interest
which the true history of Venice embraces, than he is likely to have
gleaned from the current fables of her mystery or magnificence.

SECTION III. Venice is usually conceived as an oligarchy: She was so
during a period less than the half of her existence, and that including
the days of her decline; and it is one of the first questions needing
severe examination, whether that decline was owing in any wise to the
change in the form of her government, or altogether as assuredly in
great part, to changes, in the character of the persons of whom it was

The state of Venice existed Thirteen Hundred and Seventy-six years, from
the first establishment of a consular government on the island of the
Rialto, [Footnote: Appendix I., "Foundations of Venice."] to the moment
when the General-in-chief of the French army of Italy pronounced the
Venetian republic a thing of the past. Of this period, Two Hundred and
Seventy-six years [Footnote: Appendix II., "Power of the Doges."] were
passed in a nominal subjection to the cities of old Venetia, especially
to Padua, and in an agitated form of democracy, of which the executive
appears to have been entrusted to tribunes, [Footnote: Sismondi, Hist.
des Rep. Ital., vol. i. ch. v.] chosen, one by the inhabitants of each
of the principal islands. For six hundred years, [Footnote: Appendix
III., "Serrar del Consiglio."] during which the power of Venice was
continually on the increase, her government was an elective monarchy,
her King or doge possessing, in early times at least, as much
independent authority as any other European sovereign, but an authority
gradually subjected to limitation, and shortened almost daily of its
prerogatives, while it increased in a spectral and incapable
magnificence. The final government of the nobles, under the image of a
king, lasted for five hundred years, during which Venice reaped the
fruits of her former energies, consumed them,--and expired.

SECTION IV. Let the reader therefore conceive the existence of the
Venetian state as broadly divided into two periods: the first of nine
hundred, the second of five hundred years, the separation being marked
by what was called the "Serrar del Consiglio;" that is to say, the final
and absolute distinction of the nobles from the commonalty, and the
establishment of the government in their hands to the exclusion alike of
the influence of the people on the one side, and the authority of the
doge on the other.

Then the first period, of nine hundred years, presents us with the most
interesting spectacle of a people struggling out of anarchy into order
and power; and then governed, for the most part, by the worthiest and
noblest man whom they could find among them, [Footnote: "Ha saputo
trovar modo che non uno, non pochi, non molti, signoreggiano, ma molti
buoni, pochi migliori, e insiememente, _un ottimo solo_." (_Sansovino_,)
Ah, well done, Venice! Wisdom this, indeed.] called their Doge or Leader,
with an aristocracy gradually and resolutely forming itself around him,
out of which, and at last by which, he was chosen; an aristocracy owing
its origin to the accidental numbers, influence, and wealth of some among
the families of the fugitives from the older Venetia, and gradually
organizing itself, by its unity and heroism, into a separate body.

This first period includes the rise of Venice, her noblest achievements,
and the circumstances which determined her character and position among
European powers; and within its range, as might have been anticipated,
we find the names of all her hero princes,--of Pietro Urseolo, Ordalafo
Falier, Domenico Michieli, Sebastiano Ziani, and Enrico Dandolo.

SECTION V. The second period opens with a hundred and twenty years, the
most eventful in the career of Venice--the central struggle of her
life--stained with her darkest crime, the murder of Carrara--disturbed
by her most dangerous internal sedition, the conspiracy of
Falier--oppressed by her most fatal war, the war of Chiozza--and
distinguished by the glory of her two noblest citizens (for in this
period the heroism of her citizens replaces that of her monarchs),
Vittor Pisani and Carlo Zeno.

I date the commencement of the Fall of Venice from the death of Carlo
Zeno, 8th May, 1418; [Footnote: Daru, liv. xii. ch. xii.] the _visible_
commencement from that of another of her noblest and wisest children, the
Doge Tomaso Mocenigo, who expired five years later. The reign of Foscari
followed, gloomy with pestilence and war; a war in which large
acquisitions of territory were made by subtle or fortunate policy in
Lombardy, and disgrace, significant as irreparable, sustained in the
battles on the Po at Cremona, and in the marshes of Caravaggio. In 1454,
Venice, the first of the states of Christendom, humiliated herself to the
Turk in the same year was established the Inquisition of State,
[Footnote: Daru, liv. xvi. cap. xx. We owe to this historian the
discovery of the statutes of the tribunal and date of its establishment.]
and from this period her government takes the perfidious and mysterious
form under which it is usually conceived. In 1477, the great Turkish
invasion spread terror to the shores of the lagoons; and in 1508 the
league of Cambrai marks the period usually assigned as the commencement
of the decline of the Venetian power; [Footnote: Ominously signified by
their humiliation to the Papal power (as before to the Turkish) in 1509,
and their abandonment of their right of appointing the clergy of their
territories.] the commercial prosperity of Venice in the close of the
fifteenth century blinding her historians to the previous evidence of the
diminution of her internal strength.

SECTION VI. Now there is apparently a significative coincidence between
the establishment of the aristocratic and oligarchical powers, and the
diminution of the prosperity of the state. But this is the very question
at issue; and it appears to me quite undetermined by any historian, or
determined by each in accordance with his own prejudices. It is a triple
question: first, whether the oligarchy established by the efforts of
individual ambition was the cause, in its subsequent operation, of the
Fall of Venice; or (secondly) whether the establishment of the oligarchy
itself be not the sign and evidence, rather than the cause, of national
enervation; or (lastly) whether, as I rather think, the history of
Venice might not be written almost without reference to the construction
of her senate or the prerogatives of her Doge. It is the history of a
people eminently at unity in itself, descendants of Roman race, long
disciplined by adversity, and compelled by its position either to live
nobly or to perish:--for a thousand years they fought for life; for
three hundred they invited death: their battle was rewarded, and their
call was heard.

SECTION VII. Throughout her career, the victories of Venice, and, at
many periods of it, her safety, were purchased by individual heroism;
and the man who exalted or saved her was sometimes (oftenest) her king,
sometimes a noble, sometimes a citizen. To him no matter, nor to her:
the real question is, not so much what names they bore, or with what
powers they were entrusted, as how they were trained; how they were made
masters of themselves, servants of their country, patient of distress,
impatient of dishonor; and what was the true reason of the change from
the time when she could find saviours among those whom she had cast into
prison, to that when the voices of her own children commanded her to
sign covenant with Death. [Footnote: The senate voted the abdication of
their authority by a majority of 512 to 14. (Alison, ch. xxiii.)]

SECTION VIII. On this collateral question I wish the reader's mind to be
fixed throughout all our subsequent inquiries. It will give double
interest to every detail: nor will the interest be profitless; for the
evidence which I shall be able to deduce from the arts of Venice will be
both frequent and irrefragable, that the decline of her political
prosperity was exactly coincident with that of domestic and individual

I say domestic and individual; for--and this is the second point which I
wish the reader to keep in mind--the most curious phenomenon in all
Venetian history is the vitality of religion in private life, and its
deadness in public policy. Amidst the enthusiasm, chivalry, or
fanaticism of the other states of Europe, Venice stands, from first to
last, like a masked statue; her coldness impenetrable, her exertion only
aroused by the touch of a secret spring. That spring was her commercial
interest,--this the one motive of all her important political acts, or
enduring national animosities. She could forgive insults to her honor,
but never rivalship in her commerce; she calculated the glory of her
conquests by their value, and estimated their justice by their facility.
The fame of success remains; when the motives of attempt are forgotten;
and the casual reader of her history may perhaps be surprised to be
reminded, that the expedition which was commanded by the noblest of her
princes, and whose results added most to her military glory, was one in
which while all Europe around her was wasted by the fire of its
devotion, she first calculated the highest price she could exact from
its piety for the armament she furnished, and then, for the advancement
of her own private interests, at once broke her faith [Footnote: By
directing the arms of the Crusaders against a Christian prince. (Daru,
liv. iv. ch. iv. viii.)] and betrayed her religion.

SECTION IX. And yet, in the midst of this national criminality, we shall
be struck again and again by the evidences of the most noble individual
feeling. The tears of Dandolo were not shed in hypocrisy, though they
could not blind him to the importance of the conquest of Zara. The habit
of assigning to religion a direct influence over all _his own_ actions,
and all the affairs of _his own_ daily life, is remarkable in every great
Venetian during the times of the prosperity of the state; nor are
instances wanting in which the private feeling of the citizens reaches
the sphere of their policy, and even becomes the guide of its course
where the scales of expediency are doubtfully balanced. I sincerely trust
that the inquirer would be disappointed who should endeavor to trace any
more immediate reasons for their adoption of the cause of Alexander III.
against Barbarossa, than the piety which was excited by the character of
their suppliant, and the noble pride which was provoked by the insolence
of the emperor. But the heart of Venice is shown only in her hastiest
councils; her worldly spirit recovers the ascendency whenever she has
time to calculate the probabilities of advantage, or when they are
sufficiently distinct to need no calculation; and the entire subjection
of private piety to national policy is not only remarkable throughout the
almost endless series of treacheries and tyrannies by which her empire
was enlarged and maintained, but symbolized by a very singular
circumstance in the building of the city itself. I am aware of no other
city of Europe in which its cathedral was not the principal feature. But
the principal church in Venice was the chapel attached to the palace of
her prince, and called the "Chiesa Ducale." The patriarchal church,
[Footnote: Appendix 4, "San Pietro di Castello."] inconsiderable in size
and mean in decoration, stands on the outermost islet of the Venetian
group, and its name, as well as its site, is probably unknown to the
greater number of travellers passing hastily through the city. Nor is it
less worthy of remark, that the two most important temples of Venice,
next to the ducal chapel, owe their size and magnificence, not to
national effort, but to the energy of the Franciscan and Dominican monks,
supported by the vast organization of those great societies on the
mainland of Italy, and countenanced by the most pious, and perhaps also,
in his generation, the most wise, of all the princes of Venice,
[Footnote: Tomaso Mocenigo, above named, Section V.] who now rests
beneath the roof of one of those very temples, and whose life is not
satirized by the images of the Virtues which a Tuscan sculptor has placed
around his tomb.

SECTION X. There are, therefore, two strange and solemn lights in which
we have to regard almost every scene in the fitful history of the Rivo
Alto. We find, on the one hand, a deep, and constant tone of individual
religion characterizing the lives of the citizens of Venice in her
greatness; we find this spirit influencing them in all the familiar and
immediate concerns of life, giving a peculiar dignity to the conduct
even of their commercial transactions, and confessed by them with a
simplicity of faith that may well put to shame the hesitation with which
a man of the world at present admits (even if it be so in reality) that
religious feeling has any influence over the minor branches of his
conduct. And we find as the natural consequence of all this, a healthy
serenity of mind and energy of will expressed in all their actions, and
a habit of heroism which never fails them, even when the immediate
motive of action ceases to be praiseworthy. With the fulness of this
spirit the prosperity of the state is exactly correspondent, and with
its failure her decline, and that with a closeness and precision which
it will be one of the collateral objects of the following essay to
demonstrate from such accidental evidence as the field of its inquiry
presents. And, thus far, all is natural and simple. But the stopping
short of this religious faith when it appears likely to influence
national action, correspondent as it is, and that most strikingly, with
several characteristics of the temper of our present English
legislature, is a subject, morally and politically, of the most curious
interest and complicated difficulty; one, however, which the range of my
present inquiry will not permit me to approach, and for the treatment of
which I must be content to furnish materials in the light I may be able
to throw upon the private tendencies of the Venetian character.

SECTION XI. There is, however, another most interesting feature in the
policy of Venice which will be often brought before us; and which a
Romanist would gladly assign as the reason of its irreligion; namely,
the magnificent and successful struggle which she maintained against the
temporal authority of the Church of Rome. It is true that, in a rapid
survey of her career, the eye is at first arrested by the strange drama
to which I have already alluded, closed by that ever memorable scene in
the portico of St. Mark's, [Footnote:
                    "In that temple porch,
  (The brass is gone, the porphyry remains,)
  Did BARBAROSSA fling his mantle off,
  And kneeling, on his neck receive the foot
  Of the proud Pontiff--thus at last consoled
  For flight, disguise, and many an aguish shake
  On his stony pillow."

I need hardly say whence the lines are taken: Rogers' "Italy" has, I
believe, now a place in the best beloved compartment of all libraries,
and will never be removed from it. There is more true expression of the
spirit of Venice in the passages devoted to her in that poem, than in all
else that has been written of her.] the central expression in most men's
thoughts of the unendurable elevation of the pontifical power; it is true
that the proudest thoughts of Venice, as well as the insignia of her
prince, and the form of her chief festival, recorded the service thus
rendered to the Roman Church. But the enduring sentiment of years more
than balanced the enthusiasm of a moment; and the bull of Clement V.,
which excommunicated the Venetians and their doge, likening them to
Dathan, Abiram, Absalom, and Lucifer, is a stronger evidence of the great
tendencies of the Venetian government than the umbrella of the doge or
the ring of the Adriatic. The humiliation of Francesco Dandolo blotted
out the shame of Barbarossa, and the total exclusion of ecclesiastics
from all share in the councils of Venice became an enduring mark of her
knowledge of the spirit of the Church of Rome, and of her defiance of it.

To this exclusion of Papal influence from her councils, the Romanist
will attribute their irreligion, and the Protestant their success.
[Footnote: At least, such success as they had. Vide Appendix 5, "The
Papal Power in Venice."]

The first may be silenced by a reference to the character of the policy
of the Vatican itself; and the second by his own shame, when he reflects
that the English legislature sacrificed their principles to expose
themselves to the very danger which the Venetian senate sacrificed
theirs to avoid.

SECTION XII. One more circumstance remains to be noted respecting the
Venetian government, the singular unity of the families composing
it,--unity far from sincere or perfect, but still admirable when
contrasted with the fiery feuds, the almost daily revolutions, the
restless successions of families and parties in power, which fill the
annals of the other states of Italy. That rivalship should sometimes be
ended by the dagger, or enmity conducted to its ends under the mask of
law, could not but be anticipated where the fierce Italian spirit was
subjected to so severe a restraint: it is much that jealousy appears
usually unmingled with illegitimate ambition, and that, for every
instance in which private passion sought its gratification through
public danger, there are a thousand in which it was sacrificed to the
public advantage. Venice may well call upon us to note with reverence,
that of all the towers which are still seen rising like a branchless
forest from her islands, there is but one whose office was other than
that of summoning to prayer, and that one was a watch-tower only
[Footnote: Thus literally was fulfilled the promise to St. Mark,--Pax
e.] from first to last, while the palaces of the other cities of Italy
were lifted into sullen fortitudes of rampart, and fringed with forked
battlements for the javelin and the bow, the sands of Venice never sank
under the weight of a war tower, and her roof terraces were wreathed
with Arabian imagery, of golden globes suspended on the leaves of
lilies. [Footnote: The inconsiderable fortifications of the arsenal are
no exception to this statement, as far as it regards the city itself.
They are little more than a semblance of precaution against the attack
of a foreign enemy.]

SECTION XIII. These, then, appear to me to be the points of chief
general interest in the character and fate of the Venetian people. I
would next endeavor to give the reader some idea of the manner in which
the testimony of Art bears upon these questions, and of the aspect which
the arts themselves assume when they are regarded in their true
connection with the history of the state.

1st. Receive the witness of Painting.

It will be remembered that I put the commencement of the Fall of Venice
as far back as 1418.

Now, John Bellini was born in 1423, and Titian in 1480. John Bellini,
and his brother Gentile, two years older than he, close the line of the
sacred painters of Venice. But the most solemn spirit of religious faith
animates their works to the last. There is no religion in any work of
Titian's: there is not even the smallest evidence of religious temper or
sympathies either in himself, or in those for whom he painted. His
larger sacred subjects are merely themes for the exhibition of pictorial
rhetoric,--composition and color. His minor works are generally made
subordinate to purposes of portraiture. The Madonna in the church of the
Frari is a mere lay figure, introduced to form a link of connection
between the portraits of various members of the Pesaro family who
surround her.

Now this is not merely because John Bellini was a religious man and
Titian was not. Titian and Bellini are each true representatives of the
school of painters contemporary with them; and the difference in their
artistic feeling is a consequence not so much of difference in their own
natural characters as in their early education: Bellini was brought up
in faith; Titian in formalism. Between the years of their births the
vital religion of Venice had expired.

SECTION XIV. The _vital_ religion, observe, not the formal. Outward
observance was as strict as ever; and doge and senator still were
painted, in almost every important instance, kneeling before the Madonna
or St. Mark; a confession of faith made universal by the pure gold of
the Venetian sequin. But observe the great picture of Titian's in the
ducal palace, of the Doge Antonio Grimani kneeling before Faith: there
is a curious lesson in it. The figure of Faith is a coarse portrait of
one of Titian's least graceful female models: Faith had become carnal.
The eye is first caught by the flash of the Doge's armor. The heart of
Venice was in her wars, not in her worship.

The mind of Tintoret, incomparably more deep and serious than that of
Titian, casts the solemnity of its own tone over the sacred subjects
which it approaches, and sometimes forgets itself into devotion; but the
principle of treatment is altogether the same as Titian's: absolute
subordination of the religious subject to purposes of decoration or

The evidence might be accumulated a thousandfold from the works of
Veronese, and of every succeeding painter,--that the fifteenth century
had taken away the religious heart of Venice.

SECTION XV. Such is the evidence of Painting. To collect that of
Architecture will be our task through many a page to come; but I must
here give a general idea of its heads.

Philippe de Commynes, writing of his entry into Venice in 1495, says,--

"Chascun me feit seoir au meillieu de ces deux ambassadeurs qui est
l'honneur d'Italie que d'estre au meillieu; et me menerent au long de la
grant rue, qu'ilz appellent le Canal Grant, et est bien large. Les
gallees y passent a travers et y ay veu navire de quatre cens tonneaux
ou plus pres des maisons: et est la plus belle rue que je croy qui soit
en tout le monde, et la mieulx maisonnee, et va le long de la ville. Les
maisons sont fort grandes et haultes, et de bonne pierre, et les
anciennes toutes painctes; les aul tres faictes depuis cent ans: toutes
ont le devant de marbre blanc, qui leur vient d'Istrie, a cent mils de
la, et encores maincte grant piece de porphire et de sarpentine sur le
devant.... C'est la plus triumphante cite que j'aye jamais veue et qui
plus faict d'honneur a ambassadeurs et estrangiers, et qui plus
saigement se gouverne, et ou le service de Dieu est le plus
sollennellement faict: et encores qu'il y peust bien avoir d'aultres
faultes, si croy je que Dieu les a en ayde pour la reverence qu'ilz
portent au service de l'Eglise." [Footnote: Memoires de Commynes, liv.
vii. ch. xviii.]

SECTION XVI. This passage is of peculiar interest, for two reasons.
Observe, first, the impression of Commynes respecting the religion of
Venice: of which, as I have above said, the forms still remained with
some glimmering of life in them, and were the evidence of what the real
life had been in former times. But observe, secondly, the impression
instantly made on Commynes' mind by the distinction between the elder
palaces and those built "within this last hundred years; which all have
their fronts of white marble brought from Istria, a hundred miles away,
and besides, many a large piece of porphyry and serpentine upon their

On the opposite page I have given two of the ornaments of the palaces
which so struck the French ambassador. [Footnote: Appendix 6,
"Renaissance Ornaments."] He was right in his notice of the distinction.
There had indeed come a change over Venetian architecture in the
fifteenth century; and a change of some importance to us moderns: we
English owe to it our St. Paul's Cathedral, and Europe in general owes
to it the utter degradation or destruction of her schools of
architecture, never since revived. But that the reader may understand
this, it is necessary that he should have some general idea of the
connection of the architecture of Venice with that of the rest of
Europe, from its origin forwards.

SECTION XVII. All European architecture, bad and good, old and new, is
derived from Greece through Rome, and colored and perfected from the
East. The history of architecture is nothing but the tracing of the
various modes and directions of this derivation. Understand this, once
for all: if you hold fast this great connecting clue, you may string all
the types of successive architectural invention upon it like so many
beads. The Doric and the Corinthian orders are the roots, the one of all
Romanesque, massy-capitaled buildings--Norman, Lombard, Byzantine, and
what else you can name of the kind; and the Corinthian of all Gothic,
Early English, French, German, and Tuscan. Now observe: those old Greeks
gave the shaft; Rome gave the arch; the Arabs pointed and foliated the
arch. The shaft and arch, the frame-work and strength of architecture,
are from the race of Japheth: the spirituality and sanctity of it from
Ismael, Abraham, and Shem.

SECTION XVIII. There is high probability that the Greek received his
shaft system from Egypt; but I do not care to keep this earlier
derivation in the mind of the reader. It is only necessary that he
should be able to refer to a fixed point of origin, when the form of the
shaft was first perfected. But it may be incidently observed, that if
the Greeks did indeed receive their Doric from Egypt, then the three
families of the earth have each contributed their part to its noblest
architecture: and Ham, the servant of the others, furnishes the
sustaining or bearing member, the shaft; Japheth the arch; Shem the
spiritualization of both.

SECTION XIX. I have said that the two orders, Doric and Corinthian, are
the roots of all European architecture. You have, perhaps, heard of five
orders; but there are only two real orders, and there never can be any
more until doomsday. On one of these orders the ornament is convex:
those are Doric, Norman, and what else you recollect of the kind. On the
other the ornament is concave: those are Corinthian, Early English,
Decorated, and what else you recollect of that kind. The transitional
form, in which the ornamental line is straight, is the centre or root of
both. All other orders are varieties of those, or phantasms and
grotesques altogether indefinite in number and species. [Footnote:
Appendix 7, "Varieties of the Orders."]

SECTION XX. This Greek architecture, then, with its two orders, was
clumsily copied and varied by the Romans with no particular result,
until they begun to bring the arch into extensive practical service;
except only that the Doric capital was spoiled in endeavors to mend it,
and the Corinthian much varied and enriched with fanciful, and often
very beautiful imagery. And in this state of things came Christianity:
seized upon the arch as her own; decorated it, and delighted in it;
invented a new Doric capital to replace the spoiled Roman one: and all
over the Roman empire set to work, with such materials as were nearest
at hand, to express and adorn herself as best she could. This Roman
Christian architecture is the exact expression of the Christianity of
the time, very fervid and beautiful--but very imperfect; in many
respects ignorant, and yet radiant with a strong, childlike light of
imagination, which flames up under Constantine, illumines all the shores
of the Bosphorus and the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea, and then
gradually, as the people give themselves up to idolatry, becomes
Corpse-light. The architecture sinks into a settled form--a strange,
gilded, and embalmed repose: it, with the religion it expressed; and so
would have remained for ever,--so _does_ remain, where its languor has
been undisturbed. [Footnote: The reader will find the _weak_ points of
Byzantine architecture shrewdly seized, and exquisitely sketched, in the
opening chapter of the most delightful book of travels I ever opened,--
Curzon's "Monasteries of the Levant."] But rough wakening was ordained.

Section XXI. This Christian art of the declining empire is divided into
two great branches, western and eastern; one centred at Rome, the other
at Byzantium, of which the one is the early Christian Romanesque,
properly so called, and the other, carried to higher imaginative
perfection by Greek workmen, is distinguished from it as Byzantine. But
I wish the reader, for the present, to class these two branches of art
together in his mind, they being, in points of main importance, the
same; that is to say, both of them a true continuance and sequence of
the art of old Rome itself, flowing uninterruptedly down from the
fountain-head, and entrusted always to the best workmen who could be
found--Latins in Italy and Greeks in Greece; and thus both branches may
be ranged under the general term of Christian Romanesque, an
architecture which had lost the refinement of Pagan art in the
degradation of the empire, but which was elevated by Christianity to
higher aims, and by the fancy of the Greek workmen endowed with brighter
forms. And this art the reader may conceive as extending in its various
branches over all the central provinces of the empire, taking aspects
more or less refined, according to its proximity to the seats of
government; dependent for all its power on the vigor and freshness of
the religion which animated it; and as that vigor and purity departed,
losing its own vitality, and sinking into nerveless rest, not deprived
of its beauty, but benumbed and incapable of advance or change.

SECTION XXII. Meantime there had been preparation for its renewal. While
in Rome and Constantinople, and in the districts under their immediate
influence, this Roman art of pure descent was practised in all its
refinement, an impure form of it--a patois of Romanesque--was carried by
inferior workmen into distant provinces; and still ruder imitations of
this patois were executed by the barbarous nations on the skirts of the
empire. But these barbarous nations were in the strength of their youth;
and while, in the centre of Europe, a refined and purely descended art
was sinking into graceful formalism, on its confines a barbarous and
borrowed art was organizing itself into strength and consistency. The
reader must therefore consider the history of the work of the period as
broadly divided into two great heads: the one embracing the elaborately
languid succession of the Christian art of Rome; and the other, the
imitations of it executed by nations in every conceivable phase of early
organization, on the edges of the empire, or included in its now merely
nominal extent.

SECTION XXIII. Some of the barbaric nations were, of course, not
susceptible of this influence; and when they burst over the Alps,
appear, like the Huns, as scourges only, or mix, as the Ostrogoths, with
the enervated Italians, and give physical strength to the mass with
which they mingle, without materially affecting its intellectual
character. But others, both south and north of the empire, had felt its
influence, back to the beach of the Indian Ocean on the one hand, and to
the ice creeks of the North Sea on the other. On the north and west the
influence was of the Latins; on the south and east, of the Greeks. Two
nations, pre-eminent above all the rest, represent to us the force of
derived mind on either side. As the central power is eclipsed, the orbs
of reflected light gather into their fulness; and when sensuality and
idolatry had done their work, and the religion of the empire was laid
asleep in a glittering sepulchre, the living light rose upon both
horizons, and the fierce swords of the Lombard and Arab were shaken over
its golden paralysis.

SECTION XXIV. The work of the Lombard was to give hardihood and system
to the enervated body and enfeebled mind of Christendom; that of the
Arab was to punish idolatry, and to proclaim the spirituality of
worship. The Lombard covered every church which he built with the
sculptured representations of bodily exercises--hunting and war.
[Footnote: Appendix 8, "The Northern Energy."] The Arab banished all
imagination of creature form from his temples, and proclaimed from their
minarets, "There is no god but God." Opposite in their character and
mission, alike in their magnificence of energy, they came from the
North, and from the South, the glacier torrent and the lava stream: they
met and contended over the wreck of the Roman empire; and the very
centre of the struggle, the point of pause of both, the dead water of
the opposite eddies, charged with embayed fragments of the Roman wreck,

The Ducal palace of Venice contains the three elements in exactly equal
proportions--the Roman, Lombard, and Arab. It is the central building of
the world.

SECTION XXV. The reader will now begin to understand something of the
importance of the study of the edifices of a city which includes, within
the circuit of some seven or eight miles, the field of contest between
the three pre-eminent architectures of the world:--each architecture
expressing a condition of religion; each an erroneous condition, yet
necessary to the correction of the others, and corrected by them.

SECTION XXVI. It will be part of my endeavor, in the following work, to
mark the various modes in which the northern and southern architectures
were developed from the Roman: here I must pause only to name the
distinguishing characteristics of the great families. The Christian
Roman and Byzantine work is round-arched, with single and
well-proportioned shafts; capitals imitated from classical Roman;
mouldings more or less so; and large surfaces of walls entirely covered
with imagery, mosaic, and paintings, whether of scripture history or of
sacred symbols.

The Arab school is at first the same in its principal features, the
Byzantine workmen being employed by the caliphs; but the Arab rapidly
introduces characters half Persepolitan, half Egyptian, into the shafts
and capitals: in his intense love of excitement he points the arch and
writhes it into extravagant foliations; he banishes the animal imagery,
and invents an ornamentation of his own (called Arabesque) to replace
it: this not being adapted for covering large surfaces, he concentrates
it on features of interest, and bars his surfaces with horizontal lines
of color, the expression of the level of the Desert. He retains the
dome, and adds the minaret. All is done with exquisite refinement.

SECTION XXVII. The changes effected by the Lombard are more curious
still, for they are in the anatomy of the building, more than its
decoration. The Lombard architecture represents, as I said, the whole of
that of the northern barbaric nations. And this I believe was, at first,
an imitation in wood of the Christian Roman churches or basilicas.
Without staying to examine the whole structure of a basilica, the reader
will easily understand thus much of it: that it had a nave and two
aisles, the nave much higher than the aisles; that the nave was
separated from the aisles by rows of shafts, which supported, above,
large spaces of flat or dead wall, rising above the aisles, and forming
the upper part of the nave, now called the clerestory, which had a
gabled wooden roof.

These high dead walls were, in Roman work, built of stone; but in the
wooden work of the North, they must necessarily have been made of
horizontal boards or timbers attached to uprights on the top of the nave
pillars, which were themselves also of wood. [Footnote: Appendix 9,
"Wooden Churches of the North."] Now, these uprights were necessarily
thicker than the rest of the timbers, and formed vertical square
pilasters above the nave piers. As Christianity extended and
civilization increased, these wooden structures were changed into stone;
but they were literally petrified, retaining the form which had been
made necessary by their being of wood. The upright pilaster above the
nave pier remains in the stone edifice, and is the first form of the
great distinctive feature of Northern architecture--the vaulting shaft.
In that form the Lombards brought it into Italy, in the seventh century,
and it remains to this day in St. Ambrogio of Milan, and St. Michele of

SECTION XXVIII. When the vaulting shaft was introduced in the clerestory
walls, additional members were added for its support to the nave piers.
Perhaps two or three pine trunks, used for a single pillar, gave the
first idea of the grouped shaft. Be that as it may, the arrangement of
the nave pier in the form of a cross accompanies the superimposition of
the vaulting shaft; together with corresponding grouping of minor shafts
in doorways and apertures of windows. Thus, the whole body of the
Northern architecture, represented by that of the Lombards, may be
described as rough but majestic work, round-arched, with grouped shafts,
added vaulting shafts, and endless imagery of active life and fantastic

SECTION XXIX. The glacier stream of the Lombards, and the following one
of the Normans, left their erratic blocks, wherever they had flowed; but
without influencing, I think, the Southern nations beyond the sphere of
their own presence. But the lava stream of the Arab, even after it
ceased to flow, warmed the whole of the Northern air; and the history of
Gothic architecture is the history of the refinement and
spiritualization of Northern work under its influence. The noblest
buildings of the world, the Pisan-Romanesque, Tuscan (Giottesque)
Gothic, and Veronese Gothic, are those of the Lombard schools
themselves, under its close and direct influence; the various Gothics of
the North are the original forms of the architecture which the Lombards
brought into Italy, changing under the less direct influence of the

SECTION XXX. Understanding thus much of the formation of the great
European styles, we shall have no difficulty in tracing the succession
of architectures in Venice herself. From what I said of the central
character of Venetian art, the reader is not, of course, to conclude
that the Roman, Northern, and Arabian elements met together and
contended for the mastery at the same period. The earliest element was
the pure Christian Roman; but few, if any, remains of this art exist at
Venice; for the present city was in the earliest times only one of many
settlements formed on the chain of marshy islands which extend from the
mouths of the Isonzo to those of the Adige, and it was not until the
beginning of the ninth century that it became the seat of government;
while the cathedral of Torcello, though Christian Roman in general form,
was rebuilt in the eleventh century, and shows evidence of Byzantine
workmanship in many of its details. This cathedral, however, with the
church of Santa Fosca at Torcello, San Giacomo di Rialto at Venice, and
the crypt of St. Mark's, forms a distinct group of buildings, in which
the Byzantine influence is exceedingly slight; and which is probably
very sufficiently representative of the earliest architecture on the

SECTION XXXI. The Ducal residence was removed to Venice in 809, and the
body of St. Mark was brought from Alexandria twenty years later. The
first church of St. Mark's was, doubtless, built in imitation of that
destroyed at Alexandria, and from which the relics of the saint had been
obtained. During the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, the
architecture of Venice seems to have been formed on the same model, and
is almost identical with that of Cairo under the caliphs, [Footnote:
Appendix 10, "Church of Alexandria."] it being quite immaterial whether
the reader chooses to call both Byzantine or both Arabic; the workmen
being certainly Byzantine, but forced to the invention of new forms by
their Arabian masters, and bringing these forms into use in whatever
other parts of the world they were employed.

To this first manner of Venetian architecture, together with such
vestiges as remain of the Christian Roman, I shall devote the first
division of the following inquiry. The examples remaining of it consist
of three noble churches (those of Torcello, Murano, and the greater part
of St. Mark's), and about ten or twelve fragments of palaces.

SECTION XXXII. To this style succeeds a transitional one, of a character
much more distinctly Arabian: the shafts become more slender, and the
arches consistently pointed, instead of round; certain other changes,
not to be enumerated in a sentence, taking place in the capitals and
mouldings. This style is almost exclusively secular. It was natural for
the Venetians to imitate the beautiful details of the Arabian
dwelling-house, while they would with reluctance adopt those of the
mosque for Christian churches.

I have not succeeded in fixing limiting dates for this style. It appears
in part contemporary with the Byzantine manner, but outlives it. Its
position is, however, fixed by the central date, 1180, that of the
elevation of the granite shafts of the Piazetta, whose capitals are the
two most important pieces of detail in this transitional style in
Venice. Examples of its application to domestic buildings exist in
almost every street of the city, and will form the subject of the second
division of the following essay.

SECTION XXXIII. The Venetians were always ready to receive lessons in
art from their enemies (else had there been no Arab work in Venice). But
their especial dread and hatred of the Lombards appears to have long
prevented them from receiving the influence of the art which that people
had introduced on the mainland of Italy. Nevertheless, during the
practice of the two styles above distinguished, a peculiar and very
primitive condition of pointed Gothic had arisen in ecclesiastical
architecture. It appears to be a feeble reflection of the Lombard-Arab
forms, which were attaining perfection upon the continent, and would
probably, if left to itself, have been soon merged in the Venetian-Arab
school, with which it had from the first so close a fellowship, that it
will be found difficult to distinguish the Arabian ogives from those
which seem to have been built under this early Gothic influence. The
churches of San Giacopo dell' Orio, San Giovanni in Bragora, the
Carmine, and one or two more, furnish the only important examples of it.
But, in the thirteenth century, the Franciscans and Dominicans
introduced from the continent their morality and their architecture,
already a distinct Gothic, curiously developed from Lombardic and
Northern (German?) forms; and the influence of the principles exhibited
in the vast churches of St. Paul and the Frari began rapidly to affect
the Venetian-Arab school. Still the two systems never became united; the
Venetian policy repressed the power of the church, and the Venetian
artists resisted its example; and thenceforward the architecture of the
city becomes divided into ecclesiastical and civil: the one an
ungraceful yet powerful form of the Western Gothic, common to the whole
peninsula, and only showing Venetian sympathies in the adoption of
certain characteristic mouldings; the other a rich, luxuriant, and
entirely original Gothic, formed from the Venetian-Arab by the influence
of the Dominican and Franciscan architecture, and especially by the
engrafting upon the Arab forms of the most novel feature of the
Franciscan work, its traceries. These various forms of Gothic, the
_distinctive_ architecture of Venice, chiefly represented by the
churches of St. John and Paul, the Frari, and San Stefano, on the
ecclesiastical side, and by the Ducal palace, and the other principal
Gothic palaces, on the secular side, will be the subject of the third
division of the essay.

SECTION XXXIV. Now observe. The transitional (or especially Arabic)
style of the Venetian work is centralized by the date 1180, and is
transformed gradually into the Gothic, which extends in its purity from
the middle of the thirteenth to the beginning of the fifteenth century;
that is to say, over the precise period which I have described as the
central epoch of the life of Venice. I dated her decline from the year
1418; Foscari became doge five years later, and in his reign the first
marked signs appear in architecture of that mighty change which Philippe
de Commynes notices as above, the change to which London owes St.
Paul's, Rome St. Peter's, Venice and Vicenza the edifices commonly
supposed to be their noblest, and Europe in general the degradation of
every art she has since practised.

SECTION XXXV. This change appears first in a loss of truth and vitality
in existing architecture all over the world. (Compare "Seven Lamps,"
chap. ii.)

All the Gothics in existence, southern or northern, were corrupted at
once: the German and French lost themselves in every species of
extravagance; the English Gothic was confined, in its insanity, by a
strait-waistcoat of perpendicular lines; the Italian effloresced on the
main land into the meaningless ornamentation of the Certosa of Pavia and
the Cathedral of Como, (a style sometimes ignorantly called Italian
Gothic), and at Venice into the insipid confusion of the Porta della
Carta and wild crockets of St. Mark's. This corruption of all
architecture, especially ecclesiastical, corresponded with, and marked
the state of religion over all Europe,--the peculiar degradation of the
Romanist superstition, and of public morality in consequence, which
brought about the Reformation.

SECTION XXXVI. Against the corrupted papacy arose two great divisions of
adversaries, Protestants in Germany and England, Rationalists in France
and Italy; the one requiring the purification of religion, the other its
destruction. The Protestant kept the religion, but cast aside the
heresies of Rome, and with them her arts, by which last rejection he
injured his own character, cramped his intellect in refusing to it one
of its noblest exercises, and materially diminished his influence. It
may be a serious question how far the Pausing of the Reformation has
been a consequence of this error.

The Rationalist kept the arts and cast aside the religion. This
rationalistic art is the art commonly called Renaissance, marked by a
return to pagan systems, not to adopt them and hallow them for
Christianity, but to rank itself under them as an imitator and pupil. In
Painting it is headed by Giulio Romano and Nicolo Poussin; in
Architecture by Sansovino and Palladio.

SECTION XXXVII. Instant degradation followed in every direction,--a
flood of folly and hypocrisy. Mythologies ill understood at first, then
perverted into feeble sensualities, take the place of the
representations of Christian subjects, which had become blasphemous
under the treatment of men like the Caracci. Gods without power, satyrs
without rusticity, nymphs without innocence, men without humanity,
gather into idiot groups upon the polluted canvas, and scenic
affectations encumber the streets with preposterous marble. Lower and
lower declines the level of abused intellect; the base school of
landscape [Footnote: Appendix II, "Renaissance Landscape."] gradually
usurps the place of the historical painting, which had sunk into
prurient pedantry,--the Alsatian sublimities of Salvator, the
confectionery idealities of Claude, the dull manufacture of Gaspar and
Canaletto, south of the Alps, and on the north the patient devotion of
besotted lives to delineation of bricks and fogs, fat cattle and
ditchwater. And thus Christianity and morality, courage, and intellect,
and art all crumbling together into one wreck, we are hurried on to the
fall of Italy, the revolution in France, and the condition of art in
England (saved by her Protestantism from severer penalty) in the time of
George II.

SECTION XXXVIII. I have not written in vain if I have heretofore done
anything towards diminishing the reputation of the Renaissance landscape
painting. But the harm which has been done by Claude and the Poussins is
as nothing when compared to the mischief effected by Palladio, Scamozzi,
and Sansovino. Claude and the Poussins were weak men, and have had no
serious influence on the general mind. There is little harm in their
works being purchased at high prices: their real influence is very
slight, and they may be left without grave indignation to their poor
mission of furnishing drawing-rooms and assisting stranded conversation.
Not so the Renaissance architecture. Raised at once into all the
magnificence of which it was capable by Michael Angelo, then taken up by
men of real intellect and imagination, such as Scamozzi, Sansovino,
Inigo Jones, and Wren, it is impossible to estimate the extent of its
influence on the European mind; and that the more, because few persons
are concerned with painting, and, of those few, the larger number regard
it with slight attention; but all men are concerned with architecture,
and have at some time of their lives serious business with it. It does
not much matter that an individual loses two or three hundred pounds in
buying a bad picture, but it is to be regretted that a nation should
lose two or three hundred thousand in raising a ridiculous building. Nor
is it merely wasted wealth or distempered conception which we have to
regret in this Renaissance architecture: but we shall find in it partly
the root, partly the expression, of certain dominant evils of modern
times--over-sophistication and ignorant classicalism; the one destroying
the healthfulness of general society, the other rendering our schools
and universities useless to a large number of the men who pass through

Now Venice, as she was once the most religious, was in her fall the most
corrupt, of European states; and as she was in her strength the centre
of the pure currents of Christian architecture, so she is in her decline
the source of the Renaissance. It was the originality and splendor of
the palaces of Vicenza and Venice which gave this school its eminence in
the eyes of Europe; and the dying city, magnificent in her dissipation,
and graceful in her follies, obtained wider worship in her decrepitude
than in her youth, and sank from the midst of her admirers into the

SECTION XXXIX. It is in Venice, therefore, and in Venice only that
effectual blows can be struck at this pestilent art of the Renaissance.
Destroy its claims to admiration there, and it can assert them nowhere
else. This, therefore, will be the final purpose of the following essay.
I shall not devote a fourth section to Palladio, nor weary the reader
with successive chapters of vituperation; but I shall, in my account of
the earlier architecture, compare the forms of all its leading features
with those into which they were corrupted by the Classicalists; and
pause, in the close, on the edge of the precipice of decline, so soon as
I have made its depths discernible. In doing this I shall depend upon
two distinct kinds of evidence:--the first, the testimony borne by
particular incidents and facts to a want of thought or of feeling in the
builders; from which we may conclude that their architecture must be
bad:--the second, the sense, which I doubt not I shall be able to excite
in the reader, of a systematic ugliness in the architecture itself. Of
the first kind of testimony I shall here give two instances, which may
be immediately useful in fixing in the reader's mind the epoch above
indicated for the commencement of decline.

SECTION XL. I must again refer to the importance which I have above
attached to the death of Carlo Zeno and the doge Tomaso Mocenigo. The
tomb of that doge is, as I said, wrought by a Florentine; but it is of
the same general type and feeling as all the Venetian tombs of the
period, and it is one of the last which retains it. The classical
element enters largely into its details, but the feeling of the whole is
as yet unaffected. Like all the lovely tombs of Venice and Verona, it is
a sarcophagus with a recumbent figure above, and this figure is a
faithful but tender portrait, wrought as far as it can be without
painfulness, of the doge as he lay in death. He wears his ducal robe and
bonnet--his head is laid slightly aside upon his pillow--his hands are
simply crossed as they fall. The face is emaciated, the features large,
but so pure and lordly in their natural chiselling, that they must have
looked like marble even in their animation. They are deeply worn away by
thought and death; the veins on the temples branched and starting; the
skin gathered in sharp folds; the brow high-arched and shaggy; the
eye-ball magnificently large; the curve of the lips just veiled by the
light mustache at the side; the beard short, double, and sharp-pointed:
all noble and quiet; the white sepulchral dust marking like light the
stern angles of the cheek and brow.

This tomb was sculptured in 1424, and is thus described by one of the
most intelligent of the recent writers who represent the popular feeling
respecting Venetian art.

    "Of the Italian school is also the rich but ugly (ricco ma non
    bel) sarcophagus in which repose the ashes of Tomaso Mocenigo.
    It may be called one of the last links which connect the
    declining art of the Middle Ages with that of the Renaissance,
    which was in its rise. We will not stay to particularize the
    defects of each of the seven figures of the front and sides,
    which represent the cardinal and theological virtues; nor will
    we make any remarks upon those which stand in the niches above
    the pavilion, because we consider them unworthy both of the age
    and reputation of the Florentine school, which was then with
    reason considered the most notable in Italy." [Footnote:
    Selvatico, "Architettura di Venezia," p. 147.]

It is well, indeed, not to pause over these defects; but it might have
been better to have paused a moment beside that noble image of a king's

SECTION XLI. In the choir of the same church, St. Giov. and Paolo, is
another tomb, that of the Doge Andrea Vendramin. This doge died in 1478,
after a short reign of two years, the most disastrous in the annals of
Venice. He died of a pestilence which followed the ravage of the Turks,
carried to the shores of the lagoons. He died, leaving Venice disgraced
by sea and land, with the smoke of hostile devastation rising in the
blue distances of Friuli; and there was raised to him the most costly
tomb ever bestowed on her monarchs.

SECTION XLII. If the writer above quoted was cold beside the statue of
one of the fathers of his country, he atones for it by his eloquence
beside the tomb of the Vendramin. I must not spoil the force of Italian
superlative by translation.

    "Quando si guarda a quella corretta eleganza di profili e di
    proporzioni, a quella squisitezza d'ornamenti, a quel certo
    sapore antico che senza ombra d' imitazione traspareda tutta l'
    opera"--&c. "Sopra ornatissimo zoccolo fornito di squisiti
    intagli s' alza uno stylobate"--&c. "Sotto le colonne, il
    predetto stilobate si muta leggiadramente in piedistallo, poi
    con bella novita di pensiero e di effetto va coronato da un
    fregio il piu gentile che veder si possa"--&c. "Non puossi
    lasciar senza un cenno l' _arca dove_ sta chiuso il doge;
    capo lavoro di pensiero e di esecuzione," etc.

There are two pages and a half of closely printed praise, of which the
above specimens may suffice; but there is not a word of the statue of
the dead from beginning to end. I am myself in the habit of considering
this rather an important part of a tomb, and I was especially interested
in it here, because Selvatico only echoes the praise of thousands. It is
unanimously declared the chef d'oeuvre of Renaissance sepulchral work,
and pronounced by Cicognara (also quoted by Selvatico).

    "Il vertice a cui l'arti Veneziane si spinsero col ministero del
    scalpello,"--"The very culminating point to which the Venetian
    arts attained by ministry of the chisel."

To this culminating point, therefore, covered with dust and cobwebs, I
attained, as I did to every tomb of importance in Venice, by the
ministry of such ancient ladders as were to be found in the sacristan's
keeping. I was struck at first by the excessive awkwardness and want of
feeling in the fall of the hand towards the spectator, for it is thrown
off the middle of the body in order to show its fine cutting. Now the
Mocenigo hand, severe and even stiff in its articulations, has its veins
finely drawn, its sculptor having justly felt that the delicacy of the
veining expresses alike dignity and age and birth. The Vendramin hand is
far more laboriously cut, but its blunt and clumsy contour at once makes
us feel that all the care has been thrown away, and well it may be, for
it has been entirely bestowed in cutting gouty wrinkles about the
joints. Such as the hand is, I looked for its fellow. At first I thought
it had been broken off, but, on clearing away the dust, I saw the
wretched effigy had only _one_ hand, and was a mere block on the
inner side. The face, heavy and disagreeable in its features, is made
monstrous by its semi-sculpture. One side of the forehead is wrinkled
elaborately, the other left smooth; one side only of the doge's cap is
chased; one cheek only is finished, and the other blocked out and
distorted besides; finally, the ermine robe, which is elaborately
imitated to its utmost lock of hair and of ground hair on the one side,
is blocked out only on the other: it having been supposed throughout the
work that the effigy was only to be seen from below, and from one side.

SECTION XLIII. It was indeed to be seen by nearly every one; and I do
not blame--I should, on the contrary, have praised--the sculptor for
regulating his treatment of it by its position; if that treatment had
not involved, first, dishonesty, in giving only half a face, a monstrous
mask, when we demanded true portraiture of the dead; and, secondly, such
utter coldness of feeling, as could only consist with an extreme of
intellectual and moral degradation: Who, with a heart in his breast,
could have stayed his hand as he drew the dim lines of the old man's
countenance--unmajestic once, indeed, but at least sanctified by the
solemnities of death--could have stayed his hand, as he reached the bend
of the grey forehead, and measured out the last veins of it at so much
the zecchin.

I do not think the reader, if he has feeling, will expect that much
talent should be shown in the rest of his work, by the sculptor of this
base and senseless lie. The whole monument is one wearisome aggregation
of that species of ornamental flourish, which, when it is done with a
pen, is called penmanship, and when done with a chisel, should be called
chiselmanship; the subject of it being chiefly fat-limbed boys sprawling
on dolphins, dolphins incapable of swimming, and dragged along the sea
by expanded pocket-handkerchiefs.

But now, reader, comes the very gist and point of the whole matter. This
lying monument to a dishonored doge, this culminating pride of the
Renaissance art of Venice, is at least veracious, if in nothing else, in
its testimony to the character of its sculptor. _He was banished from
Venice for forgery_ in 1487. [Footnote: Selvatico, p. 221.]

SECTION XLIV. I have more to say about this convict's work hereafter;
but I pass at present, to the second, slighter, but yet more interesting
piece of evidence, which I promised.

The ducal palace has two principal facades; one towards the sea, the
other towards the Piazzetta. The seaward side, and, as far as the
seventh main arch inclusive, the Piazzetta side, is work of the early
part of the fourteenth century, some of it perhaps even earlier; while
the rest of the Piazzetta side is of the fifteenth. The difference in
age has been gravely disputed by the Venetian antiquaries, who have
examined many documents on the subject, and quoted some which they never
examined. I have myself collated most of the written documents, and one
document more, to which the Venetian antiquaries never thought of
referring,--the masonry of the palace itself.

SECTION XLV. That masonry changes at the centre of the eighth arch from
the sea angle on the Piazzetta side. It has been of comparatively small
stones up to that point; the fifteenth century work instantly begins
with larger stones, "brought from Istria, a hundred miles away."
[Footnote: The older work is of Istrian stone also, but of different
quality.] The ninth shaft from the sea in the lower arcade, and the
seventeenth, which is above it, in the upper arcade, commence the series
of fifteenth century shafts. These two are somewhat thicker than the
others, and carry the party-wall of the Sala del Scrutinio. Now observe,
reader. The face of the palace, from this point to the Porta della
Carta, was built at the instance of that noble Doge Mocenigo beside
whose tomb you have been standing; at his instance, and in the beginning
of the reign of his successor, Foscari; that is to say, circa 1424. This
is not disputed; it is only disputed that the sea facade is earlier; of
which, however, the proofs are as simple as they are incontrovertible:
for not only the masonry, but the sculpture, changes at the ninth lower
shaft, and that in the capitals of the shafts both of the upper and
lower arcade: the costumes of the figures introduced in the sea facade
being purely Giottesque, correspondent with Giotto's work in the Arena
Chapel at Padua, while the costume on the other capitals is
Renaissance-Classic: and the lions' heads between the arches change at
the same point. And there are a multitude of other evidences in the
statues of the angels, with which I shall not at present trouble the

SECTION XLVI. Now, the architect who built under Foscari, in 1424
(remember my date for the decline of Venice, 1418), was obliged to
follow the principal forms of the older palace. But he had not the wit
to invent new capitals in the same style; he therefore clumsily copied
the old ones. The palace has seventeen main arches on the sea facade,
eighteen on the Piazzetta side, which in all are of course carried by
thirty-six pillars; and these pillars I shall always number from right
to left, from the angle of the palace at the Ponte della Paglia to that
next the Porta della Carta. I number them in this succession, because I
thus have the earliest shafts first numbered. So counted, the 1st, the
18th, and the 36th, are the great supports of the angles of the palace;
and the first of the fifteenth century series, being, as above stated,
the 9th from the sea on the Piazzetta side, is the 26th of the entire
series, and will always in future be so numbered, so that all numbers
above twenty-six indicate fifteenth century work, and all below it,
fourteenth century, with some exceptional cases of restoration.

Then the copied capitals are: the 28th, copied from the 7th; the 29th,
from the 9th; the 30th, from the 10th; the 31st, from the 8th; the 33d,
from the 12th; and the 34th, from the 11th; the others being dull
inventions of the 15th century, except the 36th; which is very nobly

SECTION XLVII. The capitals thus selected from the earlier portion of
the palace for imitation, together with the rest, will be accurately
described hereafter; the point I have here to notice is in the copy of
the ninth capital, which was decorated (being, like the rest, octagonal)
with figures of the eight Virtues:--Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice,
Temperance, Prudence, Humility (the Venetian antiquaries call it
Humanity!), and Fortitude. The Virtues of the fourteenth century are
somewhat hard-featured; with vivid and living expression, and plain
every-day clothes of the time. Charity has her lap full of apples
(perhaps loaves), and is giving one to a little child, who stretches his
arm for it across a gap in the leafage of the capital. Fortitude tears
open a lion's jaws; Faith lays her hand on her breast, as she beholds
the Cross; and Hope is praying, while above her a hand is seen emerging
from sunbeams--the hand of God (according to that of Revelations, "The
Lord God giveth them light"); and the inscription above is, "Spes optima
in Deo."

SECTION XLVIII. This design, then, is, rudely and with imperfect
chiselling, imitated by the fifteenth century workmen: the Virtues have
lost their hard features and living expression; they have now all got
Roman noses, and have had their hair curled. Their actions and emblems
are, however, preserved until we come to Hope: she is still praying, but
she is praying to the sun only: _The hand of God is gone_.

Is not this a curious and striking type of the spirit which had then
become dominant in the world, forgetting to see God's hand in the light
He gave; so that in the issue, when the light opened into the
Reformation on the one side, and into full knowledge of ancient
literature on the other, the one was arrested and the other perverted?

SECTION XLIX. Such is the nature of the accidental evidence on which I
shall depend for the proof of the inferiority of character in the
Renaissance workmen. But the proof of the inferiority of the work itself
is not so easy, for in this I have to appeal to judgments which the
Renaissance work has itself distorted. I felt this difficulty very
forcibly as I read a slight review of my former work, "The Seven Lamps,"
in "The Architect:" the writer noticed my constant praise of St. Mark's:
"Mr. Ruskin thinks it a very beautiful building! We," said the
Architect, "think it a very ugly building." I was not surprised at the
difference of opinion, but at the thing being considered so completely a
subject of opinion. My opponents in matters of painting always assume
that there _is_ such a thing as a law of right, and that I do not
understand it: but my architectural adversaries appeal to no law, they
simply set their opinion against mine; and indeed there is no law at
present to which either they or I can appeal. No man can speak with
rational decision of the merits or demerits of buildings: he may with
obstinacy; he may with resolved adherence to previous prejudices; but
never as if the matter could be otherwise decided than by a majority of
votes, or pertinacity of partisanship. I had always, however, a clear
conviction that there _was_ a law in this matter: that good
architecture might be indisputably discerned and divided from the bad;
that the opposition in their very nature and essence was clearly
visible; and that we were all of us just as unwise in disputing about
the matter without reference to principle, as we should be for debating
about the genuineness of a coin, without ringing it. I felt also assured
that this law must be universal if it were conclusive; that it must
enable us to reject all foolish and base work, and to accept all noble
and wise work, without reference to style or national feeling; that it
must sanction the design of all truly great nations and times, Gothic or
Greek or Arab; that it must cast off and reprobate the design of all
foolish nations and times, Chinese or Mexican, or modern European: and
that it must be easily applicable to all possible architectural
inventions of human mind. I set myself, therefore, to establish such a
law, in full belief that men are intended, without excessive difficulty,
and by use of their general common sense, to know good things from bad;
and that it is only because they will not be at the pains required for
the discernment, that the world is so widely encumbered with forgeries
and basenesses. I found the work simpler than I had hoped; the
reasonable things ranged themselves in the order I required, and the
foolish things fell aside, and took themselves away so soon as they were
looked in the face. I had then, with respect to Venetian architecture,
the choice, either to establish each division of law in a separate form,
as I came to the features with which it was concerned, or else to ask
the reader's patience, while I followed out the general inquiry first,
and determined with him a code of right and wrong, to which we might
together make retrospective appeal. I thought this the best, though
perhaps the dullest way; and in these first following pages I have
therefore endeavored to arrange those foundations of criticism, on which
I shall rest in my account of Venetian architecture, in a form clear and
simple enough to be intelligible even to those who never thought of
architecture before. To those who have, much of what is stated in them
will be well known or self-evident; but they must not be indignant at a
simplicity on which the whole argument depends for its usefulness. From
that which appears a mere truism when first stated, they will find very
singular consequences sometimes following,--consequences altogether
unexpected, and of considerable importance; I will not pause here to
dwell on their importance, nor on that of the thing itself to be done;
for I believe most readers will at once admit the value of a criterion
of right and wrong in so practical and costly an art as architecture,
and will be apt rather to doubt the possibility of its attainment than
dispute its usefulness if attained. I invite them, therefore, to a fair
trial, being certain that even if I should fail in my main purpose, and
be unable to induce in my reader the confidence of judgment I desire, I
shall at least receive his thanks for the suggestion of consistent
reasons, which may determine hesitating choice, or justify involuntary
preference. And if I should succeed, as I hope, in making the Stones of
Venice touchstones, and detecting, by the mouldering of her marble,
poison more subtle than ever was betrayed by the rending of her crystal;
and if thus I am enabled to show the baseness of the schools of
architecture and nearly every other art, which have for three centuries
been predominant in Europe, I believe the result of the inquiry may be
serviceable for proof of a more vital truth than any at which I have
hitherto hinted. For observe: I said the Protestant had despised the
arts, and the Rationalist corrupted them. But what has the Romanist done
meanwhile? He boasts that it was the papacy which raised the arts; why
could it not support them when it was left to its own strength? How came
it to yield to Classicalism which was based on infidelity, and to oppose
no barrier to innovations, which have reduced the once faithfully
conceived imagery of its worship to stage decoration? [Footnote:
Appendix XII., "Romanist Modern Art."] Shall we not rather find that
Romanism, instead of being a promoter of the arts, has never shown itself
capable of a single great conception since the separation of
Protestantism from its side? [Footnote: Perfectly true: but the whole
vital value of the truth was lost by my sectarian ignorance.
Protestantism (so far as it was still Christianity, and did not consist
merely in maintaining one's own opinion for gospel) could not separate
itself from the Catholic Church. The so-called Catholics became
themselves sectarians and heretics in casting them out; and Europe was
turned into a mere cockpit, of the theft and fury of unchristian men of
both parties; while innocent and silent on the hills and fields, God's
people in neglected peace, everywhere and for ever Catholics, lived and
died.] So long as, corrupt though it might be, no clear witness had been
borne against it, so that it still included in its ranks a vast number of
faithful Christians, so long its arts were noble. But the witness was
borne--the error made apparent; and Rome, refusing to hear the testimony
or forsake the falsehood, has been struck from that instant with an
intellectual palsy, which has not only incapacitated her from any further
use of the arts which once were her ministers, but has made her worship
the shame of its own shrines, and her worshippers their destroyers. Come,
then, if truths such as these are worth our thoughts; come, and let us
know, before we enter the streets of the Sea city, whether we are indeed
to submit ourselves to their undistinguished enchantment, and to look
upon the last changes which were wrought on the lifted forms of her
palaces, as we should on the capricious towering of summer clouds in the
sunset, ere they sank into the deep of night; or, whether, rather, we
shall not behold in the brightness of their accumulated marble, pages on
which the sentence of her luxury was to be written until the waves should
efface it, as they fulfilled--"God has numbered thy kingdom, and finished




SECTION I. In the olden days of travelling, now to return no more, in
which distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in which that
toil was rewarded, partly by the power of deliberate survey of the
countries through which the journey lay, and partly by the happiness of
the evening hours, when, from the top of the last hill he had
surmounted, the traveller beheld the quiet village where he was to rest,
scattered among the meadows beside its valley stream; or, from the
long-hoped-for turn in the dusty perspective of the causeway, saw, for
the first time, the towers of some famed city, faint in the rays of
sunset--hours of peaceful and thoughtful pleasure, for which the rush of
the arrival in the railway station is perhaps not always, or to all men,
an equivalent,--in those days, I say, when there was something more to
be anticipated and remembered in the first aspect of each successive
halting-place, than a new arrangement of glass roofing and iron girder,
there were few moments of which the recollection was more fondly
cherished by the traveller than that which, as I endeavored to describe
in the close of the last chapter, brought him within sight of Venice, as
his gondola shot into the open lagoon from the canal of Mestre. Not but
that the aspect of the city itself was generally the source of some
slight disappointment, for, seen in this direction, its buildings are
far less characteristic than those of the other great towns of Italy;
but this inferiority was partly disguised by distance, and more than
atoned for by the strange rising of its walls and towers out of the
midst, as it seemed, of the deep sea, for it was impossible that the
mind or the eye could at once comprehend the shallowness of the vast
sheet of water which stretched away in leagues of rippling lustre to the
north and south, or trace the narrow line of islets bounding it to the
east. The salt breeze, the white moaning sea-birds, the masses of black
weed separating and disappearing gradually, in knots of heaving shoal,
under the advance of the steady tide, all proclaimed it to be indeed the
ocean on whose bosom the great city rested so calmly; not such blue,
soft, lake-like ocean as bathes the Neapolitan promontories, or sleeps
beneath the marble rocks of Genoa, but a sea with the bleak power of our
own northern waves, yet subdued into a strange spacious rest, and
changed from its angry pallor into a field of burnished gold, as the sun
declined behind the belfry tower of the lonely island church, fitly
named "St. George of the Seaweed." As the boat drew nearer to the city,
the coast which the traveller had just left sank behind him into one
long, low, sad-colored line, tufted irregularly with brushwood and
willows: but, at what seemed its northern extremity, the hills of Arqua
rose in a dark cluster of purple pyramids, balanced on the bright mirage
of the lagoon; two or three smooth surges of inferior hill extended
themselves about their roots, and beyond these, beginning with the
craggy peaks above Vicenza, the chain of the Alps girded the whole
horizon to the north--a wall of jagged blue, here and there showing
through its clefts a wilderness of misty precipices, fading far back
into the recesses of Cadore, and itself rising and breaking away
eastward, where the sun struck opposite upon its snow, into mighty
fragments of peaked light, standing up behind the barred clouds of
evening, one after another, countless, the crown of the Adrian Sea,
until the eye turned back from pursuing them, to rest upon the nearer
burning of the campaniles of Murano, and on the great city, where it
magnified itself along the waves, as the quick silent pacing of the
gondola drew nearer and nearer. And at last, when its walls were
reached, and the outmost of its untrodden streets was entered, not
through towered gate or guarded rampart, but as a deep inlet between two
rocks of coral in the Indian sea; when first upon the traveller's sight
opened the long ranges of columned palaces,--each with its black boat
moored at the portal,--each with its image cast down, beneath its feet,
upon that green pavement which every breeze broke into new fantasies of
rich tessellation; when first, at the extremity of the bright vista, the
shadowy Rialto threw its colossal curve slowly forth from behind the
palace of the Camerlenghi; that strange curve, so delicate, so
adamantine, strong as a mountain cavern, graceful as a bow just bent;
when first, before its moonlike circumference was all risen, the
gondolier's cry, "Ah! Stali," [Footnote: Appendix I, "The Gondolier's
Cry."] struck sharp upon the ear, and the prow turned aside under the
mighty cornices that half met over the narrow canal, where the plash of
the water followed close and loud, ringing along the marble by the
boat's side, and when at last that boat darted forth upon the breadth of
silver sea, across which the front of the Ducal palace, flushed with its
sanguine veins, looks to the snowy dome of Our Lady of Salvation,
[Footnote: Appendix II, "Our Lady of Salvation."] it was no marvel that
the mind should be so deeply entranced by the visionary charm of a scene
so beautiful and so strange, as to forget the darker truths of its
history and its being. Well might it seem that such a city had owed her
existence rather to the rod of the enchanter, than the fear of the
fugitive; that the waters which encircled her had been chosen for the
mirror of her state, rather than the shelter of her nakedness; and that
all which in nature was wild or merciless,--Time and Decay, as well as
the waves and tempests,--had been won to adorn her instead of to
destroy, and might still spare, for ages to come, that beauty which
seemed to have fixed for its throne the sands of the hour-glass as well
as of the sea.

SECTION II. And although the last few eventful years, fraught with
change to the face of the whole earth, have been more fatal in their
influence on Venice than the five hundred that preceded them; though the
noble landscape of approach to her can now be seen no more, or seen only
by a glance, as the engine slackens its rushing on the iron line; and
though many of her palaces are for ever defaced, and many in desecrated
ruins, there is still so much of magic in her aspect, that the hurried
traveller, who must leave her before the wonder of that first aspect has
been worn away, may still be led to forget the humility of her origin,
and to shut his eyes to the depth of her desolation. They, at least, are
little to be envied, in whose hearts the great charities of the
imagination lie dead, and for whom the fancy has no power to repress the
importunity of painful impressions, or to raise what is ignoble, and
disguise what is discordant, in a scene so rich in its remembrances, so
surpassing in its beauty. But for this work of the imagination there
must be no permission during the task which is before us. The impotent
feeling of romance, so singularly characteristic of this century, may
indeed gild, but never save the remains of those mightier ages to which
they are attached like climbing flowers; and they must be torn away from
the magnificent fragments, if we would see them as they stood in their
own strength. Those feelings, always as fruitless as they are fond, are
in Venice not only incapable of protecting, but even of discerning, the
objects of which they ought to have been attached. The Venice of modern
fiction and drama is a thing of yesterday, a mere efflorescence of
decay, a stage dream which the first ray of daylight must dissipate into
dust. No prisoner, whose name is worth remembering, or whose sorrow
deserved sympathy, ever crossed that "Bridge of Sighs," which is the
centre of the Byronic ideal of Venice; no great merchant of Venice ever
saw that Rialto under which the traveller now passes with breathless
interest: the statue which Byron makes Faliero address as of one of his
great ancestors was erected to a soldier of fortune a hundred and fifty
years after Faliero's death; and the most conspicuous parts of the city
have been so entirely altered in the course of the last three centuries,
that if Henry Dandolo or Francis Foscari could be summoned from their
tombs, and stood each on the deck of his galley at the entrance of the
Grand Canal, that renowned entrance, the painter's favorite subject, the
novelist's favorite scene, where the water first narrows by the steps of
the Church of La Salute,--the mighty Doges would not know in what spot
of the world they stood, would literally not recognize one stone of the
great city, for whose sake, and by whose ingratitude, their gray hairs
had been brought down with bitterness to the grave. The remains of
_their_ Venice lie hidden behind the cumbrous masses which were the
delight of the nation in its dotage; hidden in many a grass-grown court,
and silent pathway, and lightless canal, where the slow waves have
sapped their foundations for five hundred years, and must soon prevail
over them for ever. It must be our task to glean and gather them forth,
and restore out of them some faint image of the lost city, more gorgeous
a thousand-fold than that which now exists, yet not created in the
day-dream of the prince, nor by the ostentation of the noble, but built
by iron hands and patient hearts, contending against the adversity of
nature and the fury of man, so that its wonderfulness cannot be grasped
by the indolence of imagination, but only after frank inquiry into the
true nature of that wild and solitary scene, whose restless tides and
trembling sands did indeed shelter the birth of the city, but long
denied her dominion.

SECTION III. When the eye falls casually on a map of Europe, there is no
feature by which it is more likely to be arrested than the strange
sweeping loop formed by the junction of the Alps and the Apennines, and
enclosing the great basin of Lombardy. This return of the mountain chain
upon itself causes a vast difference in the character of the
distribution of its debris on its opposite sides. The rock fragments and
sediment which the torrents on the north side of the Alps bear into the
plains are distributed over a vast extent of country, and, though here
and there lodged in beds of enormous thickness, soon permit the firm
substrata to appear from underneath them; but all the torrents which
descend from the southern side of the High Alps, and from the northern
slope of the Apennines, meet concentrically in the recess or mountain
bay which the two ridges enclose; every fragment which thunder breaks
out of their battlements, and every grain of dust which the summer rain
washes from their pastures, is at last laid at rest in the blue sweep of
the Lombardic plain; and that plain must have risen within its rocky
barriers as a cup fills with wine, but for two contrary influences which
continually depress, or disperse from its surface, the accumulation of
the ruins of ages.

SECTION IV. I will not tax the reader's faith in modern science by
insisting on the singular depression of the surface of Lombardy, which
appears for many centuries to have taken place steadily and continually;
the main fact with which we have to do is the gradual transport, by the
Po and its great collateral rivers, of vast masses of the finer sediment
to the sea. The character of the Lombardic plains is most strikingly
expressed by the ancient walls of its cities, composed for the most part
of large rounded Alpine pebbles alternating with narrow courses of
brick; and was curiously illustrated in 1848, by the ramparts of these
same pebbles thrown up four or five feet high round every field, to
check the Austrian cavalry in the battle under the walls of Verona. The
finer dust among which these pebbles are dispersed is taken up by the
rivers, fed into continual strength by the Alpine snow, so that, however
pure their waters may be when they issue from the lakes at the foot of
the great chain, they become of the color and opacity of clay before
they reach the Adriatic; the sediment which they bear is at once thrown
down as they enter the sea, forming a vast belt of low land along the
eastern coast of Italy. The powerful stream of the Po of course builds
forward the fastest; on each side of it, north and south, there is a
tract of marsh, fed by more feeble streams, and less liable to rapid
change than the delta of the central river. In one of these tracts is
built RAVENNA, and in the other VENICE.

SECTION V. What circumstances directed the peculiar arrangement of this
great belt of sediment in the earliest times, it is not here the place
to inquire. It is enough for us to know that from the mouths of the
Adige to those of the Piave there stretches, at a variable distance of
from three to five miles from the actual shore, a bank of sand, divided
into long islands by narrow channels of sea. The space between this bank
and the true shore consists of the sedimentary deposits from these and
other rivers, a great plain of calcareous mud, covered, in the
neighborhood of Venice, by the sea at high water, to the depth in most
places of a foot or a foot and a half, and nearly everywhere exposed at
low tide, but divided by an intricate network of narrow and winding
channels, from which the sea never retires. In some places, according to
the run of the currents, the land has risen into marshy islets,
consolidated, some by art, and some by time, into ground firm enough to
be built upon, or fruitful enough to be cultivated: in others, on the
contrary, it has not reached the sea-level; so that, at the average low
water, shallow lakelets glitter among its irregularly exposed fields of
seaweed. In the midst of the largest of these, increased in importance
by the confluence of several large river channels towards one of the
openings in the sea bank, the city of Venice itself is built, on a
clouded cluster of islands; the various plots of higher ground which
appear to the north and south of this central cluster, have at different
periods been also thickly inhabited, and now bear, according to their
size, the remains of cities, villages, or isolated convents and
churches, scattered among spaces of open ground, partly waste and
encumbered by ruins, partly under cultivation for the supply of the

SECTION VI. The average rise and fall of the tide is about three feet
(varying considerably with the seasons; [Footnote: Appendix III, "Tides
of Venice."]) but this fall, on so flat a shore, is enough to cause
continual movement in the waters, and in the main canals to produce a
reflux which frequently runs like a mill stream. At high water no land
is visible for many miles to the north or south of Venice, except in the
form of small islands crowned with towers or gleaming with villages:
there is a channel, some three miles wide, between the city and the
mainland, and some mile and a half wide between it and the sandy
breakwater called the Lido, which divides the lagoon from the Adriatic,
but which is so low as hardly to disturb the impression of the city's
having been built in the midst of the ocean, although the secret of its
true position is partly, yet not painfully, betrayed by the clusters of
piles set to mark the deep-water channels, which undulate far away in
spotty chains like the studded backs of huge sea-snakes, and by the
quick glittering of the crisped and crowded waves that flicker and dance
before the strong winds upon the unlifted level of the shallow sea. But
the scene is widely different at low tide. A fall of eighteen or twenty
inches is enough to show ground over the greater part of the lagoon; and
at the complete ebb the city is seen standing in the midst of a dark
plain of seaweed, of gloomy green, except only where the larger branches
of the Brenta and its associated streams converge towards the port of
the Lido. Through this salt and sombre plain the gondola and the
fishing-boat advance by tortuous channels, seldom more than four or five
feet deep, and often so choked with slime that the heavier keels furrow
the bottom till their crossing tracks are seen through the clear sea
water like the ruts upon a. wintry road, and the oar leaves blue gashes
upon the ground at every stroke, or is entangled among the thick weed
that fringes the banks with the weight of its sullen waves, leaning to
and fro upon the uncertain sway of the exhausted tide. The scene is
often profoundly oppressive, even at this day, when every plot of higher
ground bears some fragment of fair building: but, in order to know what
it was once, let the traveller follow in his boat at evening the
windings of some unfrequented channel far into the midst of the
melancholy plain; let him remove, in his imagination, the brightness of
the great city that still extends itself in the distance, and the walls
and towers from the islands that are near; and so wait, until the bright
investiture and, sweet warmth of the sunset are withdrawn from the
waters, and the black desert of their shore lies in its nakedness
beneath the night, pathless, comfortless, infirm, lost in dark languor
and fearful silence, except where the salt runlets plash into the
tideless pools, or the seabirds flit from their margins with a
questioning cry; and he will be enabled to enter in some sort into the
horror of heart with which this solitude was anciently chosen by man for
his habitation. They little thought, who first drove the stakes into the
sand, and strewed the ocean reeds for their rest, that their children
were to be the princes of that ocean, and their palaces its pride; and
yet, in the great natural laws that rule that sorrowful wilderness, let
it be remembered what strange preparation had been made for the things
which no human imagination could have foretold, and how the whole
existence and fortune of the Venetian nation were anticipated or
compelled, by the setting of those bars and doors to the rivers and the
sea. Had deeper currents divided their islands, hostile navies would
again and again have reduced the rising city into servitude; had
stronger surges beaten their shores, all the richness and refinement of
the Venetian architecture must have been exchanged for the walls and
bulwarks of an ordinary sea-port. Had there been no tide, as in other
parts of the Mediterranean, the narrow canals of the city would have
become noisome, and the marsh in which it was built pestiferous. Had the
tide been only a foot or eighteen inches higher in its rise, the
water-access to the doors of the palaces would have been impossible:
even as it is, there is sometimes a little difficulty, at the ebb, in
landing without setting foot upon the lower and slippery steps: and the
highest tides sometimes enter the courtyards, and overflow the entrance
halls. Eighteen inches more of difference between the level of the flood
and ebb would have rendered the doorsteps of every palace, at low water,
a treacherous mass of weeds and limpets, and the entire system of
water-carriage for the higher classes, in their easy and daily
intercourse, must have been done away with. The streets of the city
would have been widened, its network of canals filled up, and all the
peculiar character of the place and the people destroyed.

SECTION VII. The reader may perhaps have felt some pain in the contrast
between this faithful view of the site of the Venetian Throne, and the
romantic conception of it which we ordinarily form; but this pain, if he
have felt it, ought to be more than counterbalanced by the value of the
instance thus afforded to us at once of the inscrutableness and the
wisdom of the ways of God. If, two thousand years ago, we had been
permitted to watch the slow settling of the slime of those turbid rivers
into the polluted sea, and the gaining upon its deep and fresh waters of
the lifeless, impassable, unvoyageable plain, how little could we have
understood the purpose with which those islands were shaped out of the
void, and the torpid waters enclosed with their desolate walls of sand!
How little could we have known, any more than of what now seems to us
most distressful, dark, and objectless, the glorious aim which was then
in the mind of Him in whose hand are all the corners of the earth! how
little imagined that in the laws which were stretching forth the gloomy
margins of those fruitless banks, and feeding the bitter grass among
their shallows, there was indeed a preparation, and _the only preparation
possible_, for the founding of a city which was to be set like a golden
clasp on the girdle of the earth, to write her history on the white
scrolls of the sea-surges, and to word it in their thunder, and to gather
and give forth, in world-wide pulsation, the glory of the West and of the
East, from the burning heart of her Fortitude and Splendor.




SECTION I. Seven miles to the north of Venice, the banks of sand, which
near the city rise little above low-water mark, attain by degrees a
higher level, and knit themselves at last into fields of salt morass,
raised here and there into shapeless mounds, and intercepted by narrow
creeks of sea. One of the feeblest of these inlets, after winding for
some time among buried fragments of masonry, and knots of sunburnt weeds
whitened with webs of fucus, stays itself in an utterly stagnant pool
beside a plot of greener grass covered with ground ivy and violets. On
this mound is built a rude brick campanile, of the commonest Lombardic
type, which if we ascend towards evening (and there are none to hinder
us, the door of its ruinous staircase swinging idly on its hinges), we
may command from it one of the most notable scenes in this wide world of
ours. Far as the eye can reach, a waste of wild sea moor, of a lurid
ashen gray; not like our northern moors with their jet-black pools and
purple heath, but lifeless, the color of sackcloth, with the corrupted
sea-water soaking through the roots of its acrid weeds, and gleaming
hither and thither through its snaky channels. No gathering of fantastic
mists, nor coursing of clouds across it; but melancholy clearness of
space in the warm sunset, oppressive, reaching to the horizon of its
level gloom. To the very horizon, on the north-east; but, to the north
and west, there is a blue line of higher land along the border of it,
and above this, but farther back, a misty band of mountains, touched
with snow. To the east, the paleness and roar of the Adriatic, louder at
momentary intervals as the surf breaks on the bars of sand; to the
south, the widening branches of the calm lagoon, alternately purple and
pale green, as they reflect the evening clouds or twilight sky; and
almost beneath our feet, on the same field which sustains the tower we
gaze from, a group of four buildings, two of them little larger than
cottages (though built of stone, and one adorned by a quaint belfry),
the third an octagonal chapel, of which we can see but little more than
the flat red roof with its rayed tiling, the fourth, a considerable
church with nave and aisles, but of which, in like manner, we can see
little but the long central ridge and lateral slopes of roof, which the
sunlight separates in one glowing mass from the green field beneath and
gray moor beyond. There are no living creatures near the buildings, nor
any vestige of village or city round about them. They lie like a little
company of ships becalmed on a far-away sea.

SECTION II. Then look farther to the south. Beyond the widening branches
of the lagoon, and rising out of the bright lake into which they gather,
there are a multitude of towers, dark, and scattered among square-set
shapes of clustered palaces, a long and irregular line fretting the
southern sky.

Mother and daughter, you behold them both in their widowhood,--TORCELLO

Thirteen hundred years ago, the gray moorland looked as it does this
day, and the purple mountains stood as radiantly in the deep distances
of evening; but on the line of the horizon, there were strange fires
mixed with the light of sunset, and the lament of many human voices
mixed with the fretting of the waves on their ridges of sand. The flames
rose from the ruins of Altinum; the lament from the multitude of its
people, seeking, like Israel of old, a refuge from the sword in the
paths of the sea.

The cattle are feeding and resting upon the site of the city that they
left; the mower's scythe swept this day at dawn over the chief street of
the city that they built, and the swathes of soft grass are now sending
up their scent into the night air, the only incense that fills the
temple of their ancient worship. Let us go down into that little space
of meadow land.

SECTION III. The inlet which runs nearest to the base of the campanile
is not that by which Torcello is commonly approached. Another, somewhat
broader, and overhung by alder copse, winds out of the main channel of
the lagoon up to the very edge of the little meadow which was once the
Piazza of the city, and there, stayed by a few grey stones which present
some semblance of a quay, forms its boundary at one extremity. Hardly
larger than an ordinary English farmyard, and roughly enclosed on each
side by broken palings and hedges of honeysuckle and briar, the narrow
field retires from the water's edge, traversed by a scarcely traceable
footpath, for some forty or fifty paces, and then expanding into the
form of a small square, with buildings on three sides of it, the fourth
being that which opens to the water. Two of these, that on our left and
that in front of us as we approach from the canal, are so small that
they might well be taken for the out-houses of the farm, though the
first is a conventual building, and the other aspires to the title of
the "Palazzo publico," both dating as far back as the beginning of the
fourteenth century; the third, the octagonal church of Santa Fosca, is
far more ancient than either, yet hardly on a larger scale. Though the
pillars of the portico which surrounds it are of pure Greek marble, and
their capitals are enriched with delicate sculpture, they, and the
arches they sustain, together only raise the roof to the height of a
cattle-shed; and the first strong impression which the spectator
receives from the whole scene is, that whatever sin it may have been
which has on this spot been visited with so utter a desolation, it could
not at least have been ambition. Nor will this impression be diminished
as we approach, or enter, the larger church to which the whole group of
building is subordinate. It has evidently been built by men in flight
and distress, [Footnote: Appendix IV, "Date of the Duomo of Torcello."]
who sought in the hurried erection of their Island church such a shelter
for their earnest and sorrowful worship as, on the one hand, could not
attract the eyes of their enemies by its splendor, and yet, on the
other, might not awaken too bitter feelings by its contrast with the
churches which they had seen destroyed.

There is visible everywhere a simple and tender effort to recover some
of the form of the temples which they had loved, and to do honor to God
by that which they were erecting, while distress and humiliation
prevented the desire, and prudence precluded the admission, either of
luxury of ornament or magnificence of plan. The exterior is absolutely
devoid of decoration, with the exception only of the western entrance
and the lateral door, of which the former has carved sideposts and
architrave, and the latter, crosses of rich sculpture; while the massy
stone shutters of the windows, turning on huge rings of stone, which
answer the double purpose of stanchions and brackets, cause the whole
building rather to resemble a refuge from Alpine storm than the
cathedral of a populous city; and, internally, the two solemn mosaics of
the eastern and western extremities,--one representing the Last
Judgment, the other the Madonna, her tears falling as her hands are
raised to bless,--and the noble range of pillars which enclose the space
between, terminated by the high throne for the pastor and the
semicircular raised seats for the superior clergy, are expressive at
once of the deep sorrow and the sacred courage of men who had no home
left them upon earth, but who looked for one to come, of men "persecuted
but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed."

SECTION IV. For observe this choice of subjects. It is indeed possible
that the walls of the nave and aisles, which are now whitewashed, may
have been covered with fresco or mosaic, and thus have supplied a series
of subjects, on the choice of which we cannot speculate. I do not,
however, find record of the destruction of any such works; and I am
rather inclined to believe that at any rate the central division of the
building was originally, decorated, as it is now, simply by mosaics
representing Christ, the Virgin, and the apostles, at one extremity, and
Christ coming to judgment at the other. And if so, I repeat, observe the
significance of this choice. Most other early churches are covered with
imagery sufficiently suggestive of the vivid interest of the builders in
the history and occupations of the world. Symbols or representations of
political events, portraits of living persons, and sculptures of
satirical, grotesque, or trivial subjects are of constant occurrence,
mingled with the more strictly appointed representations of scriptural
or ecclesiastical history; but at Torcello even these usual, and one
should have thought almost necessary, successions of Bible events do not
appear. The mind of the worshipper was fixed entirely upon two great
facts, to him the most precious of all facts,--the present mercy of
Christ to His Church, and His future coming to judge the world. That
Christ's mercy was, at this period, supposed chiefly to be attainable
through the pleading of the Virgin, and that therefore beneath the
figure of the Redeemer is seen that of the weeping Madonna in the act of
intercession, may indeed be matter of sorrow to the Protestant beholder,
but ought not to blind him to the earnestness and singleness of the
faith with which these men sought their sea-solitudes; not in hope of
founding new dynasties, or entering upon new epochs of prosperity, but
only to humble themselves before God, and to pray that in His infinite
mercy He would hasten the time when the sea should give up the dead
which were in it, and Death and Hell give up the dead which were in
them, and when they might enter into the better kingdom, "where the
wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."

SECTION V. Nor were the strength and elasticity of their minds, even in
the least matters, diminished by thus looking forward to the close of
all things. On the contrary, nothing is more remarkable than the finish
and beauty of all the portions of the building, which seem to have been
actually executed for the place they occupy in the present structure.
The rudest are those which they brought with them from the mainland; the
best and most beautiful, those which appear to have been carved for
their island church: of these, the new capitals already noticed, and the
exquisite panel ornaments of the chancel screen, are the most
conspicuous; the latter form a low wall across the church between the
six small shafts whose places are seen in the plan, and serve to enclose
a space raised two steps above the level of the nave, destined for the
singers, and indicated also in the plan by an open line _a b c d_. The
bas-reliefs on this low screen are groups of peacocks and lions, two
face to face on each panel, rich and fantastic beyond description,
though not expressive of very accurate knowledge either of leonine or
pavonine forms. And it is not until we pass to the back of the stair of
the pulpit, which is connected with the northern extremity of this
screen, that we find evidence of the haste with which the church was

SECTION VI. The pulpit, however, is not among the least noticeable of
its features. It is sustained on the four small detached shafts marked
at _p_ in the plan, between the two pillars at the north side of
the screen; both pillars and pulpit studiously plain, while the
staircase which ascends to it is a compact mass of masonry (shaded in
the plan), faced by carved slabs of marble; the parapet of the staircase
being also formed of solid blocks like paving-stones, lightened by rich,
but not deep, exterior carving. Now these blocks, or at least those
which adorn the staircase towards the aisle, have been brought from the
mainland; and, being of size and shape not easily to be adjusted to the
proportions of the stair, the architect has cut out of them pieces of
the size he needed, utterly regardless of the subject or symmetry of the
original design. The pulpit is not the only place where this rough
procedure has been permitted: at the lateral door of the church are two
crosses, cut out of slabs of marble, formerly covered with rich
sculpture over their whole surfaces, of which portions are left on the
surface of the crosses; the lines of the original design being, of
course, just as arbitrarily cut by the incisions between the arms, as
the patterns upon a piece of silk which has been shaped anew. The fact
is, that in all early Romanesque work, large surfaces are covered with
sculpture for the sake of enrichment only; sculpture which indeed had
always meaning, because it was easier for the sculptor to work with some
chain of thought to guide his chisel, than without any; but it was not
always intended, or at least not always hoped, that this chain of
thought might be traced by the spectator. All that was proposed appears
to have been the enrichment of surface, so as to make it delightful to
the eye; and this being once understood, a decorated piece of marble
became to the architect just what a piece of lace or embroidery is to a
dressmaker, who takes of it such portions as she may require, with
little regard to the places where the patterns are divided. And though
it may appear, at first sight, that the procedure is indicative of
bluntness and rudeness of feeling,--we may perceive, upon reflection,
that it may also indicate the redundance of power which sets little
price upon its own exertion. When a barbarous nation builds its
fortress-walls out of fragments of the refined architecture it has
overthrown, we can read nothing but its savageness in the vestiges of
art which may thus chance to have been preserved; but when the new work
is equal, if not superior, in execution, to the pieces of the older art
which are associated with it, we may justly conclude that the rough
treatment to which the latter have been subjected is rather a sign of
the hope of doing better things, than of want of feeling for those
already accomplished. And, in general, this careless fitting of ornament
is, in very truth, an evidence of life in the school of builders, and of
their making a due distinction between work which is to be used for
architectural effect, and work which is to possess an abstract
perfection; and it commonly shows also that the exertion of design is so
easy to them, and their fertility so inexhaustible, that they feel no
remorse in using somewhat injuriously what they can replace with so
slight an effort.

SECTION VII. It appears however questionable in the present instance,
whether, if the marbles had not been carved to his hand, the architect
would have taken the trouble to enrich them. For the execution of the
rest of the pulpit is studiously simple, and it is in this respect that
its design possesses, it seems to me, an interest to the religious
spectator greater than he will take in any other portion of the
building. It is supported, as I said, on a group of four slender shafts;
itself of a slightly oval form, extending nearly from one pillar of the
nave to the next, so as to give the preacher free room for the action of
the entire person, which always gives an unaffected impressiveness to
the eloquence of the southern nations. In the centre of its curved
front, a small bracket and detached shaft sustain the projection of a
narrow marble desk (occupying the place of a cushion in a modern
pulpit), which is hollowed out into a shallow curve on the upper
surface, leaving a ledge at the bottom of the slab, so that a book laid
upon it, or rather into it, settles itself there, opening as if by
instinct, but without the least chance of slipping to the side, or in
any way moving beneath the preacher's hands. Six balls, or rather
almonds, of purple marble veined with white are set round the edge of
the pulpit, and form its only decoration. Perfectly graceful, but severe
and almost cold in its simplicity, built for permanence and service, so
that no single member, no stone of it, could be spared, and yet all are
firm and uninjured as when they were first set together, it stands in
venerable contrast both with the fantastic pulpits of mediaeval
cathedrals and with the rich furniture of those of our modern churches.
It is worth while pausing for a moment to consider how far the manner of
decorating a pulpit may have influence on the efficiency of its service,
and whether our modern treatment of this, to us all-important, feature
of a church be the best possible. [Footnote: Appendix V., "Modern

SECTION VIII. When the sermon is good we need not much concern ourselves
about the form of the pulpit. But sermons cannot always be good; and I
believe that the temper in which the congregation set themselves to
listen may be in some degree modified by their perception of fitness or
unfitness, impressiveness or vulgarity, in the disposition of the place
appointed for the speaker,--not to the same degree, but somewhat in the
same way, that they may be influenced by his own gestures or expression,
irrespective of the sense of what he says. I believe, therefore, in the
first place, that pulpits ought never to be highly decorated; the
speaker is apt to look mean or diminutive if the pulpit is either on a
very large scale or covered with splendid ornament, and if the interest
of the sermon should flag the mind is instantly tempted to wander. I
have observed that in almost all cathedrals, when the pulpits are
peculiarly magnificent, sermons are not often preached from them; but
rather, and especially if for any important purpose, from some temporary
erection in other parts of the building:--and though this may often be
done because the architect has consulted the effect upon the eye more
than the convenience of the ear in the placing of his larger pulpit, I
think it also proceeds in some measure from a natural dislike in the
preacher to match himself with the magnificence of the rostrum, lest the
sermon should not be thought worthy of the place. Yet this will rather
hold of the colossal sculptures, and pyramids of fantastic tracery which
encumber the pulpits of Flemish and German churches, than of the
delicate mosaics and ivory-like carving of the Romanesque basilicas, for
when the form is kept simple, much loveliness of color and costliness of
work may be introduced, and yet the speaker not be thrown into the shade
by them.

SECTION IX. But, in the second place, whatever ornaments we admit ought
clearly to be of a chaste, grave, and noble kind; and what furniture we
employ, evidently more for the honoring of God's word than for the ease
of the preacher. For there are two ways of regarding a sermon, either as
a human composition, or a Divine message. If we look upon it entirely as
the first, and require our clergymen to finish it with their utmost care
and learning, for our better delight whether of ear or intellect, we
shall necessarily be led to expect much formality and stateliness in its
delivery, and to think that all is not well if the pulpit have not a
golden fringe round it, and a goodly cushion in front of it, and if the
sermon be not fairly written in a black book, to be smoothed upon the
cushion in a majestic manner before beginning; all this we shall duly
come to expect: but we shall at the same time consider the treatise thus
prepared as something to which it is our duty to listen without
restlessness for half an hour or three quarters, but which, when that
duty has been decorously performed, we may dismiss from our minds in
happy confidence of being provided with another when next it shall be
necessary. But if once we begin to regard the preacher, whatever his
faults, as a man sent with a message to us, which it is a matter of life
or death whether we hear or refuse; if we look upon him as set in charge
over many spirits in danger of ruin, and having allowed to him but an
hour or two in the seven days to speak to them; if we make some endeavor
to conceive how precious these hours ought to be to him, a small vantage
on the side of God after his flock have been exposed for six days
together to the full weight of the world's temptation, and he has been
forced to watch the thorn and the thistle springing in their hearts, and
to see what wheat had been scattered there snatched from the wayside by
this wild bird and the other, and at last, when breathless and weary
with the week's labor they give him this interval of imperfect and
languid hearing, he has but thirty minutes to get at the separate hearts
of a thousand men, to convince them of all their weaknesses, to shame
them for all their sins, to warn them of all their dangers, to try by
this way and that to stir the hard fastenings of those doors where the
Master himself has stood and knocked yet none opened, and to call at the
openings of those dark streets where Wisdom herself hath stretched forth
her hands and no man regarded,--thirty minutes to raise the dead
in,--let us but once understand and feel this, and we shall look with
changed eyes upon that frippery of gay furniture about the place from
which the message of judgment must be delivered, which either breathes
upon the dry bones that they may live, or, if ineffectual, remains
recorded in condemnation, perhaps against the utterer and listener
alike, but assuredly against one of them. We shall not so easily bear
with the silk and gold upon the seat of judgment, nor with ornament of
oratory in the mouth of the messenger: we shall wish that his words may
be simple, even when they are sweetest, and the place from which he
speaks like a marble rock in the desert, about which the people have
gathered in their thirst.

SECTION X. But the severity which is so marked in the pulpit at Torcello
is still more striking in the raised seats and episcopal throne which
occupy the curve of the apse. The arrangement at first somewhat recalls
to the mind that of the Roman amphitheatres; the flight of steps which
lead up to the central throne divides the curve of the continuous steps
or seats (it appears in the first three ranges questionable which were
intended, for they seem too high for the one, and too low and close for
the other), exactly as in an amphitheatre the stairs for access
intersect the sweeping ranges of seats. But in the very rudeness of this
arrangement, and especially in the want of all appliances of comfort
(for the whole is of marble, and the arms of the central throne are not
for convenience, but for distinction, and to separate it more
conspicuously from the undivided seats), there is a dignity which no
furniture of stalls nor carving of canopies ever could attain, and well
worth the contemplation of the Protestant, both as sternly significative
of an episcopal authority which in the early days of the Church was
never disputed, and as dependent for all its impressiveness on the utter
absence of any expression either of pride or self-indulgence.

SECTION XI. But there is one more circumstance which we ought to
remember as giving peculiar significance to the position which the
episcopal throne occupies in this island church, namely, that in the
minds of all early Christians the Church itself was most frequently
symbolized under the image of a ship, of which the bishop was the pilot.
Consider the force which this symbol would assume in the imaginations of
men to whom the spiritual Church had become an ark of refuge in the
midst of a destruction hardly less terrible than that from which the
eight souls were saved of old, a destruction in which the wrath of man
had become as broad as the earth and as merciless as the sea, and who
saw the actual and literal edifice of the Church raked up, itself like
an ark in the midst of the waters. No marvel if with the surf of the
Adriatic rolling between them and the shores of their birth, from which
they were separated for ever, they should have looked upon each other as
the disciples did when the storm came down on the Tiberias Lake, and
have yielded ready and loving obedience to those who ruled them in His
name, who had there rebuked the winds and commanded stillness to the
sea. And if the stranger would yet learn in what spirit it was that the
dominion of Venice was begun, and in what strength she went forth
conquering and to conquer, let him not seek to estimate the wealth of
her arsenals or number of her armies, nor look upon the pageantry of her
palaces, nor enter into the secrets of her councils; but let him ascend
the highest tier of the stern ledges that sweep round the altar of
Torcello, and then, looking as the pilot did of old along the marble
ribs of the goodly temple-ship, let him repeople its veined deck with
the shadows of its dead mariners, and strive to feel in himself the
strength of heart that was kindled within them, when first, after the
pillars of it had settled in the sand, and the roof of it had been
closed against the angry sky that was still reddened by the fires of
their homesteads,--first, within the shelter of its knitted walls,
amidst the murmur of the waste of waves and the beating of the wings of
the sea-birds round the rock that was strange to them,--rose that
ancient hymn, in the power of their gathered voices:




SECTION I. "And so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus." If as
the shores of Asia lessened upon his sight, the spirit of prophecy had
entered into the heart of the weak disciple who had turned back when his
hand was on the plough, and who had been judged, by the chiefest of
Christ's captains, unworthy thenceforward to go forth with him to the
work, [Footnote: Acts, xiii. 13; xv. 38, 39.] how wonderful would he
have thought it, that by the lion symbol in future ages he was to be
represented among men! how woful, that the war-cry of his name should so
often reanimate the rage of the soldier, on those very plains where he
himself had failed in the courage of the Christian, and so often dye
with fruitless blood that very Cypriot Sea, over whose waves, in
repentance and shame, he was following the Son of Consolation!

SECTION II. That the Venetians possessed themselves of his body in the
ninth century, there appears no sufficient reason to doubt, nor that it
was principally in consequence of their having done so, that they chose
him for their patron saint. There exists, however, a tradition that
before he went into Egypt he had founded the Church at Aquileia, and was
thus, in some sort, the first bishop of the Venetian isles and people. I
believe that this tradition stands on nearly as good grounds as that of
St. Peter having been the first bishop of Rome; [Footnote: The reader
who desires to investigate it may consult Galliciolli, "Delle Memorie
Venete" (Venice, 1795), tom. ii. p. 332, and the authorities quoted by
him.] but, as usual, it is enriched by various later additions and
embellishments, much resembling the stories told respecting the church
of Murano. Thus we find it recorded by the Santo Padre who compiled the
"Vite de' Santi spettanti alle Chiese di Venezia," [Footnote: Venice,
1761, tom. i. p. 126.] that "St. Mark having seen the people of Aquileia
well grounded in religion, and being called to Rome by St. Peter, before
setting off took with him the holy bishop Hermagoras, and went in a
small boat to the marshes of Venice. There were at that period some
houses built upon a certain high bank called Rialto, and the boat being
driven by the wind was anchored in a marshy place, when St. Mark,
snatched into ecstasy, heard the voice of an angel saying to him: 'Peace
be to thee, Mark; here shall thy body rest.'" The angel goes on to
foretell the building of "una stupenda, ne piu veduta Citta;" but the
fable is hardly ingenious enough to deserve farther relation.

SECTION III. But whether St. Mark was first bishop of Aquileia or not,
St. Theodore was the first patron of the city; nor can he yet be
considered as having entirely abdicated his early right, as his statue,
standing on a crocodile, still companions the winged lion on the
opposing pillar of the piazzetta. A church erected to this Saint is said
to have occupied, before the ninth century, the site of St. Mark's; and
the traveller, dazzled by the brilliancy of the great square, ought not
to leave it without endeavoring to imagine its aspect in that early
time, when it was a green field cloister-like and quiet, [Footnote: St.
Mark's Place, "partly covered by turf, and planted with a few trees; and
on account of its pleasant aspect called Brollo or Broglio, that is to
say, Garden." The canal passed through it, over which is built the
bridge of the Malpassi. Galliciolli, lib. I, cap. viii.] divided by a
small canal, with a line of trees on each side; and extending between
the two churches of St. Theodore and St. Geminian, as the little piazza,
of Torcello lies between its "palazzo" and cathedral.

SECTION IV. But in the year 813, when the seat of government was finally
removed to the Rialto, a Ducal Palace, built on the spot where the
present one stands, with a Ducal Chapel beside it, [Footnote: My
authorities for this statement are given below, in the chapter on the
Ducal Palace.] gave a very different character to the Square of St.
Mark; and fifteen years later, the acquisition of the body of the Saint,
and its deposition in the Ducal Chapel, perhaps not yet completed,
occasioned the investiture of that chapel with all possible splendor.
St. Theodore was deposed from his patronship, and his church destroyed,
to make room for the aggrandizement of the one attached to the Ducal
Palace, and thenceforward known as "St. Mark's." [Footnote: In the
Chronicles, "Sancti Marci Ducalis Cappella."]

SECTION V. This first church was however destroyed by fire, when the
Ducal Palace was burned in the revolt against Candiano, in 976. It was
partly rebuilt by his successor, Pietro Orseolo, on a larger scale; and
with the assistance of Byzantine architects, the fabric was carried on
under successive Doges for nearly a hundred years; the main building
being completed in 1071, but its incrustation with marble not till
considerably later. It was consecrated on the 8th of October, 1085,
[Footnote: "To God the Lord, the glorious Virgin Annunciate, and the
Protector St. Mark."--_Corner_, p. 14. It is needless to trouble the
reader with the various authorities for the above statements: I have
consulted the best. The previous inscription once existing on the church

  "Anno milleno transacto bisque trigeno
  Desuper undecimo fuit facta primo,"

is no longer to be seen, and is conjectured by Corner, with much
probability, to have perished "in qualche ristauro."] according to
Sansovino and the author of the "Chiesa Ducale di S. Marco," in 1094
according to Lazari, but certainly between 1084 and 1096, those years
being the limits of the reign of Vital Falier; I incline to the
supposition that it was soon after his accession to the throne in 1085,
though Sansovino writes, by mistake, Ordelafo instead of Vital Falier.
But, at all events, before the close of the eleventh century the great
consecration of the church took place. It was again injured by fire in
1106, but repaired; and from that time to the fall of Venice there was
probably no Doge who did not in some slight degree embellish or alter
the fabric, so that few parts of it can be pronounced boldly to be of
any given date. Two periods of interference are, however, notable above
the rest: the first, that in which the Gothic school had superseded the
Byzantine towards the close of the fourteenth century, when the
pinnacles, upper archivolts, and window traceries were added to the
exterior, and the great screen, with various chapels and
tabernacle-work, to the interior; the second, when the Renaissance
school superseded the Gothic, and the pupils of Titian and Tintoret
substituted, over one half of the church, their own compositions for the
Greek mosaics with which it was originally decorated; [Footnote: Signed
Bartolomeus Bozza, 1634, 1647, 1656, etc.] happily, though with no good
will, having left enough to enable us to imagine and lament what they
destroyed. Of this irreparable loss we shall have more to say hereafter;
meantime, I wish only to fix in the reader's mind the succession of
periods of alteration as firmly and simply as possible.

SECTION VI. We have seen that the main body of the church may be broadly
stated to be of the eleventh century, the Gothic additions of the
fourteenth, and the restored mosaics of the seventeenth. There is no
difficulty in distinguishing at a glance the Gothic portions from the
Byzantine; but there is considerable difficulty in ascertaining how
long, during the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,
additions were made to the Byzantine church, which cannot be easily
distinguished from the work of the eleventh century, being purposely
executed in the same manner. Two of the most important pieces of
evidence on this point are, a mosaic in the south transept, and another
over the northern door of the facade; the first representing the
interior, the second the exterior, of the ancient church.

SECTION VII. It has just been stated that the existing building was
consecrated by the Doge Vital Falier. A peculiar solemnity was given to
that of consecration, in the minds of the Venetian people, by what
appears to have been one of the best arranged and most successful
impostures ever attempted by the clergy of the Romish church. The body
of St. Mark had, without doubt, perished in the conflagration of 976;
but the revenues of the church depended too much upon the devotion
excited by these relics to permit the confession of their loss. The
following is the account given by Corner, and believed to this day by
the Venetians, of the pretended miracle by which it was concealed.

"After the repairs undertaken by the Doge Orseolo, the place in which
the body of the holy Evangelist rested had been altogether forgotten, so
that the Doge Vital Falier was entirely ignorant of the place of the
venerable deposit. This was no light affliction, not only to the pious
Doge, but to all the citizens and people; so that at last, moved by
confidence in the Divine mercy, they determined to implore, with prayer
and fasting, the manifestation of so great a treasure, which did not now
depend upon any human effort. A general fast being therefore proclaimed,
and a solemn procession appointed for the 25th day of June, while the
people assembled in the church interceded with God in fervent prayers
for the desired boon, they beheld, with as much amazement as joy, a
slight shaking in the marbles of a pillar (near the place where the
altar of the Cross is now), which, presently falling to the earth,
exposed to the view of the rejoicing people the chest of bronze in which
the body of the Evangelist was laid."

SECTION VIII. Of the main facts of this tale there is no doubt. They
were embellished afterwards, as usual, by many fanciful traditions; as,
for instance, that, when the sarcophagus was discovered, St. Mark
extended his hand out of it, with a gold ring on one of the fingers,
which he permitted a noble of the Dolfin family to remove; and a quaint
and delightful story was further invented of this ring, which I shall
not repeat here, as it is now as well known as any tale of the Arabian
Nights. But the fast and the discovery of the coffin, by whatever means
effected, are facts; and they are recorded in one of the best-preserved
mosaics of the north transept, executed very certainly not long after
the event had taken place, closely resembling in its treatment that of
the Bayeux tapestry, and showing, in a conventional manner, the interior
of the church, as it then was, filled by the people, first in prayer,
then in thanksgiving, the pillar standing open before them, and the
Doge, in the midst of them, distinguished by his crimson bonnet
embroidered with gold, but more unmistakably by the inscription "Dux"
over his head, as uniformly is the case in the Bayeux tapestry, and most
other pictorial works of the period. The church is, of course, rudely
represented, and the two upper stories of it reduced to a small scale in
order to form a background to the figures; one of those bold pieces of
picture history which we in our pride of perspective, and a thousand
things besides, never dare attempt. We should have put in a column or
two of the real or perspective size, and subdued it into a vague
background: the old workman crushed the church together that he might
get it all in, up to the cupolas; and has, therefore, left us some
useful notes of its ancient form, though any one who is familiar with
the method of drawing employed at the period will not push the evidence
too far. The two pulpits are there, however, as they are at this day,
and the fringe of mosaic flowerwork which then encompassed the whole
church, but which modern restorers have destroyed, all but one fragment
still left in the south aisle. There is no attempt to represent the
other mosaics on the roof, the scale being too small to admit of their
being represented with any success; but some at least of those mosaics
had been executed at that period, and their absence in the
representation of the entire church is especially to be observed, in
order to show that we must not trust to any negative evidence in such
works. M. Lazari has rashly concluded that the central archivolt of St.
Mark's _must_ be posterior to the year 1205, because it does not
appear in the representation of the exterior of the church over the
northern door; [Footnote: Guida di Venezia, p. 6. (He is right,
however.)] but he justly observes that this mosaic (which is the other
piece of evidence we possess respecting the ancient form of the
building) cannot itself be earlier than 1205, since it represents the
bronze horses which were brought from Constantinople in that year. And
this one fact renders it very difficult to speak with confidence
respecting the date of any part of the exterior of St. Mark's; for we
have above seen that it was consecrated in the eleventh century, and yet
here is one of the most important exterior decorations assuredly
retouched, if not entirely added, in the thirteenth, although its style
would have led us to suppose it had been an original part of the fabric.
However, for all our purposes, it will be enough for the reader to
remember that the earliest parts of the building belong to the eleventh,
twelfth, and first part of the thirteenth century; the Gothic portions
to the fourteenth; some of the altars and embellishments to the
fifteenth and sixteenth; and the modern portion of the mosaics to the

SECTION IX. This, however, I only wish him to recollect in order that I
may speak generally of the Byzantine architecture of St. Mark's, without
leading him to suppose the whole church to have been built and decorated
by Greek artists. Its later portions, with the single exception of the
seventeenth century mosaics, have been so dexterously accommodated to
the original fabric that the general effect is still that of a Byzantine
building; and I shall not, except when it is absolutely necessary,
direct attention to the discordant points, or weary the reader with
anatomical criticism. Whatever in St. Mark's arrests the eye, or affects
the feelings, is either Byzantine, or has been modified by Byzantine
influence; and our inquiry into its architectural merits need not
therefore be disturbed by the anxieties of antiquarianism, or arrested
by the obscurities of chronology.

SECTION X. And now I wish that the reader, before I bring him into St.
Mark's Place, would imagine himself for a little time in a quiet English
cathedral town, and walk with me to the west front of its cathedral. Let
us go together up the more retired street, at the end of which we can
see the pinnacles of one of the towers, and then through the low gray
gateway, with its battlemented top and small latticed window in the
centre, into the inner private-looking road or close, where nothing goes
in but the carts of the tradesmen who supply the bishop and the chapter,
and where there are little shaven grass-plots, fenced in by neat rails,
before old-fashioned groups of somewhat diminutive and excessively trim
houses, with little oriel and bay windows jutting out here and there,
and deep wooden cornices and eaves painted cream color and white, and
small porches to their doors in the shape of cockle-shells, or little,
crooked, thick, indescribable wooden gables warped a little on one side;
and so forward till we come to larger houses, also old-fashioned, but of
red brick, and with gardens behind them, and fruit walls, which show
here and there, among the nectarines, the vestiges of an old cloister
arch or shaft, and looking in front on the cathedral square itself, laid
out in rigid divisions of smooth grass and gravel walk, yet not
uncheerful, especially on the sunny side where the canons' children are
walking with their nurserymaids. And so, taking care not to tread on the
grass, we will go along the straight walk to the west front, and there
stand for a time, looking up at its deep-pointed porches and the dark
places between their pillars where there were statues once, and where
the fragments, here and there, of a stately figure are still left, which
has in it the likeness of a king, perhaps indeed a king on earth,
perhaps a saintly king long ago in heaven; and so higher and higher up
to the great mouldering wall of rugged sculpture and confused arcades,
shattered, and gray, and grisly with heads of dragons and mocking
fiends, worn by the rain and swirling winds into yet unseemlier shape,
and colored on their stony scales by the deep russet-orange lichen,
melancholy gold; and so, higher still, to the bleak towers, so far above
that the eye loses itself among the bosses of their traceries, though
they are rude and strong, and only sees like a drift of eddying black
points, now closing, now scattering, and now settling suddenly into
invisible places among the bosses and flowers, the crowd of restless
birds that fill the whole square with that strange clangor of theirs, so
harsh and yet so soothing, like the cries of birds on a solitary coast
between the cliffs and sea.

SECTION XI. Think for a little while of that scene, and the meaning of
all its small formalisms, mixed with its serene sublimity. Estimate its
secluded, continuous, drowsy felicities, and its evidence of the sense
and steady performance of such kind of duties as can be regulated by the
cathedral clock; and weigh the influence of those dark towers on all who
have passed through the lonely square at their feet for centuries, and
on all who have seen them rising far away over the wooded plain, or
catching on their square masses the last rays of the sunset, when the
city at their feet was indicated only by the mist at the bend of the
river. And then let us quickly recollect that we are in Venice, and land
at the extremity of the Calle Lunga San Moise, which may be considered
as there answering to the secluded street that led us to our English
cathedral gateway.

SECTION XII. We find ourselves in a paved alley, some seven feet wide
where it is widest, full of people, and resonant with cries of itinerant
salesmen,--a shriek in their beginning, and dying away into a kind of
brazen ringing, all the worse for its confinement between the high
houses of the passage along which we have to make our way. Over head an
inextricable confusion of rugged shutters, and iron balconies and
chimney flues pushed out on brackets to save room, and arched windows
with projecting sills of Istrian stone, and gleams of green leaves here
and there where a fig-tree branch escapes over a lower wall from some
inner cortile, leading the eye up to the narrow stream of blue sky high
over all. On each side, a row of shops, as densely set as may be,
occupying, in fact, intervals between the square stone shafts, about
eight feet high, which carry the first floors: intervals of which one is
narrow and serves as a door; the other is, in the more respectable
shops, wainscoted to the height of the counter and glazed above, but in
those of the poorer tradesmen left open to the ground, and the wares
laid on benches and tables in the open air, the light in all cases
entering at the front only,--and fading away in a few feet from the
threshold into a gloom which the eye from without cannot penetrate, but
which is generally broken by a ray or two from a feeble lamp at the back
of the shop, suspended before a print of the Virgin. The less pious
shop-keeper sometimes leaves his lamp unlighted, and is contented with a
penny print; the more religious one has his print colored and set in a
little shrine with a gilded or figured fringe, with perhaps a faded
flower or two on each side, and his lamp burning brilliantly. Here at
the fruiterer's, where the dark-green watermelons are heaped upon the
counter like cannon balls, the Madonna has a tabernacle of fresh laurel
leaves; but the pewterer next door has let his lamp out, and there is
nothing to be seen in his shop but the dull gleam of the studded
patterns on the copper pans, hanging from his roof in the darkness. Next
comes a "Vendita Frittole e Liquori," where the Virgin, enthroned in a
very humble manner beside a tallow candle on a back shelf, presides over
certain ambrosial morsels of a nature too ambiguous to be denned or
enumerated. But a few steps farther on, at the regular wineshop of the
calle, where we are offered "Vino Nostrani a Soldi 28'32," the Madonna
is in great glory, enthroned above ten or a dozen large red casks of
three-year-old vintage, and flanked by goodly ranks of bottles of
Maraschino, and two crimson lamps; and for the evening, when the
gondoliers will come to drink out, under her auspices, the money they
have gained during the day, she will have a whole chandelier.

SECTION XIII. A yard or two farther, we pass the hostelry of the Black
Eagle, and, glancing as we pass through the square door of marble,
deeply moulded, in the outer wall, we see the shadows of its pergola of
vines resting on an ancient well, with a pointed shield carved on its
side; and so presently emerge on the bridge and Campo San Moise, whence
to the entrance into St. Mark's Place, called the Bocca di Piazza,
(mouth of the square), the Venetian character is nearly destroyed, first
by the frightful facade of San Moise, which we will pause at another
time to examine, and then by the modernizing of the shops as they near
the piazza, and the mingling with the lower Venetian populace of
lounging groups of English and Austrians. We will push fast through them
into the shadow of the pillars at the end of the "Bocca di Piazza," and
then we forget them all; for between those pillars there opens a great
light, and, in the midst of it, as we advance slowly, the vast tower of
St. Mark seems to lift itself visibly forth from the level field of
chequered stones; and, on each side, the countless arches prolong
themselves into ranged symmetry, as if the rugged and irregular houses
that pressed together above us in the dark alley had been struck back
into sudden obedience and lovely order, and all their rude casements and
broken walls had been transformed into arches charged with goodly
sculpture, and fluted shafts of delicate stone.

SECTION XIV. And well may they fall back, for beyond those troops of
ordered arches there rises a vision out of the earth, and all the great
square seems to have opened from it in a kind of awe, that we may see it
far away;--a multitude of pillars and white domes, clustered into a long
low pyramid of colored light; a treasure-heap, it seems, partly of gold,
and partly of opal and mother-of-pearl, hollowed beneath into five great
vaulted porches, ceiled with fair mosaic, and beset with sculpture of
alabaster, clear as amber and delicate as ivory,--sculpture fantastic
and involved, of palm leaves and lilies, and grapes and pomegranates,
and birds clinging and fluttering among the branches, all twined
together into an endless network of buds and plumes; and, in the midst
of it, the solemn forms of angels, sceptred, and robed to the feet, and
leaning to each other across the gates, their figures indistinct among
the gleaming of the golden ground through the leaves beside them,
interrupted and dim, like the morning light as it faded back among the
branches of Eden, when first its gates were angel-guarded long ago. And
round the walls of the porches there are set pillars of variegated
stones, jasper and porphyry, and deep-green serpentine spotted with
flakes of snow, and marbles, that half refuse and half yield to the
sunshine, Cleopatra-like, "their bluest veins to kiss"--the shadow, as
it steals back from them, revealing line after line of azure undulation,
as a receding tide leaves the waved sand; their capitals rich with
interwoven tracery, rooted knots of herbage, and drifting leaves of
acanthus and vine, and mystical signs, all beginning and ending in the
Cross; and above them, in the broad archivolts, a continuous chain of
language and of life--angels, and the signs of heaven, and the labors of
men, each in its appointed season upon the earth; and above these,
another range of glittering pinnacles, mixed with white arches edged
with scarlet flowers,--a confusion of delight, amidst which the breasts
of the Greek horses are seen blazing in their breadth of golden
strength, and the St. Mark's Lion, lifted on a blue field covered with
stars, until at last, as if in ecstasy, the crests of the arches break
into a marble foam, and toss themselves far into the blue sky in flashes
and wreaths of sculptured spray, as if the breakers on the Lido shore
had been frost-bound before they fell, and the sea-nymphs had inlaid
them with coral and amethyst.

Between that grim cathedral of England and this, what an interval! There
is a type of it in the very birds that haunt them; for, instead of the
restless crowd, hoarse-voiced and sable-winged, drifting on the bleak
upper air, the St. Mark's porches are full of doves, that nestle among
the marble foliage, and mingle the soft iridescence of their living
plumes, changing at every motion, with the tints, hardly less lovely,
that have stood unchanged for seven hundred years.

SECTION XV. And what effect has this splendor on those who pass beneath
it? You may walk from sunrise to sunset, to and fro, before the gateway
of St. Mark's, and you will not see an eye lifted to it, nor a
countenance brightened by it. Priest and layman, soldier and civilian,
rich and poor, pass by it alike regardlessly. Up to the very recesses of
the porches, the meanest tradesmen of the city push their counters; nay,
the foundations of its pillars are themselves the seats--not "of them
that sell doves" for sacrifice, but of the vendors of toys and
caricatures. Round the whole square in front of the church there is
almost a continuous line of cafes, where the idle Venetians of the
middle classes lounge, and read empty journals; in its centre the
Austrian bands play during the time of vespers, their martial music
jarring with the organ notes,--the march drowning the miserere, and the
sullen crowd thickening round them,--a crowd, which, if it had its will,
would stiletto every soldier that pipes to it. And in the recesses of
the porches, all day long, knots of men of the lowest classes,
unemployed and listless, lie basking in the sun like lizards; and
unregarded children,--every heavy glance of their young eyes full of
desperation and stony depravity, and their throats hoarse with
cursing,--gamble, and fight, and snarl, and sleep, hour after hour,
clashing their bruised centesimi upon the marble ledges of the church
porch. And the images of Christ and His angels look down upon it

That we may not enter the church out of the midst of the horror of this,
let us turn aside under the portico which looks towards the sea, and
passing round within the two massive pillars brought from St. Jean
d'Acre, we shall find the gate of the Baptistery; let us enter there.
The heavy door closes behind us instantly, and the light, and the
turbulence of the Piazzetta, are together shut out by it.

SECTION XVI. We are in a low vaulted room; vaulted, not with arches, but
with small cupolas starred with gold, and chequered with gloomy figures:
in the centre is a bronze font charged with rich bas-reliefs, a small
figure of the Baptist standing above it in a single ray of light that
glances across the narrow room, dying as it falls from a window high in
the wall, and the first thing that it strikes, and the only thing that
it strikes brightly, is a tomb. We hardly know if it be a tomb indeed;
for it is like a narrow couch set beside the window, low-roofed and
curtained, so that it might seem, but that it has some height above the
pavement, to have been drawn towards the window, that the sleeper might
be wakened early;--only there are two angels who have drawn the curtain
back, and are looking down upon him. Let us look also and thank that
gentle light that rests upon his forehead for ever, and dies away upon
his breast.

The face is of a man in middle life, but there are two deep furrows
right across the forehead, dividing it like the foundations of a tower:
the height of it above is bound by the fillet of the ducal cap. The rest
of the features are singularly small and delicate, the lips sharp,
perhaps the sharpness of death being added to that of the natural lines;
but there is a sweet smile upon them, and a deep serenity upon the whole
countenance. The roof of the canopy above has been blue, filled with
stars; beneath, in the centre of the tomb on which the figure rests, is
a seated figure of the Virgin, and the border of it all around is of
flowers and soft leaves, growing rich and deep, as if in a field in

It is the Doge Andrea Dandolo, a man early great among the great of
Venice; and early lost. She chose him for her king in his 36th year; he
died ten years later, leaving behind him that history to which we owe
half of what we know of her former fortunes.

SECTION XVII. Look round at the room in which he lies. The floor of it
is of rich mosaic, encompassed by a low seat of red marble, and its
walls are of alabaster, but worn and shattered, and darkly stained with
age, almost a ruin,--in places the slabs of marble have fallen away
altogether, and the rugged brickwork is seen through the rents, but all
beautiful; the ravaging fissures fretting their way among the islands
and channelled zones of the alabaster, and the time-stains on its
translucent masses darkened into fields of rich golden brown, like the
color of seaweed when the sun strikes on it through deep sea. The light
fades away into the recess of the chamber towards the altar, and the eye
can hardly trace the lines of the bas-relief behind it of the baptism of
Christ: but on the vaulting of the roof the figures are distinct, and
there are seen upon it two great circles, one surrounded by the
"Principalities and powers in heavenly places," of which Milton has
expressed the ancient division in the single massy line,

  "Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,"

and around the other, the Apostles; Christ the centre of both; and upon
the walls, again and again repeated, the gaunt figure of the Baptist, in
every circumstance of his life and death; and the streams of the Jordan
running down between their cloven rocks; the axe laid to the root of a
fruitless tree that springs upon their shore. "Every tree that bringeth
not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire." Yes,
verily: to be baptized with fire, or to be cast therein; it is the
choice set before all men. The march-notes still murmur through the
grated window, and mingle with the sounding in our ears of the sentence
of judgment, which the old Greek has written on that Baptistery wall.
Venice has made her choice.

SECTION XVIII. He who lies under that stony canopy would have taught her
another choice, in his day, if she would have listened to him; but he
and his counsels have long been forgotten by her, the dust lies upon his

Through the heavy door whose bronze network closes the place of his
rest, let us enter the church itself. It is lost in still deeper
twilight, to which the eye must be accustomed for some moments before
the form of the building can be traced; and then there opens before us a
vast cave, hewn out into the form of a Cross, and divided into shadowy
aisles by many pillars. Round the domes of its roof the light enters
only through narrow apertures like large stars; and here and there a ray
or two from some far away casement wanders into the darkness, and casts
a narrow phosphoric stream upon the waves of marble that heave and fall
in a thousand colors along the floor. What else there is of light is
from torches, or silver lamps, burning ceaselessly in the recesses of
the chapels; the roof sheeted with gold, and the polished walls covered
with alabaster, give back at every curve and angle some feeble gleaming
to the flames; and the glories round the heads of the sculptured saints
flash out upon us as we pass them, and sink again into the gloom. Under
foot and over head, a continual succession of crowded imagery, one
picture passing into another, as in a dream; forms beautiful and
terrible mixed together; dragons and serpents, and ravening beasts of
prey, and graceful birds that in the midst of them drink from running
fountains and feed from vases of crystal; the passions and the pleasures
of human life symbolized together, and the mystery of its redemption;
for the mazes of interwoven lines and changeful pictures lead always at
last to the Cross, lifted and carved in every place and upon every
stonel sometimes with the serpent of eternity wrapt round it, sometimes
with doves beneath its arms, and sweet herbage growing forth from its
feet; but conspicuous most of all on the great rood that crosses the
church before the altar, raised in bright blazonry against the shadow of
the apse. And although in the recesses of the aisles and chapels, when
the mist of the incense hangs heavily, we may see continually a figure
traced in faint lines upon their marble, a woman standing with her eyes
raised to heaven, and the inscription above her, "Mother of God," she is
not here the presiding deity. It is the Cross that is first seen, and
always, burning in the centre of the temple; and every dome and hollow
of its roof has the figure of Christ in the utmost height of it, raised
in power, or returning in judgment.

SECTION XIX. Nor is this interior without effect on the minds of the
people. At every hour of the day there are groups collected before the
various shrines, and solitary worshippers scattered through the dark
places of the church, evidently in prayer both deep and reverent, and,
for the most part, profoundly sorrowful. The devotees at the greater
number of the renowned shrines of Romanism may be seen murmuring their
appointed prayers with wandering eyes and unengaged gestures; but the
step of the stranger does not disturb those who kneel on the pavement of
St. Mark's; and hardly a moment passes, from early morning to sunset, in
which we may not see some half-veiled figure enter beneath the Arabian
porch, cast itself into long abasement on the floor of the temple, and
then rising slowly with more confirmed step, and with a passionate kiss
and clasp of the arms given to the feet of the crucifix, by which the
lamps burn always in the northern aisle, leave the church, as if

SECTION XX. But we must not hastily conclude from this that the nobler
characters of the building have at present any influence in fostering a
devotional spirit. There is distress enough in Venice to bring many to
their knees, without excitement from external imagery; and whatever
there may be in the temper of the worship offered in St. Mark's more
than can be accounted for by reference to the unhappy circumstances of
the city, is assuredly not owing either to the beauty of its
architecture or to the impressiveness of the Scripture histories
embodied in its mosaics. That it has a peculiar effect, however slight,
on the popular mind, may perhaps be safely conjectured from the number
of worshippers which it attracts, while the churches of St. Paul and the
Frari, larger in size and more central in position, are left
comparatively empty. [Footnote: The mere warmth of St. Mark's in winter,
which is much greater than that of the other two churches above named,
must, however, be taken into consideration, as one of the most efficient
causes of its being then more frequented.] But this effect is altogether
to be ascribed to its richer assemblage of those sources of influence
which address themselves to the commonest instincts of the human mind,
and which, in all ages and countries, have been more or less employed in
the support of superstition. Darkness and mystery; confused recesses of
building; artificial light employed in small quantity, but maintained
with a constancy which seems to give it a kind of sacredness;
preciousness of material easily comprehended by the vulgar eye; close
air loaded with a sweet and peculiar odor associated only with religious
services, solemn music, and tangible idols or images having popular
legends attached to them,--these, the stage properties of superstition,
which have been from the beginning of the world, and must be to the end
of it, employed by all nations, whether openly savage or nominally
civilized, to produce a false awe in minds incapable of apprehending the
true nature of the Deity, are assembled in St. Mark's to a degree, as
far as I know, unexampled in any other European church. The arts of the
Magus and the Brahmin are exhausted in the animation of a paralyzed
Christianity; and the popular sentiment which these arts excite is to be
regarded by us with no more respect than we should have considered
ourselves justified in rendering to the devotion of the worshippers at
Eleusis, Ellora, or Edfou. [Footnote: I said above that the larger
number of the devotees entered by the "Arabian" porch; the porch, that
is to say, on the north side of the church, remarkable for its rich
Arabian archivolt, and through which access is gained immediately to the
northern transept. The reason is, that in that transept is the chapel of
the Madonna, which has a greater attraction for the Venetians than all
the rest of the church besides. The old builders kept their images of
the Virgin subordinate to those of Christ; but modern Romanism has
retrograded from theirs, and the most glittering portions of the whole
church are the two recesses behind this lateral altar, covered with
silver hearts dedicated to the Virgin.]

SECTION XXI. Indeed, these inferior means of exciting religious emotion
were employed in the ancient Church as they are at this day, but not
employed alone. Torchlight there was, as there is now; but the
torchlight illumined Scripture histories on the walls, which every eye
traced and every heart comprehended, but which, during my whole
residence in Venice, I never saw one Venetian regard for an instant. I
never heard from any one the most languid expression of interest in any
feature of the church, or perceived the slightest evidence of their
understanding the meaning of its architecture; and while, therefore, the
English cathedral, though no longer dedicated to the kind of services
for which it was intended by its builders, and much at variance in many
of its characters with the temper of the people by whom it is now
surrounded, retains yet so much of its religious influence that no
prominent feature of its architecture can be said to exist altogether in
vain, we have in St. Mark's a building apparently still employed in the
ceremonies for which it was designed, and yet of which the impressive
attributes have altogether ceased to be comprehended by its votaries.
The beauty which it possesses is unfelt, the language it uses is
forgotten; and in the midst of the city to whose service it has so long
been consecrated, and still filled by crowds of the descendants of those
to whom it owes its magnificence; it stands, in reality, more desolate
than the ruins through which the sheep-walk passes unbroken in our
English valleys; and the writing on its marble walls is less regarded
and less powerful for the teaching of men, than the letters which the
shepherd follows with his finger, where the moss is lightest on the
tombs in the desecrated cloister.

SECTION XXII. It must therefore be altogether without reference to its
present usefulness, that we pursue our inquiry into the merits and
meaning of the architecture of this marvellous building; and it can only
be after we have terminated that inquiry, conducting it carefully on
abstract grounds, that we can pronounce with any certainty how far the
present neglect of St. Mark's is significative of the decline of the
Venetian character, or how far this church is to be considered as the
relic of a barbarous age, incapable of attracting the admiration, or
influencing the feelings of a civilized community.

The inquiry before us is twofold. Throughout the first volume, I
carefully kept the study of _expression_ distinct from that of abstract
architectural perfection; telling the reader that in every building we
should afterwards examine, he would have first to form a judgment of its
construction and decorative merit, considering it merely as a work of
art; and then to examine farther, in what degree it fulfilled its
expressional purposes. Accordingly, we have first to judge of St. Mark's
merely as a piece of architecture, not as a church; secondly, to estimate
its fitness for its special duty as a place of worship, and the relation
in which it stands, as such, to those northern cathedrals that still
retain so much of the power over the human heart, which the Byzantine
domes appear to have lost for ever.

SECTION XXIII. In the two succeeding sections of this work, devoted
respectively to the examination of the Gothic and Renaissance buildings
in Venice, I have endeavored to analyze and state, as briefly as
possible, the true nature of each school,--first in Spirit, then in
Form. I wished to have given a similar analysis, in this section, of the
nature of Byzantine architecture; but could not make my statements
general, because I have never seen this kind of building on its native
soil. Nevertheless, in the following sketch of the principles
exemplified in St. Mark's, I believe that most of the leading features
and motives of the style will be found clearly enough distinguished to
enable the reader to judge of it with tolerable fairness, as compared
with the better known systems of European architecture in the middle

SECTION XXIV. Now the first broad characteristic of the building, and
the root nearly of every other important peculiarity in it, is its
confessed _incrustation_. It is the purest example in Italy of the
great school of architecture in which the ruling principle is the
incrustation of brick with more precious materials; and it is necessary
before we proceed to criticise any one of its arrangements, that the
reader should carefully consider the principles which are likely to have
influenced, or might legitimately influence, the architects of such a
school, as distinguished from those whose designs are to be executed in
massive materials.

It is true, that among different nations, and at different times, we may
find examples of every sort and degree of incrustation, from the mere
setting of the larger and more compact stones by preference at the
outside of the wall, to the miserable construction of that modern brick
cornice, with its coating of cement, which, but the other day, in
London, killed its unhappy workmen in its fall. [Footnote: Vide
"Builder," for October, 1851.] But just as it is perfectly possible to
have a clear idea of the opposing characteristics of two different
species of plants or animals, though between the two there are varieties
which it is difficult to assign either to the one or the other, so the
reader may fix decisively in his mind the legitimate characteristics of
the incrusted and the massive styles, though between the two there are
varieties which confessedly unite the attributes of both. For instance,
in many Roman remains, built of blocks of tufa and incrusted with
marble, we have a style, which, though truly solid, possesses some of
the attributes of incrustation; and in the Cathedral of Florence, built
of brick and coated with marble, the marble facing is so firmly and
exquisitely set, that the building, though in reality incrusted, assumes
the attributes of solidity. But these intermediate examples need not in
the least confuse our generally distinct ideas of the two families of
buildings: the one in which the substance is alike throughout, and the
forms and conditions of the ornament assume or prove that it is so, as
in the best Greek buildings, and for the most part in our early Norman
and Gothic; and the other, in which the substance is of two kinds, one
internal, the other external, and the system of decoration is founded on
this duplicity, as pre-eminently in St. Mark's.

SECTION XXV. I have used the word duplicity in no depreciatory sense. In
chapter ii. of the "Seven Lamps," Section 18, I especially guarded this
incrusted school from the imputation of insincerity, and I must do so
now at greater length. It appears insincere at first to a Northern
builder, because, accustomed to build with solid blocks of freestone, he
is in the habit of supposing the external superficies of a piece of
masonry to be some criterion of its thickness. But, as soon as he gets
acquainted with the incrusted style, he will find that the Southern
builders had no intention to deceive him. He will see that every slab of
facial marble is fastened to the next by a confessed _rivet_, and that
the joints of the armor are so visibly and openly accommodated to the
contours of the substance within, that he has no more right to complain
of treachery than a savage would have, who, for the first time in his
life seeing a man in armor, had supposed him to be made of solid steel.
Acquaint him with the customs of chivalry, and with the uses of the coat
of mail, and he ceases to accuse of dishonesty either the panoply or the

These laws and customs of the St. Mark's architectural chivalry it must
be our business to develop.

SECTION XXVI. First, consider the natural circumstances which give rise
to such a style. Suppose a nation of builders, placed far from any
quarries of available stone, and having precarious access to the
mainland where they exist; compelled therefore either to build entirely
with brick, or to import whatever stone they use from great distances,
in ships of small tonnage, and for the most part dependent for speed on
the oar rather than the sail. The labor and cost of carriage are just as
great, whether they import common or precious stone, and therefore the
natural tendency would always be to make each shipload as valuable as
possible. But in proportion to the preciousness of the stone, is the
limitation of its possible supply; limitation not determined merely by
cost, but by the physical conditions of the material, for of many
marbles, pieces above a certain size are not to be had for money. There
would also be a tendency in such circumstances to import as much stone
as possible ready sculptured, in order to save weight; and therefore, if
the traffic of their merchants led them to places where there were ruins
of ancient edifices, to ship the available fragments of them home. Out
of this supply of marble, partly composed of pieces of so precious a
quality that only a few tons of them could be on any terms obtained, and
partly of shafts, capitals, and other portions of foreign buildings, the
island architect has to fashion, as best he may, the anatomy of his
edifice. It is at his choice either to lodge his few blocks of precious
marble here and there among his masses of brick, and to cut out of the
sculptured fragments such new forms as may be necessary for the
observance of fixed proportions in the new building; or else to cut the
colored stones into thin pieces, of extent sufficient to face the whole
surface of the walls, and to adopt a method of construction irregular
enough to admit the insertion of fragmentary sculptures; rather with a
view of displaying their intrinsic beauty, than of setting them to any
regular service in the support of the building.

An architect who cared only to display his own skill, and had no respect
for the works of others, would assuredly have chosen the former
alternative, and would have sawn the old marbles into fragments in order
to prevent all interference with his own designs. But an architect who
cared for the preservation of noble work, whether his own or others',
and more regarded the beauty of his building than his own fame, would
have done what those old builders of St. Mark's did for us, and saved
every relic with which he was entrusted.

SECTION XXVII. But these were not the only motives which influenced the
Venetians in the adoption of their method of architecture. It might,
under all the circumstances above stated, have been a question with
other builders, whether to import one shipload of costly jaspers, or
twenty of chalk flints; and whether to build a small church faced with
porphyry and paved with agate, or to raise a vast cathedral in
freestone. But with the Venetians it could not be a question for an
instant; they were exiles from ancient and beautiful cities, and had
been accustomed to build with their ruins, not less in affection than in
admiration: they had thus not only grown familiar with the practice of
inserting older fragments in modern buildings, but they owed to that
practice a great part of the splendor of their city, and whatever charm
of association might aid its change from a Refuge into a Home. The
practice which began in the affections of a fugitive nation, was
prolonged in the pride of a conquering one; and beside the memorials of
departed happiness, were elevated the trophies of returning victory. The
ship of war brought home more marble in triumph than 'the merchant
vessel in speculation; and the front of St. Mark's became rather a
shrine at which to dedicate the splendor of miscellaneous spoil, than
the organized expression of any fixed architectural law, or religious

SECTION XXVIII. Thus far, however, the justification of the style of
this church depends on circumstances peculiar to the time of its
erection, and to the spot where it arose. The merit of its method,
considered in the abstract, rests on far broader grounds.

In the fifth chapter of the "Seven Lamps," Section 14, the reader will
find the opinion of a modern architect of some reputation, Mr. Wood,
that the chief thing remarkable in this church "is its extreme
ugliness;" and he will find this opinion associated with another,
namely, that the works of the Caracci are far preferable to those of the
Venetian painters. This second statement of feeling reveals to us one of
the principal causes of the first; namely, that Mr. Wood had not any
perception of color, or delight in it. The perception of color is a gift
just as definitely granted to one person, and denied to another, as an
ear for music; and the very first requisite for true judgment of St.
Mark's, is the perfection of that color-faculty which few people ever
set themselves seriously to find out whether they possess or not. For it
is on its value as a piece of perfect and unchangeable coloring, that
the claims of this edifice to our respect are finally rested; and a deaf
man might as well pretend to pronounce judgment on the merits of a full
orchestra, as an architect trained in the composition of form only, to
discern the beauty of St. Mark's. It possesses the charm of color in
common with the greater part of the architecture, as well as of the
manufactures, of the East; but the Venetians deserve especial note as
the only European people who appear to have sympathized to the full with
the great instinct of the Eastern races. They indeed were compelled to
bring artists from Constantinople to design the mosaics of the vaults of
St. Mark's, and to group the colors of its porches; but they rapidly
took up and developed, under more masculine conditions, the system of
which the Greeks had shown them the example: while the burghers and
barons of the North were building their dark streets and grisly castles
of oak and sandstone, the merchants of Venice were covering their
palaces with porphyry and gold; and at last, when her mighty painters
had created for her a color more priceless than gold or porphyry, even
this, the richest of her treasures, she lavished upon walls whose
foundations were beaten by the sea; and the strong tide, as it runs
beneath the Rialto, is reddened to this day by the reflection of the
frescoes of Giorgione.

SECTION XXIX. If, therefore, the reader does not care for color, I must
protest against his endeavor to form any judgment whatever of this
church of St. Mark's. But, if he both cares for and loves it, let him
remember that the school of incrusted architecture is _the only one in
which perfect and permanent chromatic decoration is possible_; and
let him look upon every piece of jasper and alabaster given to the
architect as a cake of very hard color, of which a certain portion is to
be ground down or cut off, to paint the walls with. Once understand this
thoroughly, and accept the condition that the body and availing strength
of the edifice are to be in brick, and that this under muscular power of
brickwork is to be clothed with the defence and the brightness of the
marble, as the body of an animal is protected and adorned by its scales
or its skin, and all the consequent fitnesses and laws of the structure
will be easily discernible. These I shall state in their natural order.

SECTION XXX. LAW I. _That the plinths and cornices used for binding
the armor are to be light and delicate._ A certain thickness, at
least two or three inches, must be required in the covering pieces (even
when composed of the strongest stone, and set on the least exposed
parts), in order to prevent the chance of fracture, and to allow for the
wear of time. And the weight of this armor must not be trusted to
cement; the pieces must not be merely glued to the rough brick surface,
but connected with the mass which they protect by binding cornices and
string courses; and with each other, so as to secure mutual support,
aided by the rivetings, but by no means dependent upon them. And, for
the full honesty and straightforwardness of the work, it is necessary
that these string courses and binding plinths should not be of such
proportions as would fit them for taking any important part in the hard
work of the inner structure, or render them liable to be mistaken for
the great cornices and plinths already explained as essential parts of
the best solid building. They must be delicate, slight, and visibly
incapable of severer work than that assigned to them.

SECTION XXXI. LAW II. _Science of inner structure is to be abandoned._ As
the body of the structure is confessedly of inferior, and comparatively
incoherent materials, it would be absurd to attempt in it any expression
of the higher refinements of construction. It will be enough that by its
mass we are assured of its sufficiency and strength; and there is the
less reason for endeavoring to diminish the extent of its surface by
delicacy of adjustment, because on the breadth of that surface we are to
depend for the better display of the color, which is to be the chief
source of our pleasure in the building. The main body of the work,
therefore, will be composed of solid walls and massive piers; and
whatever expression of finer structural science we may require, will be
thrown either into subordinate portions of it, or entirely directed to
the support of the external mail, where in arches or vaults it might
otherwise appear dangerously independent of the material within.

SECTION XXXII. LAW III. _All shafts are to be solid._ Wherever, by the
smallness of the parts, we may be driven to abandon the incrusted
structure at all, it must be abandoned altogether. The eye must never be
left in the least doubt as to what is solid and what is coated. Whatever
appears _probably_ solid, must be _assuredly_ so, and therefore it
becomes an inviolable law that no shaft shall ever be incrusted. Not only
does the whole virtue of a shaft depend on its consolidation, but the
labor of cutting and adjusting an incrusted coat to it would be greater
than the saving of material is worth. Therefore the shaft, of whatever
size, is always to be solid; and because the incrusted character of the
rest of the building renders it more difficult for the shafts to clear
themselves from suspicion, they must not, in this incrusted style, be in
any place jointed. No shaft must ever be used but of one block; and this
the more, because the permission given to the builder to have his walls
and piers as ponderous as he likes, renders it quite unnecessary for him
to use shafts of any fixed size. In our Norman and Gothic, where definite
support is required at a definite point, it becomes lawful to build up a
tower of small stones in the shape of a shaft. But the Byzantine is
allowed to have as much support as he wants from the walls in every
direction, and he has no right to ask for further license in the
structure of his shafts. Let him, by generosity in the substance of his
pillars, repay us for the permission we have given him to be superficial
in his walls. The builder in the chalk valleys of France and England may
be blameless in kneading his clumsy pier out of broken flint and calcined
lime; but the Venetian, who has access to the riches of Asia and the
quarries of Egypt, must frame at least his shafts out of flawless stone.

SECTION XXXIII. And this for another reason yet. Although, as we have
said, it is impossible to cover the walls of a large building with
color, except on the condition of dividing the stone into plates, there
is always a certain appearance of meanness and niggardliness in the
procedure. It is necessary that the builder should justify himself from
this suspicion; and prove that it is not in mere economy or poverty, but
in the real impossibility of doing otherwise, that he has sheeted his
walls so thinly with the precious film. Now the shaft is exactly the
portion of the edifice in which it is fittest to recover his honor in
this respect. For if blocks of jasper or porphyry be inserted in the
walls, the spectator cannot tell their thickness, and cannot judge of
the costliness of the sacrifice. But the shaft he can measure with his
eye in an instant, and estimate the quantity of treasure both in the
mass of its existing substance, and in that which has been hewn away to
bring it into its perfect and symmetrical form. And thus the shafts of
all buildings of this kind are justly regarded as an expression of their
wealth, and a form of treasure, just as much as the jewels or gold in
the sacred vessels; they are, in fact, nothing else than large jewels,
[Footnote: "Quivi presso si vedi una colonna di tanta bellezza e finezza
che e riputato _piutosto gioia che pietra_,"--Sansovino, of the
verd-antique pillar in San Jacomo dell' Orio. A remarkable piece of
natural history and moral philosophy, connected with this subject, will
be found in the second chapter of our third volume, quoted from the work
of a Florentine architect of the fifteenth century.] the block of
precious serpentine or jasper being valued according to its size and
brilliancy of color, like a large emerald or ruby; only the bulk
required to bestow value on the one is to be measured in feet and tons,
and on the other in lines and carats. The shafts must therefore be,
without exception, of one block in all buildings of this kind; for the
attempt in any place to incrust or joint them would be a deception like
that of introducing a false stone among jewellery (for a number of
joints of any precious stone are of course not equal in value to a
single piece of equal weight), and would put an end at once to the
spectator's confidence in the expression of wealth in any portion of the
structure, or of the spirit of sacrifice in those who raised it.

SECTION XXXIV. LAW IV. _The shafts may sometimes be independent of the
construction._ Exactly in proportion to the importance which the
shaft assumes as a large jewel, is the diminution of its importance as a
sustaining member; for the delight which we receive in its abstract
bulk, and beauty of color, is altogether independent of any perception
of its adaptation to mechanical necessities. Like other beautiful things
in this world, its end is to _be_ beautiful; and, in proportion to
its beauty, it receives permission to be otherwise useless. We do not
blame emeralds and rubies because we cannot make them into heads of
hammers. Nay, so far from our admiration of the jewel shaft being
dependent on its doing work for us, it is very possible that a chief
part of its preciousness may consist in a delicacy, fragility, and
tenderness of material, which must render it utterly unfit for hard
work; and therefore that we shall admire it the more, because we
perceive that if we were to put much weight upon it, it would be
crushed. But, at all events, it is very clear that the primal object in
the placing of such shafts must be the display of their beauty to the
best advantage, and that therefore all imbedding of them in walls, or
crowding of them into groups, in any position in which either their real
size or any portion of their surface would be concealed, is either
inadmissible together, or objectionable in proportion to their value;
that no symmetrical or scientific arrangements of pillars are therefore
ever to be expected in buildings of this kind, and that all such are
even to be looked upon as positive errors and misapplications of
materials: but that, on the contrary, we must be constantly prepared to
see, and to see with admiration, shafts of great size and importance set
in places where their real service is little more than nominal, and
where the chief end of their existence is to catch the sunshine upon
their polished sides, and lead the eye into delighted wandering among
the mazes of their azure veins.

SECTION XXXV. LAW V. _The shafts may be of variable size._ Since
the value of each shaft depends upon its bulk, and diminishes with the
diminution of its mass, in a greater ratio than the size itself
diminishes, as in the case of all other jewellery, it is evident that we
must not in general expect perfect symmetry and equality among the
series of shafts, any more than definiteness of application; but that,
on the contrary, an accurately observed symmetry ought to give us a kind
of pain, as proving that considerable and useless loss has been
sustained by some of the shafts, in being cut down to match with the
rest. It is true that symmetry is generally sought for in works of
smaller jewellery; but, even there, not a perfect symmetry, and obtained
under circumstances quite different from those which affect the placing
of shafts in architecture. First: the symmetry is usually imperfect. The
stones that seem to match each other in a ring or necklace, appear to do
so only because they are so small that their differences are not easily
measured by the eye; but there is almost always such difference between
them as would be strikingly apparent if it existed in the same
proportion between two shafts nine or ten feet in height. Secondly: the
quantity of stones which pass through a jeweller's hands, and the
facility of exchange of such small objects, enable the tradesman to
select any number of stones of approximate size; a selection, however,
often requiring so much time, that perfect symmetry in a group of very
fine stones adds enormously to their value. But the architect has
neither the time nor the facilities of exchange. He cannot lay aside one
column in a corner of his church till, in the course of traffic, he
obtain another that will match it; he has not hundreds of shafts
fastened up in bundles, out of which he can match sizes at his ease; he
cannot send to a brother-tradesman and exchange the useless stones for
available ones, to the convenience of both. His blocks of stone, or his
ready hewn shafts, have been brought to him in limited number, from
immense distances; no others are to be had; and for those which he does
not bring into use, there is no demand elsewhere. His only means of
obtaining symmetry will therefore be, in cutting down the finer masses
to equality with the inferior ones; and this we ought not to desire him
often to do. And therefore, while sometimes in a Baldacchino, or an
important chapel or shrine, this costly symmetry may be necessary, and
admirable in proportion to its probable cost, in the general fabric we
must expect to see shafts introduced of size and proportion continually
varying, and such symmetry as may be obtained among them never
altogether perfect, and dependent for its charm frequently on strange
complexities and unexpected rising and falling of weight and accent in
its marble syllables; bearing the same relation to a rigidly chiselled
and proportioned architecture that the wild lyric rhythm of Aeschylus or
Pindar bears to the finished measures of Pope.

SECTION XXXVI. The application of the principles of jewellery to the
smaller as well as the larger blocks, will suggest to us another reason
for the method of incrustation adopted in the walls. It often happens
that the beauty of the veining in some varieties of alabaster is so
great, that it becomes desirable to exhibit it by dividing the stone,
not merely to economize its substance, but to display the changes in the
disposition of its fantastic lines. By reversing one of two thin plates
successively taken from the stone, and placing their corresponding edges
in contact, a perfectly symmetrical figure may be obtained, which will
enable the eye to comprehend more thoroughly the position of the veins.
And this is actually the method in which, for the most part, the
alabasters of St. Mark are employed; thus accomplishing a double
good,--directing the spectator, in the first place, to close observation
of the nature of the stone employed, and in the second, giving him a
farther proof of the honesty of intention in the builder: for wherever
similar veining is discovered in two pieces, the fact is declared that
they have been cut from the same stone. It would have been easy to
disguise the similarity by using them in different parts of the
building; but on the contrary they are set edge to edge, so that the
whole system of the architecture may be discovered at a glance by any
one acquainted with the nature of the stones employed. Nay, but, it is
perhaps answered me, not by an ordinary observer; a person ignorant of
the nature of alabaster might perhaps fancy all these symmetrical
patterns to have been found in the stone itself, and thus be doubly
deceived, supposing blocks to be solid and symmetrical which were in
reality subdivided and irregular. I grant it; but be it remembered, that
in all things, ignorance is liable to be deceived, and has no right to
accuse anything but itself as the source of the deception. The style and
the words are dishonest, not which are liable to be misunderstood if
subjected to no inquiry, but which are deliberately calculated to lead
inquiry astray. There are perhaps no great or noble truths, from those
of religion downwards, which present no mistakable aspect to casual or
ignorant contemplation. Both the truth and the lie agree in hiding
themselves at first, but the lie continues to hide itself with effort,
as we approach to examine it; and leads us, if undiscovered, into deeper
lies; the truth reveals itself in proportion to our patience and
knowledge, discovers itself kindly to our pleading, and leads us, as it
is discovered, into deeper truths.

SECTION XXXVII. LAW VI. _The decoration must be shallow in
cutting._ The method of construction being thus systematized, it is
evident that a certain style of decoration must arise out of it, based
on the primal condition that over the greater part of the edifice there
can be _no deep cutting_. The thin sheets of covering stones do not
admit of it; we must not cut them through to the bricks; and whatever
ornaments we engrave upon them cannot, therefore, be more than an inch
deep at the utmost. Consider for an instant the enormous differences
which this single condition compels between the sculptural decoration of
the incrusted style, and that of the solid stones of the North, which
may be hacked and hewn into whatever cavernous hollows and black
recesses we choose; struck into grim darknesses and grotesque
projections, and rugged ploughings up of sinuous furrows, in which any
form or thought may be wrought out on any scale,--mighty statues with
robes of rock and crowned foreheads burning in the sun, or venomous
goblins and stealthy dragons shrunk into lurking-places of untraceable
shade: think of this, and of the play and freedom given to the
sculptor's hand and temper, to smite out and in, hither and thither, as
he will; and then consider what must be the different spirit of the
design which is to be wrought on the smooth surface of a film of marble,
where every line and shadow must be drawn with the most tender
pencilling and cautious reserve of resource,--where even the chisel must
not strike hard, lest it break through the delicate stone, nor the mind
be permitted in any impetuosity of conception inconsistent with the fine
discipline of the hand. Consider that whatever animal or human form is
to be suggested, must be projected on a flat surface; that all the
features of the countenance, the folds of the drapery, the involutions
of the limbs, must be so reduced and subdued that the whole work becomes
rather a piece of fine drawing than of sculpture; and then follow out,
until you begin to perceive their endlessness, the resulting differences
of character which will be necessitated in every part of the ornamental
designs of these incrusted churches, as compared with that of the
Northern schools. I shall endeavor to trace a few of them only.

SECTION XXXVIII. The first would of course be a diminution of the
builder's dependence upon human form as a source of ornament: since
exactly in proportion to the dignity of the form itself is the loss
which it must sustain in being reduced to a shallow and linear
bas-relief, as well as the difficulty of expressing it at all under such
conditions. Wherever sculpture can be solid, the nobler characters of
the human form at once lead the artist to aim at its representation,
rather than at that of inferior organisms; but when all is to be reduced
to outline, the forms of flowers and lower animals are always more
intelligible, and are felt to approach much more to a satisfactory
rendering of the objects intended, than the outlines of the human body.
This inducement to seek for resources of ornament in the lower fields of
creation was powerless in the minds of the great Pagan nations,
Ninevite, Greek, or Egyptian: first, because their thoughts were so
concentrated on their own capacities and fates, that they preferred the
rudest suggestion of human form to the best of an inferior organism;
secondly, because their constant practice in solid sculpture, often
colossal, enabled them to bring a vast amount of science into the
treatment of the lines, whether of the low relief, the monochrome vase,
or shallow hieroglyphic.

SECTION XXXIX. But when various ideas adverse to the representation of
animal, and especially of human, form, originating with the Arabs and
iconoclast Greeks, had begun at any rate to direct the builders' minds
to seek for decorative materials in inferior types, and when diminished
practice in solid sculpture had rendered it more difficult to find
artists capable of satisfactorily reducing the high organisms to their
elementary outlines, the choice of subject for surface sculpture would
be more and more uninterruptedly directed to floral organisms, and human
and animal form would become diminished in size, frequency, and general
importance. So that, while in the Northern solid architecture we
constantly find the effect of its noblest features dependent on ranges
of statues, often colossal, and full of abstract interest, independent
of their architectural service, in the Southern incrusted style we must
expect to find the human form for the most part subordinate and
diminutive, and involved among designs of foliage and flowers, in the
manner of which endless examples had been furnished by the fantastic
ornamentation of the Romans, from which the incrusted style had been
directly derived.

SECTION XL. Farther. In proportion to the degree in which his subject
must be reduced to abstract outline will be the tendency in the sculptor
to abandon naturalism of representation, and subordinate every form to
architectural service. Where the flower or animal can be hewn into bold
relief, there will always be a temptation to render the representation
of it more complete than is necessary, or even to introduce details and
intricacies inconsistent with simplicity of distant effect. Very often a
worse fault than this is committed; and in the endeavor to give vitality
to the stone, the original ornamental purpose of the design is
sacrificed or forgotten. But when nothing of this kind can be attempted,
and a slight outline is all that the sculptor can command, we may
anticipate that this outline will be composed with exquisite grace; and
that the richness of its ornamental arrangement will atone for the
feebleness of its power of portraiture. On the porch of a Northern
cathedral we may seek for the images of the flowers that grow in the
neighboring fields, and as we watch with wonder the gray stones that
fret themselves into thorns, and soften into blossoms, we may care
little that these knots of ornament, as we retire from them to
contemplate the whole building, appear unconsidered or confused. On the
incrusted building we must expect no such deception of the eye or
thoughts. It may sometimes be difficult to determine, from the
involutions of its linear sculpture, what were the natural forms which
originally suggested them: but we may confidently expect that the grace
of their arrangement will always be complete; that there will not be a
line in them which could be taken away without injury, nor one wanting
which could be added with advantage.

SECTION XLI. Farther. While the sculptures of the incrusted school will
thus be generally distinguished by care and purity rather than force,
and will be, for the most part, utterly wanting in depth of shadow,
there will be one means of obtaining darkness peculiarly simple and
obvious, and often in the sculptor's power. Wherever he can, without
danger, leave a hollow behind his covering slabs, or use them, like
glass, to fill an aperture in the wall, he can, by piercing them with
holes, obtain points or spaces of intense blackness to contrast with the
light tracing of the rest of his design. And we may expect to find this
artifice used the more extensively, because, while it will be an
effective means of ornamentation on the exterior of the building, it
will be also the safest way of admitting light to the interior, still
totally excluding both rain and wind. And it will naturally follow that
the architect, thus familiarized with the effect of black and sudden
points of shadow, will often seek to carry the same principle into other
portions of his ornamentation, and by deep drill-holes, or perhaps
inlaid portions of black color, to refresh the eye where it may be
wearied by the lightness of the general handling.

SECTION XLII. Farther. Exactly in proportion to the degree in which the
force of sculpture is subdued, will be the importance attached to color
as a means of effect or constituent of beauty. I have above stated that
the incrusted style was the only one in which perfect or permanent color
decoration was _possible_. It is also the only one in which a true
system of color decoration was ever likely to be invented. In order to
understand this, the reader must permit me to review with some care the
nature of the principles of coloring adopted by the Northern and
Southern nations.

SECTION XLIII. I believe that from the beginning of the world there has
never been a true or fine school of art in which color was despised. It
has often been imperfectly attained and injudiciously applied, but I
believe it to be one of the essential signs of life in a school of art,
that it loves color; and I know it to be one of the first signs of death
in the Renaissance schools, that they despised color.

Observe, it is not now the question whether our Northern cathedrals are
better with color or without. Perhaps the great monotone gray of Nature
and of Time is a better color than any that the human hand can give; but
that is nothing to our present business. The simple fact is, that the
builders of those cathedrals laid upon them the brightest colors they
could obtain, and that there is not, as far as I am aware, in Europe,
any monument of a truly noble school which has not been either painted
all over, or vigorously touched with paint, mosaic, and gilding in its
prominent parts. Thus far Egyptians, Greeks, Goths, Arabs, and mediaeval
Christians all agree: none of them, when in their right senses, ever
think of doing without paint; and, therefore, when I said above that the
Venetians were the only people who had thoroughly sympathized with the
Arabs in this respect, I referred, first, to their intense love of
color, which led them to lavish the most expensive decorations on
ordinary dwelling-houses; and, secondly, to that perfection of the
color-instinct in them, which enabled them to render whatever they did,
in this kind, as just in principle as it was gorgeous in appliance. It
is this principle of theirs, as distinguished from that of the Northern
builders, which we have finally to examine.

SECTION XLIV. In the second chapter of the first volume, it was noticed
that the architect of Bourges Cathedral liked hawthorn, and that the
porch of his cathedral was therefore decorated with a rich wreath of it;
but another of the predilections of that architect was there unnoticed,
namely, that he did not at all like _gray_ hawthorn, but preferred
it green, and he painted it green accordingly, as bright as he could.
The color is still left in every sheltered interstice of the foliage. He
had, in fact, hardly the choice of any other color; he might have gilded
the thorns, by way of allegorizing human life, but if they were to be
painted at all, they could hardly be painted anything but green, and
green all over. People would have been apt to object to any pursuit of
abstract harmonies of color, which might have induced him to paint his
hawthorn blue.

SECTION XLV. In the same way, whenever the subject of the sculpture was
definite, its color was of necessity definite also; and, in the hands of
the Northern builders, it often became, in consequence, rather the means
of explaining and animating the stories of their stone-work, than a
matter of abstract decorative science. Flowers were painted red, trees
green, and faces flesh-color; the result of the whole being often far
more entertaining than beautiful. And also, though in the lines of the
mouldings and the decorations of shafts or vaults, a richer and more
abstract method of coloring was adopted (aided by the rapid development
of the best principles of color in early glass-painting), the vigorous
depths of shadow in the Northern sculpture confused the architect's eye,
compelling him to use violent colors in the recesses, if these were to
be seen as color at all, and thus injured his perception of more
delicate color harmonies; so that in innumerable instances it becomes
very disputable whether monuments even of the best times were improved
by the color bestowed upon them, or the contrary. But, in the South, the
flatness and comparatively vague forms of the sculpture, while they
appeared to call for color in order to enhance their interest, presented
exactly the conditions which would set it off to the greatest advantage;
breadth or surface displaying even the most delicate tints in the
lights, and faintness of shadow joining with the most delicate and
pearly grays of color harmony; while the subject of the design being in
nearly all cases reduced to mere intricacy of ornamental line, might be
colored in any way the architect chose without any loss of rationality.
Where oak-leaves and roses were carved into fresh relief and perfect
bloom, it was necessary to paint the one green and the other red; but in
portions of ornamentation where there was nothing which could be
definitely construed into either an oak-leaf or a rose, but a mere
labyrinth of beautiful lines, becoming here something like a leaf, and
there something like a flower, the whole tracery of the sculpture might
be left white, and grounded with gold or blue, or treated in any other
manner best harmonizing with the colors around it. And as the
necessarily feeble character of the sculpture called for and was ready
to display the best arrangements of color, so the precious marbles in
the architect's hands give him at once the best examples and the best
means of color. The best examples, for the tints of all natural stones
are as exquisite in quality as endless in change; and the best means,
for they are all permanent.

SECTION XLVI. Every motive thus concurred in urging him to the study of
chromatic decoration, and every advantage was given him in the pursuit
of it; and this at the very moment when, as presently to be noticed, the
_naivete_ of barbaric Christianity could only be forcibly appealed
to by the help of colored pictures: so that, both externally and
internally, the architectural construction became partly merged in
pictorial effect; and the whole edifice is to be regarded less as a
temple wherein to pray, than as itself a Book of Common Prayer, a vast
illuminated missal, bound with alabaster instead of parchment, studded
with porphyry pillars instead of jewels, and written within and without
in letters of enamel and gold.

SECTION XLVII. LAW VII. _That the impression of the architecture is
not to be dependent on size._ And now there is but one final
consequence to be deduced. The reader understands, I trust, by this
time, that the claims of these several parts of the building upon his
attention will depend upon their delicacy of design, their perfection of
color, their preciousness of material, and their legendary interest. All
these qualities are independent of size, and partly even inconsistent
with it. Neither delicacy of surface sculpture, nor subtle gradations of
color, can be appreciated by the eye at a distance; and since we have
seen that our sculpture is generally to be only an inch or two in depth,
and that our coloring is in great part to be produced with the soft
tints and veins of natural stones, it will follow necessarily that none
of the parts of the building can be removed far from the eye, and
therefore that the whole mass of it cannot be large. It is not even
desirable that it should be so; for the temper in which the mind
addresses itself to contemplate minute and beautiful details is
altogether different from that in which it submits itself to vague
impressions of space and size. And therefore we must not be
disappointed, but grateful, when we find all the best work of the
building concentrated within a space comparatively small; and that, for
the great cliff-like buttresses and mighty piers of the North, shooting
up into indiscernible height, we have here low walls spread before us
like the pages of a book, and shafts whose capitals we may touch with
our hand.

SECTION XLVIII. The due consideration of the principles above stated
will enable the traveller to judge with more candor and justice of the
architecture of St. Mark's than usually it would have been possible for
him to do while under the influence of the prejudices necessitated by
familiarity with the very different schools of Northern art. I wish it
were in my power to lay also before the general reader some
exemplification of the manner in which these strange principles are
developed in the lovely building. But exactly in proportion to the
nobility of any work, is the difficulty of conveying a just impression
of it: and wherever I have occasion to bestow high praise, there it is
exactly most dangerous for me to endeavor to illustrate my meaning,
except by reference to the work itself. And, in fact, the principal
reason why architectural criticism is at this day so far behind all
other, is the impossibility of illustrating the best architecture
faithfully. Of the various schools of painting, examples are accessible
to every one, and reference to the works themselves is found sufficient
for all purposes of criticism; but there is nothing like St. Mark's or
the Ducal Palace to be referred to in the National Gallery, and no
faithful illustration of them is possible on the scale of such a volume
as this. And it is exceedingly difficult on any scale. Nothing is so
rare in art, as far as my own experience goes, as a fair illustration of
architecture; _perfect_ illustration of it does not exist. For all
good architecture depends upon the adaptation of its chiselling to the
effect at a certain distance from the eye; and to render the peculiar
confusion in the midst of order, and uncertainty in the midst of
decision, and mystery in the midst of trenchant lines, which are the
result of distance, together with perfect expression of the
peculiarities of the design, requires the skill of the most admirable
artist, devoted to the work with the most severe conscientiousness,
neither the skill nor the determination having as yet been given to the
subject. And in the illustration of details, every building of any
pretensions to high architectural rank would require a volume of plates,
and those finished with extraordinary care. With respect to the two
buildings which are the principal subjects of the present volume, St.
Mark's and the Ducal Palace, I have found it quite impossible to do them
the slightest justice by any kind of portraiture; and I abandoned the
endeavor in the case of the latter with less regret, because in the new
Crystal Palace (as the poetical public insist upon calling it, though it
is neither a palace, nor of crystal) there will be placed, I believe, a
noble cast of one of its angles. As for St. Mark's, the effort was
hopeless from the beginning. For its effect depends not only upon the
most delicate sculpture in every part, out, as we have just stated,
eminently on its color also, and that the most subtle, variable,
inexpressible color in the world,--the color of glass, of transparent
alabaster, of polished marble, and lustrous gold. It would be easier to
illustrate a crest of Scottish mountain, with its purple heather and
pale harebells at their fullest and fairest, or a glade of Jura forest,
with its floor of anemone and moss, than a single portico of St. Mark's.
The fragment of one of its archivolts, given at the bottom of the
opposite Plate, is not to illustrate the thing itself, but to illustrate
the impossibility of illustration.

SECTION XLIX. It is left a fragment, in order to get it on a larger
scale; and yet even on this scale it is too small to show the sharp
folds and points of the marble vine-leaves with sufficient clearness.
The ground of it is gold, the sculpture in the spandrils is not more
than an inch and a half deep, rarely so much. It is in fact nothing more
than an exquisite sketching of outlines in marble, to about the same
depth as in the Elgin frieze; the draperies, however, being filled with
close folds, in the manner of the Byzantine pictures, folds especially
necessary here, as large masses could not be expressed in the shallow
sculpture without becoming insipid; but the disposition of these folds
is always most beautiful, and often opposed by broad and simple spaces,
like that obtained by the scroll in the hand of the prophet seen in the

The balls in the archivolt project considerably, and the interstices
between their interwoven bands of marble are filled with colors like the
illuminations of a manuscript; violet, crimson, blue, gold, and green
alternately: but no green is ever used without an intermixture of blue
pieces in the mosaic, nor any blue without a little centre of pale
green; sometimes only a single piece of glass a quarter of an inch
square, so subtle was the feeling for color which was thus to be
satisfied. [Footnote: The fact is, that no two tesserae of the glass are
exactly of the same tint, the greens being all varied with blues, the
blues of different depths, the reds of different clearness, so that the
effect of each mass of color is full of variety, like the stippled color
of a fruit piece.] The intermediate circles have golden stars set on an
azure ground, varied in the same manner; and the small crosses seen in
the intervals are alternately blue and subdued scarlet, with two small
circles of white set in the golden ground above and beneath them, each
only about half an inch across (this work, remember, being on the
outside of the building, and twenty feet above the eye), while the blue
crosses have each a pale green centre. Of all this exquisitely mingled
hue, no plate, however large or expensive, could give any adequate
conception; but, if the reader will supply in imagination to the
engraving what he supplies to a common woodcut of a group of flowers,
the decision of the respective merits of modern and of Byzantine
architecture may be allowed to rest on this fragment of St. Mark's

From the vine-leaves of that archivolt, though there is no direct
imitation of nature in them, but on the contrary a studious subjection
to architectural purpose more particularly to be noticed hereafter, we
may yet receive the same kind of pleasure which we have in seeing true
vine-leaves and wreathed branches traced upon golden light; its stars
upon their azure ground ought to make us remember, as its builder
remembered, the stars that ascend and fall in the great arch of the sky:
and I believe that stars, and boughs, and leaves, and bright colors are
everlastingly lovely, and to be by all men beloved; and, moreover, that
church walls grimly seared with squared lines, are not better nor nobler
things than these. I believe the man who designed and the men who
delighted in that archivolt to have been wise, happy, and holy. Let the
reader look back to the archivolt I have already given out of the
streets of London (Plate XIII. Vol. I., Stones of Venice), and see what
there is in it to make us any of the three. Let him remember that the
men who design such work as that call St. Mark's a barbaric monstrosity,
and let him judge between us.

SECTION L. Some farther details of the St. Mark's architecture, and
especially a general account of Byzantine capitals, and of the principal
ones at the angles of the church, will be found in the following
chapter. [Footnote: Some illustration, also, of what was said in SECTION
XXXIII above, respecting the value of the shafts of St. Mark's as large
jewels, will be found in Appendix 9, "Shafts of St. Mark's."] Here I
must pass on to the second part of our immediate subject, namely, the
inquiry how far the exquisite and varied ornament of St. Mark's fits it,
as a Temple, for its sacred purpose, and would be applicable in the
churches of modern times. We have here evidently two questions: the
first, that wide and continually agitated one, whether richness of
ornament be right in churches at all; the second, whether the ornament
of St. Mark's be of a truly ecclesiastical and Christian character.

SECTION LI. In the first chapter of the "Seven Lamps of Architecture" I
endeavored to lay before the reader some reasons why churches ought to
be richly adorned, as being the only places in which the desire of
offering a portion of all precious things to God could be legitimately
expressed. But I left wholly untouched the question: whether the church,
as such, stood in need of adornment, or would be better fitted for its
purposes by possessing it. This question I would now ask the reader to
deal with briefly and candidly.

The chief difficulty in deciding it has arisen from its being always
presented to us in an unfair form. It is asked of us, or we ask of
ourselves, whether the sensation which we now feel in passing from our
own modern dwelling-house, through a newly built street, into a
cathedral of the thirteenth century, be safe or desirable as a
preparation for public worship. But we never ask whether that sensation
was at all calculated upon by the builders of the cathedral.

SECTION LII. Now I do not say that the contrast of the ancient with the
modern building, and the strangeness with which the earlier
architectural forms fall upon the eye, are at this day disadvantageous.
But I do say, that their effect, whatever it may be, was entirely
uncalculated upon by the old builder. He endeavored to make his work
beautiful, but never expected it to be strange. And we incapacitate
ourselves altogether from fair judgment of its intention, if we forget
that, when it was built, it rose in the midst of other work fanciful and
beautiful as itself; that every dwelling-house in the middle ages was
rich with the same ornaments and quaint with the same grotesques which
fretted the porches or animated the gargoyles of the cathedral; that
what we now regard with doubt and wonder, as well as with delight, was
then the natural continuation, into the principal edifice of the city,
of a style which was familiar to every eye throughout all its lanes and
streets; and that the architect had often no more idea of producing a
peculiarly devotional impression by the richest color and the most
elaborate carving, than the builder of a modern meetinghouse has by his
white-washed walls and square-cut casements. [Footnote: See the farther
notice of this subject in Vol. III., Chap. IV. Stones of Venice.]

SECTION LIII. Let the reader fix this great fact well in his mind, and
then follow out its important corollaries. We attach, in modern days, a
kind of sacredness to the pointed arch and the groined roof, because,
while we look habitually out of square windows and live under flat
ceilings, we meet with the more beautiful forms in the ruins of our
abbeys. But when those abbeys were built, the pointed arch was used for
every shop door, as well as for that of the cloister, and the feudal
baron and freebooter feasted, as the monk sang, under vaulted roofs; not
because the vaulting was thought especially appropriate to either the
revel or psalm, but because it was then the form in which a strong roof
was easiest built. We have destroyed the goodly architecture of our
cities; we have substituted one wholly devoid of beauty or meaning; and
then we reason respecting the strange effect upon our minds of the
fragments which, fortunately, we have left in our churches, as if those
churches had always been designed to stand out in strong relief from all
the buildings around them, and Gothic architecture had always been, what
it is now, a religious language, like Monkish Latin. Most readers know,
if they would arouse their knowledge, that this was not so; but they
take no pains to reason the matter out: they abandon themselves drowsily
to the impression that Gothic is a peculiarly ecclesiastical style; and
sometimes, even, that richness in church ornament is a condition or
furtherance of the Romish religion. Undoubtedly it has become so in
modern times: for there being no beauty in our recent architecture, and
much in the remains of the past, and these remains being almost
exclusively ecclesiastical, the High Church and Romanist parties have
not been slow in availing themselves of the natural instincts which were
deprived of all food except from this source; and have willingly
promulgated the theory, that because all the good architecture that is
now left is expressive of High Church or Romanist doctrines, all good
architecture ever has been and must be so,--a piece of absurdity from
which, though here and there a country clergyman may innocently believe
it, I hope the common sense of the nation will soon manfully quit
itself. It needs but little inquiry into the spirit of the past, to
ascertain what, once for all, I would desire here clearly and forcibly
to assert, that wherever Christian church architecture has been good and
lovely, it has been merely the perfect development of the common
dwelling-house architecture of the period; that when the pointed arch
was used in the street, it was used in the church; when the round arch
was used in the street, it was used in the church; when the pinnacle
was set over the garret window, it was set over the belfry tower; when
the flat roof was used for the drawing-room, it was used for the nave.
There is no sacredness in round arches, nor in pointed; none in
pinnacles, nor in buttresses; none in pillars, nor traceries. Churches
were larger than in most other buildings, because they had to hold more
people; they were more adorned than most other buildings, because they
were safer from violence, and were the fitting subjects of devotional
offering: but they were never built in any separate, mystical, and
religious style; they were built in the manner that was common and
familiar to everybody at the time. The flamboyant traceries that adorn
the facade of Rouen Cathedral had once their fellows in every window of
every house in the market place; the sculptures that adorn the porches
of St. Mark's had once their match on the walls, of every palace on the
Grand Canal; and the only difference between the church and the
dwelling-house was, that there existed a symbolical meaning in the
distribution of the parts of all buildings meant for worship, and that
the painting or sculpture was, in the one case, less frequently of
profane subject than in the other. A more severe distinction cannot be
drawn: for secular history was constantly introduced into church
architecture; and sacred history or allusion generally formed at least
one half of the ornament of the dwelling-house.

SECTION LIV. This fact is so important, and so little considered, that I
must be pardoned for dwelling upon it at some length, and accurately
marking the limits of the assertion I have made. I do not mean that
every dwelling-house of mediaeval cities was as richly adorned and as
exquisite in composition as the fronts of their cathedrals, but that
they presented features of the same kind, often in parts quite as
beautiful; and that the churches were not separated by any change of
style from the buildings round them, as they are now, but were merely
more finished and full examples of a universal style, rising out of the
confused streets of the city as an oak tree does out of an oak copse,
not differing in leafage, but in size and symmetry. Of course the
quainter and smaller forms of turret and window necessary for domestic
service, the inferior materials, often wood instead of stone, and the
fancy of the inhabitants, which had free play in the design, introduced
oddnesses, vulgarities, and variations into house architecture, which
were prevented by the traditions, the wealth, and the skill of the monks
and freemasons; while, on the other hand, conditions of vaulting,
buttressing, and arch and tower building, were necessitated by the mere
size of the cathedral, of which it would be difficult to find examples
elsewhere. But there was nothing more in these features than the
adaptation of mechanical skill to vaster requirements; there was nothing
intended to be, or felt to be, especially ecclesiastical in any of the
forms so developed; and the inhabitants of every village and city, when
they furnished funds for the decoration of their church, desired merely
to adorn the house of God as they adorned their own, only a little more
richly, and with a somewhat graver temper in the subjects of the
carving. Even this last difference is not always clearly discernible:
all manner of ribaldry occurs in the details of the ecclesiastical
buildings of the North, and at the time when the best of them were
built, every man's house was a kind of temple; a figure of the Madonna,
or of Christ, almost always occupied a niche over the principal door,
and the Old Testament histories were curiously interpolated amidst the
grotesques of the brackets and the gables.

SECTION LV. And the reader will now perceive that the question
respecting fitness of church decoration rests in reality on totally
different grounds from those commonly made foundations of argument. So
long as our streets are walled with barren brick, and our eyes rest
continually, in our daily life, on objects utterly ugly, or of
inconsistent and meaningless design, it may be a doubtful question
whether the faculties of eye and mind which are capable of perceiving
beauty, having been left without food during the whole of our active
life, should be suddenly feasted upon entering a place of worship; and
color, and music, and sculpture should delight the senses, and stir the
curiosity of men unaccustomed to such appeal, at the moment when they
are required to compose themselves for acts of devotion;--this, I say,
may be a doubtful question: but it cannot be a question at all, that if
once familiarized with beautiful form and color, and accustomed to see
in whatever human hands have executed for us, even for the lowest
services, evidence of noble thought and admirable skill, we shall desire
to see this evidence also in whatever is built or labored for the house
of prayer; that the absence of the accustomed loveliness would disturb
instead of assisting devotion; and that we should feel it as vain to ask
whether, with our own house full of goodly craftsmanship, we should
worship God in a house destitute of it, as to ask whether a pilgrim
whose day's journey had led him through fair woods and by sweet waters,
must at evening turn aside into some barren place to pray.

SECTION LVI. Then the second question submitted to us, whether the
ornament of St. Mark's be truly ecclesiastical and Christian, is
evidently determined together with the first; for, if not only the
permission of ornament at all, but the beautiful execution of it, be
dependent on our being familiar with it in daily life, it will follow
that no style of noble architecture can be exclusively ecclesiastical.
It must be practised in the dwelling before it be perfected in the
church, and it is the test of a noble style that it shall be applicable
to both; for if essentially false and ignoble, it may be made to fit the
dwelling-house, but never can be made to fit the church: and just as
there are many principles which will bear the light of the world's
opinion, yet will not bear the light of God's word, while all principles
which will bear the test of Scripture will also bear that of practice,
so in architecture there are many forms which expediency and convenience
may apparently justify, or at least render endurable, in daily use,
which will yet be found offensive the moment they are used for church
service; but there are none good for church service, which cannot bear
daily use. Thus the Renaissance manner of building is a convenient style
for dwelling-houses, but the natural sense of all religious men causes
them to turn from it with pain when it has been used in churches; and
this has given rise to the popular idea that the Roman style is good for
houses and the Gothic for churches. This is not so; the Roman style is
essentially base, and we can bear with it only so long as it gives us
convenient windows and spacious rooms; the moment the question of
convenience is set aside, and the expression or beauty of the style it
tried by its being used in a church, we find it fails. But because the
Gothic and Byzantine styles are fit for churches they are not therefore
less fit for dwellings. They are in the highest sense fit and good for
both, nor were they ever brought to perfection except where they were
used for both.

SECTION LVII. But there is one character of Byzantine work which,
according to the time at which it was employed, may be considered as
either fitting or unfitting it for distinctly ecclesiastical purposes; I
mean the essentially pictorial character of its decoration. We have
already seen what large surfaces it leaves void of bold architectural
features, to be rendered interesting merely by surface ornament or
sculpture. In this respect Byzantine work differs essentially from pure
Gothic styles, which are capable of filling every vacant space by
features purely architectural, and may be rendered, if we please,
altogether independent of pictorial aid. A Gothic church may be rendered
impressive by mere successions of arches, accumulations of niches, and
entanglements of tracery. But a Byzantine church requires expression and
interesting decoration over vast plane surfaces,--decoration which
becomes noble only by becoming pictorial; that is to say, by
representing natural objects,--men, animals, or flowers. And, therefore,
the question whether the Byzantine style be fit for church service in
modern days, becomes involved in the inquiry, what effect upon religion
has been or may yet be produced by pictorial art, and especially by the
art of the mosaicist?

SECTION LVIII. The more I have examined the subject the more dangerous I
have found it to dogmatize respecting the character of the art which is
likely, at a given period, to be most useful to the cause of religion.
One great fact first meets me. I cannot answer for the experience of
others, but I never yet met with a Christian whose heart was thoroughly
set upon the world to come, and, so far as human judgment could
pronounce, perfect and right before God, who cared about art at all. I
have known several very noble Christian men who loved it intensely, but
in them there was always traceable some entanglement of the thoughts
with the matters of this world, causing them to fall into strange
distresses and doubts, and often leading them into what they themselves
would confess to be errors in understanding, or even failures in duty. I
do not say that these men may not, many of them, be in very deed nobler
than those whose conduct is more consistent; they may be more tender in
the tone of all their feelings, and farther-sighted in soul, and for
that very reason exposed to greater trials and fears, than those whose
hardier frame and naturally narrower vision enable them with less effort
to give their hands to God and walk with Him. But still, the general
fact is indeed so, that I have never known a man who seemed altogether
right and calm in faith, who seriously cared about art; and when
casually moved by it, it is quite impossible to say beforehand by what
class of art this impression will on such men be made. Very often it is
by a theatrical commonplace, more frequently still by false sentiment. I
believe that the four painters who have had, and still have, the most
influence, such as it is, on the ordinary Protestant Christian mind, are
Carlo Dolci, Guercino, Benjamin West, and John Martin. Raphael, much as
he is talked about, is, I believe in very fact, rarely looked at by
religious people; much less his master, or any of the truly great
religious men of old. But a smooth Magdalen of Carlo Dolci with a tear
on each cheek, or a Guercino Christ or St. John, or a Scripture
illustration of West's, or a black cloud with a flash of lightning in it
of Martin's, rarely rails of being verily, often deeply, felt for the

SECTION LIX. There are indeed many very evident reasons for this; the
chief one being that, as all truly great religious painters have been
hearty Romanists, there are none of their works which do not embody, in
some portions of them, definitely Romanist doctrines. The Protestant mind
is instantly struck by these, and offended by them, so as to be incapable
of entering, or at least rendered indisposed to enter, farther into the
heart of the work, or to the discovering those deeper characters of it,
which are not Romanist, but Christian, in the everlasting sense and power
of Christianity. Thus most Protestants, entering for the first time a
Paradise of Angelico, would be irrevocably offended by finding that the
first person the painter wished them to speak to was St. Dominic; and
would retire from such a heaven as speedily as possible,--not giving
themselves time to discover, that whether dressed in black, or white, or
gray, and by whatever name in the calendar they might be called, the
figures that filled that Angelico heaven were indeed more, saintly, and
pure, and full of love in every feature, than any that the human hand
ever traced before or since. And thus Protestantism, having foolishly
sought for the little help it requires at the hand of painting from the
men who embodied no Catholic doctrine, has been reduced to receive it
from those who believed neither Catholicism nor Protestantism, but who
read the Bible in search of the picturesque. We thus refuse to regard the
painters who passed their lives in prayer, but are perfectly ready to be
taught by those who spent them in debauchery. There is perhaps no more
popular Protestant picture than Salvator's "Witch of Endor," of which the
subject was chosen by the painter simply because, under the names of Saul
and the Sorceress, he could paint a captain of banditti, and a Neapolitan

SECTION LX. The fact seems to be that strength of religious feeling is
capable of supplying for itself whatever is wanting in the rudest
suggestions of art, and will either, on the one hand, purify what is
coarse into inoffensiveness, or, on the other, raise what is feeble into
impressiveness. Probably all art, as such, is unsatisfactory to it; and
the effort which it makes to supply the void will be induced rather by
association and accident than by the real merit of the work submitted to
it. The likeness to a beloved friend, the correspondence with a habitual
conception, the freedom from any strange or offensive particularity,
and, above all, an interesting choice of incident, will win admiration
for a picture when the noblest efforts of religious imagination would
otherwise fail of power. How much more, when to the quick capacity of
emotion is joined a childish trust that the picture does indeed
represent a fact! It matters little whether the fact be well or ill
told; the moment we believe the picture to be true, we complain little
of its being ill-painted. Let it be considered for a moment, whether the
child, with its colored print, inquiring eagerly and gravely which is
Joseph, and which is Benjamin, is not more capable of receiving a
strong, even a sublime, impression from the rude symbol which it invests
with reality by its own effort, than the connoisseur who admires the
grouping of the three figures in Raphael's "Telling of the Dreams;" and
whether also, when the human mind is in right religious tone, it has not
always this childish power--I speak advisedly, this power--a noble one,
and possessed more in youth than at any period of after life, but
always, I think, restored in a measure by religion--of raising into
sublimity and reality the rudest symbol which is given to it of
accredited truth.

SECTION LXI. Ever since the period of the Renaissance, however, the
truth has not been accredited; the painter of religious subject is no
longer regarded as the narrator of a fact, but as the inventor of an
idea. [Footnote: I do not mean that modern Christians believe less in
the _facts_ than ancient Christians, but they do not believe in the
representation of the facts as true. We look upon the picture as this or
that painter's conception; the elder Christians looked upon it as this
or that, painter's description of what had actually taken place. And in
the Greek Church all painting is, to this day, strictly a branch of
tradition. See M. Dideron's admirably written introduction to his
Iconographie Chretienne, p. 7:--"Un de mes compagnons s'etonnait de re
trouver a la Panagia de St. Luc, le saint Jean Chrysostome qu'il avait
dessine dans le baptistere de St. Marc, a Venise. Le costume des
personnages est partout et en tout temps le meme, non-seulement pour la
forme, mais pour la couleur, mais pour le dessin, mais jusque pour le
nombre et l'epaisseur des plis."] We do not severely criticise the
manner in which a true history is told, but we become harsh
investigators of the faults of an invention; so that in the modern
religious mind, the capacity of emotion, which renders judgment
uncertain, is joined with an incredulity which renders it severe; and
this ignorant emotion, joined with ignorant observance of faults, is the
worst possible temper in which any art can be regarded, but more
especially sacred art. For as religious faith renders emotion facile, so
also it generally renders expression simple; that is to say a truly
religious painter will very often be ruder, quainter, simpler, and more
faulty in his manner of working, than a great irreligious one. And it
was in this artless utterance, and simple acceptance, on the part of
both the workman and the beholder, that all noble schools of art have
been cradled; it is in them that they _must_ be cradled to the end
of time. It is impossible to calculate the enormous loss of power in
modern days, owing to the imperative requirement that art shall be
methodical and learned: for as long as the constitution of this world
remains unaltered, there will be more intellect in it than there can be
education; there will be many men capable of just sensation and vivid
invention, who never will have time to cultivate or polish their natural
powers. And all unpolished power is in the present state of society
lost; in other things as well as in the arts, but in the arts
especially: nay, in nine cases out of ten, people mistake the polish for
the power. Until a man has passed through a course of academy
studentship, and can draw in an approved manner with French chalk, and
knows foreshortening, and perspective, and something of anatomy, we do
not think he can possibly be an artist; what is worse, we are very apt
to think that we can _make_ him an artist by teaching him anatomy,
and how to draw with French chalk; whereas the real gift in him is
utterly independent of all such accomplishments: and I believe there are
many peasants on every estate, and laborers in every town of Europe, who
have imaginative powers of a high order, which nevertheless cannot be
used for our good, because we do not choose to look at anything but what
is expressed in a legal and scientific way. I believe there is many a
village mason who, set to carve a series of Scripture or any other
histories, would find many a strange and noble fancy in his head, and
set it down, roughly enough indeed, but in a way well worth our having.
But we are too grand to let him do this, or to set up his clumsy work
when it is done; and accordingly the poor stone-mason is kept hewing
stones smooth at the corners, and we build our church of the smooth
square stones, and consider ourselves wise.

SECTION LXII. I shall pursue this subject farther in another place; but
I allude to it here in order to meet the objections of those persons who
suppose the mosaics of St. Mark's, and others of the period, to be
utterly barbarous as representations of religious history. Let it be
granted that they are so; we are not for that reason to suppose they
were ineffective in religious teaching. I have above spoken of the whole
church as a great Book of Common Prayer; the mosaics were its
illuminations, and the common people of the time were taught their
Scripture history by means of them, more impressively perhaps, though
far less fully, than ours are now by Scripture reading. They had no
other Bible, and--Protestants do not often enough consider this--_could_
have no other. We find it somewhat difficult to furnish our poor with
printed Bibles; consider what the difficulty must have been when they
could be given only in manuscript. The walls of the church necessarily
became the poor man's Bible, and a picture was more easily read upon the
walls than a chapter. Under this view, and considering them merely as the
Bible pictures of a great nation in its youth, I shall finally invite the
reader to examine the connection and subjects of these mosaics; but in
the meantime I have to deprecate the idea of their execution being in any
sense barbarous. I have conceded too much to modern prejudice, in
permitting them to be rated as mere childish efforts at colored
portraiture: they have characters in them of a very noble kind; nor are
they by any means devoid of the remains of the science of the later Roman
empire. The character of the features is almost always fine, the
expression stern and quiet, and very solemn, the attitudes and draperies
always majestic in the single figures, and in those of the groups which
are not in violent action; [Footnote: All the effects of Byzantine art to
represent violent action are inadequate, most of them ludicrously so,
even when the sculptural art is in other respects far advanced. The early
Gothic sculptors, on the other hand, fail in all points of refinement,
but hardly ever in expression of action. This distinction is of course
one of the necessary consequences of the difference in all respects
between the repose of the Eastern, and activity of the Western mind,
which we shall have to trace out completely in the inquiry into the
nature of Gothic.] while the bright coloring and disregard of chiaroscuro
cannot be regarded as imperfections, since they are the only means by
which the figures could be rendered clearly intelligible in the distance
and darkness of the vaulting. So far am I from considering them
barbarous, that I believe of all works of religious art whatsoever,
these, and such as these, have been the most effective. They stand
exactly midway between the debased manufacture of wooden and waxen images
which is the support of Romanist idolatry all over the world, and the
great art which leads the mind away from the religious subject to the art
itself. Respecting neither of these branches of human skill is there, nor
can there be, any question. The manufacture of puppets, however
influential on the Romanist mind of Europe, is certainly not deserving of
consideration as one of the fine arts. It matters literally nothing to a
Romanist what the image he worships is like. Take the vilest doll that is
screwed together in a cheap toy-shop, trust it to the keeping of a large
family of children, let it be beaten about the house by them till it is
reduced to a shapeless block, then dress it in a satin frock and declare
it to have fallen from heaven, and it will satisfactorily answer all
Romanist purposes. Idolatry, [Footnote: Appendix X, "Proper Sense of the
word Idolatry."] it cannot be too often repeated, is no encourager of the
fine arts. But, on the other hand, the highest branches of the fine arts
are no encouragers either of idolatry or of religion. No picture of
Leonardo's or Raphael's, no statue of Michael Angelo's, has ever been
worshipped, except by accident. Carelessly regarded, and by ignorant
persons, there is less to attract in them than in commoner works.
Carefully regarded, and by intelligent persons, they instantly divert the
mind from their subject to their art, so that admiration takes the place
of devotion. I do not say that the Madonna di S. Sisto, the Madonna del
Cardellino, and such others, have not had considerable religious
influence on certain minds, but I say that on the mass of the people of
Europe they have had none whatever, while by far the greater number of
the most celebrated statues and pictures are never regarded with any
other feelings than those of admiration of human beauty, or reverence for
human skill. Effective religious art, therefore, has always lain, and I
believe must always lie, between the two extremes--of barbarous
idol-fashioning on one side, and magnificent craftsmanship on the other.
It consists partly in missal-painting, and such book-illustrations as,
since the invention of printing, have taken its place; partly in
glass-painting; partly in rude sculpture on the outsides of buildings;
partly in mosaics; and partly in the frescoes and tempera pictures which,
in the fourteenth century, formed the link between this powerful, because
imperfect, religious art, and the impotent perfection which succeeded it.

SECTION LXIII. But of all these branches the most important are the
inlaying and mosaic of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, represented
in a central manner by these mosaics of St. Mark's. Missal-painting
could not, from its minuteness, produce the same sublime impressions,
and frequently merged itself in mere ornamentation of the page. Modern
book-illustration has been so little skillful as hardly to be worth
naming. Sculpture, though in some positions it becomes of great
importance, has always a tendency to lose itself in architectural
effect; and was probably seldom deciphered, in all its parts, by the
common people, still less the traditions annealed in the purple burning
of the painted window. Finally, tempera pictures and frescoes were often
of limited size or of feeble color. But the great mosaics of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries covered the walls and roofs of the churches
with inevitable lustre; they could not be ignored or escaped from; their
size rendered them majestic, their distance mysterious, their color
attractive. They did not pass into confused or inferior decorations;
neither were they adorned with any evidences of skill or science, such
as might withdraw the attention from their subjects. They were before
the eyes of the devotee at every interval of his worship; vast
shadowings forth of scenes to whose realization he looked forward, or of
spirits whose presence he invoked. And the man must be little capable of
receiving a religious impression of any kind, who, to this day, does not
acknowledge some feeling of awe, as he looks up at the pale countenances
and ghastly forms which haunt the dark roofs of the Baptisteries of
Parma and Florence, or remains altogether untouched by the majesty of
the colossal images of apostles, and of Him who sent apostles, that look
down from the darkening gold of the domes of Venice and Pisa.

SECTION LXIV. I shall, in a future portion of this work, endeavor to
discover what probabilities there are of our being able to use this kind
of art in modern churches; but at present it remains for us to follow
out the connection of the subjects represented in St. Mark's so as to
fulfil our immediate object, and form an adequate conception of the
feelings of its builders, and of its uses to those for whom it was

Now, there is one circumstance to which I must, in the outset, direct
the reader's special attention, as forming a notable distinction between
ancient and modern days. Our eyes are now familiar and weaned with
writing; and if an inscription is put upon a building, unless it be
large and clear, it is ten to one whether we ever trouble ourselves to
decipher it. But the old architect was sure of readers. He knew that
every one would be glad to decipher all that he wrote; that they would
rejoice in possessing the vaulted leaves of his stone manuscript; and
that the more he gave them, the more grateful would the people be. We
must take some pains, therefore, when we enter St. Mark's, to read all
that is inscribed, or we shall not penetrate into the feeling either of
the builder or of his times.

SECTION LXV. A large atrium or portico is attached to two sides of the
church, a space which was especially reserved for unbaptized persons and
new converts. It was thought right that, before their baptism, these
persons should be led to contemplate the great facts of the Old
Testament history; the history of the Fall of Man, and of the lives of
Patriarchs up to the period of the Covenant by Moses: the order of the
subjects in this series being very nearly the same as in many Northern
churches, but significantly closing with the Fall of the Manna, in order
to mark to the catechumen the insufficiency of the Mosaic covenant for
salvation,--"Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are
dead,"--and to turn his thoughts to the true Bread of which the manna
was the type.

SECTION LXVI. Then, when after his baptism he was permitted to enter the
church, over its main entrance he saw, on looking back, a mosaic of
Christ enthroned, with the Virgin on one side and St. Mark on the other,
in attitudes of adoration. Christ is represented as holding a book open
upon his knee, on which is written: "I AM THE DOOR; BY ME IF ANY MAN
ENTER IN, HE SHALL BE SAVED." On the red marble moulding which surrounds
the mosaic is written: "I AM THE GATE OF LIFE; LET THOSE WHO ARE MINE,
ENTER BY ME." Above, on the red marble fillet which forms the cornice of
the west end of the church, is written, with reference to the figure of

Now observe, this was not to be seen and read only by the catechumen
when he first entered the church; every one who at any time entered, was
supposed to look back and to read this writing; their daily entrance
into the church was thus made a daily memorial of their first entrance
into the spiritual Church; and we shall find that the rest of the book
which was opened for them upon its walls continually led them in the
same manner to regard the visible temple as in every part a type of the
invisible Church of God.

SECTION LXVII. Therefore the mosaic of the first dome, which is over the
head of the spectator as soon as he has entered by the great door (that
door being the type of baptism), represents the effusion of the Holy
Spirit, as the first consequence and seal of the entrance into the
Church of God. In the centre of the cupola is the Dove, enthroned in the
Greek manner, as the Lamb is enthroned, when the Divinity of the Second
and Third Persons is to be insisted upon together with their peculiar
offices. From the central symbol of the Holy Spirit twelve streams of
fire descend upon the heads of the twelve apostles, who are represented
standing around the dome; and below them, between the windows which are
pierced in its walls, are represented, by groups of two figures for each
separate people, the various nations who heard the apostles speak, at
Pentecost, every man in his own tongue. Finally, on the vaults, at the
four angles which support the cupola, are pictured four angels, each
bearing a tablet upon the end of a rod in his hand: on each of the
tablets of the three first angels is inscribed the word "Holy;" on that
of the fourth is written "Lord;" and the beginning of the hymn being
thus put into the mouths of the four angels, the words of it are
continued around the border of the dome, uniting praise to God for the
gift of the Spirit, with welcome to the redeemed soul received into His


And observe in this writing that the convert is required to regard the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit especially as a work of _sanctification_.
It is the _holiness_ of God manifested in the giving of His Spirit to
sanctify those who had become His children, which the four angels
celebrate in their ceaseless praise; and it is on account of this
holiness that the heaven and earth are said to be full of His glory.

SECTION LXVIII. After thus hearing praise rendered to God by the angels
for the salvation of the newly-entered soul, it was thought fittest that
the worshipper should be led to contemplate, in the most comprehensive
forms possible, the past evidence and the future hopes of Christianity,
as summed up in three facts without assurance of which all faith is
vain; namely that Christ died, that He rose again, and that He ascended
into heaven, there to prepare a place for His elect. On the vault
between the first and second cupolas are represented the crucifixion and
resurrection of Christ, with the usual series of intermediate
scenes,--the treason of Judas, the judgment of Pilate, the crowning with
thorns, the descent into Hades, the visit of the women to the sepulchre,
and the apparition to Mary Magdalene. The second cupola itself, which is
the central and principal one of the church, is entirely occupied by the
subject of the Ascension. At the highest point of it Christ is
represented as rising into the blue heaven, borne up by four angels, and
throned upon a rainbow, the type of reconciliation. Beneath him, the
twelve apostles are seen upon the Mount of Olives, with the Madonna,
and, in the midst of them, the two men in white apparel who appeared at
the moment of the Ascension, above whom, as uttered by them, are
inscribed the words, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into
heaven? This Christ, the Son of God, as He is taken from you, shall so
come, the arbiter of the earth, trusted to do judgment and justice."

SECTION LXIX. Beneath the circle of the apostles, between the windows of
the cupola, are represented the Christian virtues, as sequent upon the
crucifixion of the flesh, and the spiritual ascension together with
Christ. Beneath them, on the vaults which support the angles of the
cupola, are placed the four Evangelists, because on their evidence our
assurance of the fact of the ascension rests; and, finally, beneath
their feet, as symbols of the sweetness and fulness of the Gospel which
they declared, are represented the four rivers of Paradise, Pison,
Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates.

SECTION LXX. The third cupola, that over the altar, represents the
witness of the Old Testament to Christ; showing him enthroned in its
centre, and surrounded by the patriarchs and prophets. But this dome was
little seen by the people; [Footnote: It is also of inferior workmanship,
and perhaps later than the rest. Vide Lord Lindsay, vol. i, p. 124,
note.] their contemplation was intended to be chiefly drawn to that of
the centre of the church, and thus the mind of the worshipper was at once
fixed on the main groundwork and hope of Christianity,--"Christ is
risen," and "Christ shall come." If he had time to explore the minor
lateral chapels and cupolas, he could find in them the whole series of
New Testament history, the events of the Life of Christ, and the
Apostolic miracles in their order, and finally the scenery of the Book of
Revelation; [Footnote: The old mosaics from the Revelation have perished,
and have been replaced by miserable work of the seventeenth century.] but
if he only entered, as often the common people do to this hour, snatching
a few moments before beginning the labor of the day to offer up an
ejaculatory prayer, and advanced but from the main entrance as far as the
altar screen, all the splendor of the glittering nave and variegated
dome, if they smote upon his heart, as they might often, in strange
contrast with his reed cabin among the shallows of the lagoon, smote upon
it only that they might proclaim the two great messages--"Christ is
risen," and "Christ shall come." Daily, as the white cupolas rose like
wreaths of sea-foam in the dawn, while the shadowy campanile and frowning
palace were still withdrawn into the night, they rose with the Easter
Voice of Triumph,--"Christ is risen;" and daily, as they looked down upon
the tumult of the people, deepening and eddying in the wide square that
opened from their feet to the sea, they uttered above them the sentence
of warning,--"Christ shall come."

SECTION LXXI. And this thought may surely dispose the reader to look
with some change of temper upon the gorgeous building and wild blazonry
of that shrine of St. Mark's. He now perceives that it was in the hearts
of the old Venetian people far more than a place of worship. It was at
once a type of the Redeemed Church of God, and a scroll for the written
word of God. It was to be to them, both an image of the Bride, all
glorious within, her clothing of wrought gold; and the actual Table of
the Law and the Testimony, written within and without. And whether
honored as the Church or as the Bible, was it not fitting that neither
the gold nor the crystal should be spared in the adornment of it; that,
as the symbol of the Bride, the building of the wall thereof should be
of jasper, [Footnote: Rev. xxi. 18.] and the foundations of it garnished
with all manner of precious stones; and that, as the channel of the
World, that triumphant utterance of the Psalmist should be true of
it,--"I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all
riches"? And shall we not look with changed temper down the long
perspective of St. Mark's Place towards the sevenfold gates and glowing
domes of its temple, when we know with what solemn purpose the shafts of
it were lifted above the pavement of the populous square? Men met there
from all countries of the earth, for traffic or for pleasure; but, above
the crowd swaying for ever to and fro in the restlessness of avarice or
thirst of delight, was seen perpetually the glory of the temple,
attesting to them, whether they would hear or whether they would
forbear, that there was one treasure which the merchantmen might buy
without a price, and one delight better than all others, in the word and
the statutes of God. Not in the wantonness of wealth, not in vain
ministry to the desire of the eyes or the pride of life, were those
marbles hewn into transparent strength, and those arches arrayed in the
colors of the iris. There is a message written in the dyes of them, that
once was written in blood; and a sound in the echoes of their vaults,
that one day shall fill the vault of heaven,--"He shall return, to do
judgment and justice." The strength of Venice was given her, so long as
she remembered this: her destruction found her when she had forgotten
this; and it found her irrevocably, because she forgot it without
excuse. Never had city a more glorious Bible. Among the nations of the
North, a rude and shadowy sculpture filled their temples with confused
and hardly legible imagery; but, for her, the skill and the treasures of
the East had gilded every letter, and illumined every page, till the
Book-Temple shone from afar off like the star of the Magi. In other
cities, the meetings of the people were often in places withdrawn from
religious association, subject to violence and to change; and on the
grass of the dangerous rampart, and in the dust of the troubled street,
there were deeds done and counsels taken, which, if we cannot justify,
we may sometimes forgive. But the sins of Venice, whether in her palace
or in her piazza, were done with the Bible at her right hand. The walls
on which its testimony was written were separated but by a few inches of
marble from those which guarded the secrets of her councils, or confined
the victims of her policy. And when in her last hours she threw off all
shame and all restraint, and the great square of the city became filled
with the madness of the whole earth, be it remembered how much her sin
was greater, because it was done in the face of the House of God,
burning with the letters of His Law. Mountebank and masker laughed their
laugh, and went their way; and a silence has followed them, not
unforetold; for amidst them all, through century after century of
gathering vanity and festering guilt, that white dome of St. Mark's had
uttered in the dead ear of Venice, "Know thou, that for all these things
God will bring thee into judgment."



SECTION I. It was stated in the commencement of the preceding chapter
that the Gothic art of Venice was separated by the building of the Ducal
Palace into two distinct periods; and that in all the domestic edifices
which were raised for half a century after its completion, their
characteristic and chiefly effective portions were more or less directly
copied from it. The fact is, that the Ducal Palace was the great work of
Venice at this period, itself the principal effort of her imagination,
employing her best architects in its masonry, and her best painters in
its decoration, for a long series of years; and we must receive it as a
remarkable testimony to the influence which it possessed over the minds
of those who saw it in its progress, that, while in the other cities of
Italy every palace and church was rising in some original and daily more
daring form, the majesty of this single building was able to give pause
to the Gothic imagination in its full career; stayed the restlessness of
innovation in an instant, and forbade the powers which had created it
thenceforth to exert themselves in new directions, or endeavor to summon
an image more attractive.

SECTION II. The reader will hardly believe that while the architectural
invention of the Venetians was thus lost, Narcissus-like, in
self-contemplation, the various accounts of the progress of the building
thus admired and beloved are so confused as frequently to leave it
doubtful to what portion of the palace they refer; and that there is
actually, at the time being, a dispute between the best Venetian
antiquaries, whether the main facade of the palace be of the fourteenth
or fifteenth century. The determination of this question is of course
necessary before we proceed to draw any conclusions from the style of
the work; and it cannot be determined without a careful review of the
entire history of the palace, and of all the documents relating to it. I
trust that this review may not be found tedious,--assuredly it will not
be fruitless,--bringing many facts before us, singularly illustrative of
the Venetian character.

SECTION III. Before, however, the reader can enter upon any inquiry into
the history of this building, it is necessary that he should be
thoroughly familiar with the arrangement and names of its principal
parts, as it at present stands; otherwise he cannot comprehend so much
as a single sentence of any of the documents referring to it. I must do
what I can, by the help of a rough plan and bird's-eye view, to give him
the necessary topographical knowledge:

Opposite is a rude ground plan of the buildings round St. Mark's Place;
and the following references will clearly explain their relative

A. St. Mark's Place.
B. Piazzetta.
P. V. Procuratie Vecchie.
P. N. (opposite) Procuratie Nuove.
P. L. Libreria Vecchia.
I. Piazzetta de' Leoni.
T. Tower of St. Mark.
F F. Great Facade of St. Mark's Church.
M. St. Mark's. (It is so united with the Ducal Palace, that the
    separation cannot be indicated in the plan, unless all the walls had
    been marked, which would have confused the whole.)
D D D. Ducal Palace.         g s. Giant's stair.
C. Court of Ducal Palace.    J. Judgement angle.
c. Porta della Carta.        a. Fig-tree angle.
p p. Ponte della Paglia (Bridge of Straw).
S. Ponte de' Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
R R. Riva de' Schiavoni.

[Illustration: FIG. I. The Ducal Palace--Ground Plan.]

[Illustration: FIG. II. The Ducal Palace--Bird's eye View.]

The reader will observe that the Ducal Palace is arranged somewhat in
the form of a hollow square, of which one side faces the Piazzetta, B,
and another the quay called the Riva de' Schiavoni, R R; the third is on
the dark canal called the "Rio del Palazzo," and the fourth joins the
Church of St. Mark.

Of this fourth side, therefore, nothing can be seen. Of the other three
sides we shall have to speak constantly; and they will be respectively
called, that towards the Piazzetta, the "Piazzetta Facade;" that towards
the Riva de' Schiavoni, the "Sea Facade;" and that towards the Rio del
Palazzo, the "Rio Facade." This Rio, or canal, is usually looked upon by
the traveller with great respect, or even horror, because it passes
under the Bridge of Sighs. It is, however, one of the principal
thoroughfares of the city; and the bridge and its canal together occupy,
in the mind of a Venetian, very much the position of Fleet Street and
Temple Bar in that of a Londoner,--at least, at the time when Temple Bar
was occasionally decorated with human heads. The two buildings closely
resemble each other in form.

SECTION IV. We must now proceed to obtain some rough idea of the
appearance and distribution of the palace itself; but its arrangement
will be better understood by supposing ourselves raised some hundred and
fifty feet above the point in the lagoon in front of it, so as to get a
general view of the Sea Facade and Rio Facade (the latter in very steep
perspective), and to look down into its interior court. Fig. II. roughly
represents such a view, omitting all details on the roofs, in order to
avoid confusion. In this drawing we have merely to notice that, of the
two bridges seen on the right, the uppermost, above the black canal, is
the Bridge of Sighs; the lower one is the Ponte della Paglia, the
regular thoroughfare from quay to quay, and, I believe, called the
Bridge of Straw, because the boats which brought straw from the mainland
used to sell it at this place. The corner of the palace, rising above
this bridge, and formed by the meeting of the Sea Facade and Rio Facade,
will always be called the Vine angle, because it is decorated by a
sculpture of the drunkenness of Noah. The angle opposite will be called
the Fig-tree angle, because it is decorated by a sculpture of the Fall
of Man. The long and narrow range of building, of which the roof is seen
in perspective behind this angle, is the part of the palace fronting the
Piazzetta; and the angle under the pinnacle most to the left of the two
which terminate it will be called, for a reason presently to be stated,
the Judgment angle. Within the square formed by the building is seen its
interior court (with one of its wells), terminated by small and
fantastic buildings of the Renaissance period, which face the Giant's
Stair, of which the extremity is seen sloping down on the left.

SECTION V. The great facade which fronts the spectator looks southward.
Hence the two traceried windows lower than the rest, and to the right of
the spectator, may be conveniently distinguished as the "Eastern
Windows." There are two others like them, filled with tracery, and at
the same level, which look upon the narrow canal between the Ponte della
Paglia and the Bridge of Sighs: these we may conveniently call the
"Canal Windows." The reader will observe a vertical line in this dark
side of the palace, separating its nearer and plainer wall from a long
four-storied range of rich architecture. This more distant range is
entirely Renaissance: its extremity is not indicated, because I have no
accurate sketch of the small buildings and bridges beyond it, and we
shall have nothing whatever to do with this part of the palace in our
present inquiry. The nearer and undecorated wall is part of the older
palace, though much defaced by modern opening of common windows,
refittings of the brickwork, etc.

SECTION VI. It will be observed that the facade is composed of a smooth
mass of wall, sustained on two tiers of pillars, one above the other.
The manner in which these support the whole fabric will be understood at
once by the rough section, Fig. III., which is supposed to be taken
right through the palace to the interior court, from near the middle of
the Sea Facade. Here _a_ and _d_ are the rows of shafts, both
in the inner court and on the Facade, which carry the main walls;
_b_, _c_ are solid walls variously strengthened with pilasters. A, B, C
are the three stories of the interior of the palace.

[Illustration: FIG. III.]

The reader sees that it is impossible for any plan to be more simple,
and that if the inner floors and walls of the stories A, B were removed,
there would be left merely the form of a basilica,--two high walls,
carried on ranges of shafts, and roofed by a low gable.

The stories A, B are entirely modernized, and divided into confused
ranges of small apartments, among which what vestiges remain of ancient
masonry are entirely undecipherable, except by investigations such as I
have had neither the time nor, as in most cases they would involve the
removal of modern plastering, the opportunity, to make. With the
subdivisions of this story, therefore, I shall not trouble the reader;
but those of the great upper story, C, are highly important.

SECTION VII. In the bird's-eye view above, Fig. II., it will be noticed
that the two windows on the right are lower than the other four of the
facade. In this arrangement there is one of the most remarkable
instances I know of the daring sacrifice of symmetry to convenience,
which was noticed in Chap. VII. as one of the chief noblenesses of the
Gothic schools.

The part of the palace in which the two lower windows occur, we shall
find, was first built, and arranged in four stories in order to obtain
the necessary number of apartments. Owing to circumstances, of which we
shall presently give an account, it became necessary, in the beginning
of the fourteenth century, to provide another large and magnificent
chamber for the meeting of the senate. That chamber was added at the
side of the older building; but, as only one room was wanted, there was
no need to divide the added portion into two stories. The entire height
was given to the single chamber, being indeed not too great for just
harmony with its enormous length and breadth. And then came the question
how to place the windows, whether on a line with the two others, or
above them.

The ceiling of the new room was to be adorned by the paintings of the
best masters in Venice, and it became of great importance to raise the
light near that gorgeous roof, as well as to keep the tone of
illumination in the Council Chamber serene; and therefore to introduce
light rather in simple masses than in many broken streams. A modern
architect, terrified at the idea of violating external symmetry, would
have sacrificed both the pictures and the peace of the council. He would
have placed the larger windows at the same level with the other two, and
have introduced above them smaller windows, like those of the upper
story in the older building, as if that upper story had been continued
along the facade. But the old Venetian thought of the honor of the
paintings, and the comfort of the senate, before his own reputation. He
unhesitatingly raised the large windows to their proper position with
reference to the interior of the chamber, and suffered the external
appearance to take care of itself. And I believe the whole pile rather
gains than loses in effect by the variation thus obtained in the spaces
of wall above and below the windows.

SECTION VIII. On the party wall, between the second and third windows,
which faces the eastern extremity of the Great Council Chamber, is
painted the Paradise of Tintoret; and this wall will therefore be
hereafter called the "Wall of the Paradise."

In nearly the centre of the Sea Facade, and between the first and second
windows of the Great Council Chamber, is a large window to the ground,
opening on a balcony, which is one of the chief ornaments of the palace,
and will be called in future the "Sea Balcony."

The facade which looks on the Piazzetta is very nearly like this to the
Sea, but the greater part of it was built in the fifteenth century, when
people had become studious of their symmetries. Its side windows are all
on the same level. Two light the west end of the Great Council Chamber,
one lights a small room anciently called the Quarantia Civil Nuova; the
other three, and the central one, with a balcony like that to the Sea,
light another large chamber, called Sala del Scrutinio, or "Hall of
Enquiry," which extends to the extremity of the palace above the Porta
della Carta.

SECTION IX. The reader is now well enough acquainted with the topography
of the existing building, to be able to follow the accounts of its

We have seen above, that there were three principal styles of Venetian
architecture; Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance.

The Ducal Palace, which was the great work of Venice, was built
successively in the three styles. There was a Byzantine Ducal Palace, a
Gothic Ducal Palace, and a Renaissance Ducal Palace. The second
superseded the first totally; a few stones of it (if indeed so much) are
all that is left. But the third superseded the second in part only, and
the existing building is formed by the union of the two.

We shall review the history of each in succession. [Footnote: The reader
will find it convenient to note the following editions of the printed
books which have been principally consulted in the following inquiry. The
numbers of the manuscripts referred to in the Marcian Library are given
with the quotations.
  Sansovino. Venetia Descritta. 410, Venice, 1663.
  Sansovino. Lettera intorno al Palazzo Ducale, 8vo, Venice, 1829.
  Temanza. Antica Pianta di Venezia, with text. Venice, 1780.
  Cadorin. Pareri di XV. Architetti. Svo, Venice,1838.
  Filiasi. Memorie storiche. 8vo, Padua, 1811.
  Bettio. Lettera discorsiva del Palazzo Ducale, 8vo, Venice, 1837.
  Selvatico. Architettura di Venezia. 8vo, Venice, 1847.]


In the year of the death of Charlemagne, 813, the Venetians determined
to make the island of Rialto the seat of the government and capital of
their state. [Footnote: The year commonly given is 810, as in the Savina
Chronicle (Cod. Marcianus), p. 13. "Del 810 fece principiar el pallazzo
Ducal nel luogo ditto Brucio in confin di S. Moise, et fece riedificar
la isola di Eraclia." The Sagornin Chronicle gives 804; and Filiasi,
vol. vi. chap. I, corrects this date to 813.] Their Doge, Angelo or
Agnello Participazio, instantly took vigorous means for the enlargement
of the small group of buildings which were to be the nucleus of the
future Venice. He appointed persons to superintend the raising of the
banks of sand, so as to form more secure foundations, and to build
wooden bridges over the canals. For the offices of religion, he built
the Church of St. Mark; and on, or near, the spot where the Ducal Palace
now stands, he built a palace for the administration of the government.
[Footnote: "Amplio la citta, fornilla di casamenti, _e per il culto d'
Iddio e l' amministrazione della giustizia_ eresse la capella di S.
Marco, e il palazzo di sua residenza."--Pareri, p. 120. Observe, that
piety towards God, and justice towards man, have been at least the
nominal purposes of every act and institution of ancient Venice. Compare
also Temanza, p. 24. "Quello che abbiamo di certo si e che il suddetto
Agnello lo incommincio da fondamenti, e cosi pure la capella ducale di
S. Marco."]

The history of the Ducal Palace therefore begins with the birth of
Venice, and to what remains of it, at this day, is entrusted the last
representation of her power.

SECTION X. Of the exact position and form of this palace of Participazio
little is ascertained. Sansovino says that it was "built near the Ponte
della Paglia, and answeringly on the Grand Canal," towards San Giorgio;
that is to say, in the place now occupied by the Sea Facade; but this
was merely the popular report of his day. [Footnote: What I call the
Sea, was called "the Grand Canal" by the Venetians, as well as the great
water street of the city; but I prefer calling it "the Sea," in order to
distinguish between that street and the broad water in front of the
Ducal Palace, which, interrupted only by the island of San Giorgio,
stretches for many miles to the south, and for more than two to the
boundary of the Lido. It was the deeper channel, just in front of the
Ducal Palace, continuing the line of the great water street itself which
the Venetians spoke of as "the Grand Canal." The words of Sansovino are:
"Fu cominciato dove si vede, vicino al ponte della paglia, et
rispondente sul canal grande." Filiasi says simply: "The palace was
built where it now is." "Il palazio fu fatto dove ora pure
esiste."--Vol. iii. chap. 27. The Savina Chronicle, already quoted,
says: "in the place called the Bruolo (or Broglio), that is to say on
the Piazzetta."]

We know, however, positively, that it was somewhere upon the site of the
existing palace; and that it had an important front towards the
Piazzetta, with which, as we shall see hereafter, the present palace at
one period was incorporated. We know, also, that it was a pile of some
magnificence, from the account given by Sagornino of the visit paid by
the Emperor Otho the Great, to the Doge Pietro Orseolo II. The
chronicler says that the Emperor "beheld carefully all the beauty of the
palace;" [Footnote: "Omni decoritate illius perlustrata."--Sagornino,
quoted by Cadorin and Temanza.] and the Venetian historians express
pride in the buildings being worthy of an emperor's examination. This
was after the palace had been much injured by fire in the revolt against
Candiano IV., [Footnote: There is an interesting account of this revolt
in Monaci, p. 68. Some historians speak of the palace as having been
destroyed entirely; but, that it did not even need important
restorations, appears from Sagornino's expression, quoted by Cadorin and
Temanza. Speaking of the Doge Participazio, he says: "Qui Palatii
hucusque manentis fuerit fabricator." The reparations of the palace are
usually attributed to the successor of Candiano, Pietro Orseolo I.; but
the legend, under the picture of that Doge in the Council Chamber,
speaks only of his rebuilding St. Mark's, and "performing many
miracles." His whole mind seems to have been occupied with
ecclesiastical affairs; and his piety was finally manifested in a way
somewhat startling to the state, by absconding with a French priest to
St. Michael's in Gascony, and there becoming a monk. What repairs,
therefore, were necessary to the Ducal Palace, were left to be
undertaken by his son, Orseolo II., above named.] and just repaired, and
richly adorned by Orseolo himself, who is spoken of by Sagornino as
having also "adorned the chapel of the Ducal Palace" (St. Mark's) with
ornaments of marble and gold. [Footnote: "Quam non modo marmoreo, verum
aureo compsit ornamento."--_Temanza_] There can be no doubt
whatever that the palace at this period resembled and impressed the
other Byzantine edifices of the city, such as the Fondaco de Turchi,
&c., whose remains have been already described; and that, like them, it
was covered with sculpture, and richly adorned with gold and color.

SECTION XI. In the year 1106, it was for the second time injured by
fire, [Footnote: "L'anno 1106, uscito fuoco d'una casa privata, arse
parte del palazzo."--_Sansovino_. Of the beneficial effect of these
fires, vide Cadorin.] but repaired before 1116, when it received another
emperor, Henry V. (of Germany), and was again honored by imperial
praise. [Footnote: "Urbis situm, aedificiorum decorem, et regiminis
sequitatem multipliciter commendavit."--_Cronaca Dandolo_, quoted
by Cadorin.]

Between 1173 and the close of the century, it seems to have been again
repaired and much enlarged by the Doge Sebastian Ziani. Sansovino says
that this Doge not only repaired it, but "enlarged it in every
direction;" [Footnote: "Non solamente rinovo il palazzo, ma lo aggrandi
per ogni verso."--_Sansovino_. Zanotto quotes the Altinat Chronicle
for account of these repairs.] and, after this enlargement, the palace
seems to have remained untouched for a hundred years, until, in the
commencement of the fourteenth century, the works of the Gothic Palace
were begun. As, therefore, the old Byzantine building was, at the time
when those works first interfered with it, in the form given to it by
Ziani, I shall hereafter always speak of it as the _Ziani_ Palace; and
this the rather, because the only chronicler whose words are perfectly
clear respecting the existence of part of this palace so late as the year
1422, speaks of it as built by Ziani. The old "palace of which half
remains to this day, was built, as we now see it, by Sebastian Ziani."
[Footnote: "El palazzo che anco di mezzo se vede vecchio, per M.
Sebastian Ziani fu fatto compir, come el se vede."--_Chronicle of Pietro
Dolfino_, Cod. Ven. p. 47. This Chronicle is spoken of by Sansovino as
"molto particolare, e distinta."--_Sansovino, Venezia descritta_, p.
593.--It terminates in the year 1422.]

So far, then, of the Byzantine Palace.

SECTION XII. 2nd. The GOTHIC PALACE. The reader, doubtless, recollects
that the important change in the Venetian government which gave
stability to the aristocratic power took place about the year 1297,
[Footnote: See Vol. I. Appendix 3, Stones of Venice.] under the Doge
Pietro Gradenigo, a man thus characterized by Sansovino:--"A prompt and
prudent man, of unconquerable determination and great eloquence, who
laid, so to speak, the foundations of the eternity of this republic, by
the admirable regulations which he introduced into the government."

We may now, with some reason, doubt of their admirableness; but their
importance, and the vigorous will and intellect of the Doge, are not to
be disputed. Venice was in the zenith of her strength, and the heroism
of her citizens was displaying itself in every quarter of the world.
[Footnote: Vide Sansovino's enumeration of those who flourished in the
reign of Gradenigo, p. 564.] The acquiescence in the secure
establishment of the aristocratic power was an expression, by the
people, of respect for the families which had been chiefly instrumental
in raising the commonwealth to such a height of prosperity.

The Serrar del Consiglio fixed the numbers of the Senate within certain
limits, and it conferred upon them a dignity greater than they had ever
before possessed. It was natural that the alteration in the character of
the assembly should be attended by some change in the size, arrangement,
or decoration of the chamber in which they sat.

We accordingly find it recorded by Sansovino, that "in 1301 another
saloon was begun on the Rio del Palazzo, _under the Doge
Gradenigo_, and finished in 1309, _in which year the Grand Council
first sat in it_." [Footnote: Sansovino, 324, I.] In the first year,
therefore, of the fourteenth century, the Gothic Ducal Palace of Venice
was begun; and as the Byzantine Palace was, in its foundation, coeval
with that of the state, so the Gothic Palace was, in its foundation,
coeval with that of the aristocratic power. Considered as the principal
representation of the Venetian school of architecture, the Ducal Palace
is the Parthenon of Venice, and Gradenigo its Pericles.

SECTION XIII. Sansovino, with a caution very frequent among Venetian
historians, when alluding to events connected with the Serrar del
Consiglio, does not specially mention the cause for the requirement of
the new chamber; but the Sivos Chronicle is a little more distinct in
expression. "In 1301, it was determined to build a great saloon _for
the assembling_ of the Great Council, and the room was built which is
_now_ called the Sala del Scrutinio." [Footnote: "1301 fu presa
parte di fare una sala grande per la riduzione del gran consiglio, e fu
fatta quella che ora si chiama dello Scrutinio."--_Cronaca Sivos_,
quoted by Cadorin. There is another most interesting entry in the
Chronicle of Magno, relating to this event; but the passage is so ill
written, that I am not sure if I have deciphered it correctly:--"Del
1301 fu preso de fabrichar la sala fo ruina e fu fata (fatta) quella se
adoperava a far e pregadi e fu adopera per far el Gran Consegio fin
1423, che fu anni 122." This last sentence, which is of great
importance, is luckily unmistakable:--"The room was used for the
meetings of the Great Council until 1423, that is to say, for 122
years."--_Cod. Ven._ tom. i. p. 126. The Chronicle extends from
1253 to 1454.

Abstract 1301 to 1309; Gradenigo's room--1340-42, page 295-1419. New
proposals, p. 298.] _Now_, that is to say, at the time when the
Sivos Chronicle was written; the room has long ago been destroyed, and
its name given to another chamber on the opposite side of the palace:
but I wish the reader to remember the date 1301, as marking the
commencement of a great architectural epoch, in which took place the
first appliance of the energy of the aristocratic power, and of the
Gothic style, to the works of the Ducal Palace. The operations then
begun were continued, with hardly an interruption, during the whole
period of the prosperity of Venice. We shall see the new buildings
consume, and take the place of, the Ziani Palace, piece by piece: and
when the Ziani Palace was destroyed, they fed upon themselves; being
continued round the square, until, in the sixteenth century, they
reached the point where they had been begun in the fourteenth, and
pursued the track they had then followed some distance beyond the
junction; destroying or hiding their own commencement, as the serpent,
which is the type of eternity, conceals its tail in its jaws.

SECTION XIV. We cannot, therefore, _see_ the extremity, wherein lay
the sting and force of the whole creature,--the chamber, namely, built
by the Doge Gradenigo; but the reader must keep that commencement and
the date of it carefully in his mind. The body of the Palace Serpent
will soon become visible to us.

The Gradenigo Chamber was somewhere on the Rio Facade, behind the
present position of the Bridge of Sighs; i.e. about the point marked on
the roof by the dotted lines in the woodcut; it is not known whether low
or high, but probably on a first story. The great facade of the Ziani
Palace being, as above mentioned, on the Piazzetta, this chamber was as
far back and out of the way as possible; secrecy and security being
obviously the points first considered.

SECTION XV. But the newly constituted Senate had need of other additions
to the ancient palace besides the Council Chamber. A short, but most
significant, sentence is added to Sansovino's account of the construction
of that room. "There were, _near it_," he says, "the Cancellaria, and the
_Gheba_ or _Gabbia_, afterwards called the Little Tower." [Footnote: "Vi
era appresso la Cancellarla, e la Gheba o Gabbia, iniamata poi
Torresella,"---P. 324. A small square tower is seen above the Vine angle
in the view of Venice dated 1500, and attributed to Albert Durer. It
appears about 25 feet square, and is very probably the Torresella in

Gabbia means a "cage;" and there can be no question that certain
apartments were at this time added at the top of the palace and on the
Rio Facade, which were to be used as prisons. Whether any portion of the
old Torresella still remains is a doubtful question; but the apartments
at the top of the palace, in its fourth story, were still used for
prisons as late as the beginning of the seventeenth century. [Footnote:
Vide Bettio, Lettera, p. 23.] I wish the reader especially to notice
that a separate tower or range of apartments was built for this purpose,
in order to clear the government of the accusations so constantly made
against them, by ignorant or partial historians, of wanton cruelty to
prisoners. The stories commonly told respecting the "piombi" of the
Ducal Palace are utterly false. Instead of being, as usually reported,
small furnaces under the leads of the palace, they were comfortable
rooms, with good flat roofs of larch, and carefully ventilated.
[Footnote: Bettio, Lettera, p. 20. "Those who wrote without having seen
them described them as covered with lead; and those who have seen them
know that, between their flat timber roofs and the sloping leaden roof
of the palace the interval is five metres where it is least, and nine
where it is greatest."] The new chamber, then, and the prisons, being
built, the Great Council first sat in their retired chamber on the Rio
in the year 1309.

SECTION XVI. Now, observe the significant progress of events. They had
no sooner thus established themselves in power than they were disturbed
by the conspiracy of the Tiepolos, in the year 1310. In consequence of
that conspiracy the Council of Ten was created, still under the Doge
Gradenigo; who, having finished his work and left the aristocracy of
Venice armed with this terrible power, died in the year 1312, some say
by poison. He was succeeded by the Doge Marino Giorgio, who reigned only
one year; and then followed the prosperous government of John Soranzo.
There is no mention of any additions to the Ducal Palace during his
reign, but he was succeeded by that Francesco Dandolo, the sculptures on
whose tomb, still existing in the cloisters of the Salute, may be
compared by any traveller with those of the Ducal Palace. Of him it is
recorded in the Savina Chronicle: "This Doge also had the great gate
built which is at the entry of the palace, above which is his statue
kneeling, with the gonfalon in hand, before the feet of the Lion of St.
Mark's." [Footnote: "Questo Dose anche fese far la porta granda che se
al intrar del Pallazzo, in su la qual vi e la sua statua che sta in
zenocchioni con lo confalon in man, davanti li pie de lo Lion S.
Marco."--_Savin Chronicle_, Cod. Ven. p. 120.]

SECTION XVII. It appears, then, that after the Senate had completed
their Council Chamber and the prisons, they required a nobler door than
that of the old Ziani Palace for their Magnificences to enter by. This
door is twice spoken of in the government accounts of expenses, which
are fortunately preserved, [Footnote: These documents I have not
examined myself, being satisfied of the accuracy of Cadorin, from whom I
take the passages quoted.] in the following terms:--

"1335, June 1. We, Andrew Dandolo and Mark Loredano, procurators of St.
Mark's, have paid to Martin the stone-cutter and his associates....
[Footnote: "Libras tres, soldeos 15 grossorum."--Cadorin, 189, I.]
for a stone of which the lion is made which is put over the gate of the

"1344, November 4. We have paid thirty-five golden ducats for making
gold leaf, to gild the lion which is over the door of the palace

The position of this door is disputed, and is of no consequence to the
reader, the door itself having long ago disappeared, and been replaced
by the Porta della Carta.

SECTION XVIII. But before it was finished, occasion had been discovered
for farther improvements. The Senate found their new Council Chamber
inconveniently small, and, about thirty years after its completion,
began to consider where a larger and more magnificent one might be
built. The government was now thoroughly established, and it was
probably felt that there was some meanness in the retired position, as
well as insufficiency in the size, of the Council Chamber on the Rio.
The first definite account which I find of their proceedings, under
these circumstances, is in the Caroldo Chronicle: [Footnote: Cod. Ven.,
No. CXLI. p. 365.]

"1340. On the 28th of December, in the preceding year, Master Marco
Erizzo, Nicolo Soranzo, and Thomas Gradenigo, were chosen to examine
where a new saloon might be built in order to assemble therein the
Greater Council.... On the 3rd of June, 1341, the Great Council elected
two procurators of the work of this saloon, with a salary of eighty
ducats a year."

It appears from the entry still preserved in the Archivio, and quoted by
Cadorin, that it was on the 28th of December, 1340, that the
commissioners appointed to decide on this important matter gave in their
report to the Grand Council, and that the decree passed thereupon for the
commencement of a new Council Chamber on the Grand Canal. [Footnote:
Sansovino is more explicit than usual in his reference to this decree:
"For it having appeared that the place (the first Council Chamber) is not
capacious enough, the saloon on the Grand Canal was ordered." "Per cio
parendo che il luogo non fosse capace, fu ordinata la Sala sul Canal
Grande."--P. 324.]

_The room then begun is the one now in existence_, and its building
involved the building of all that is best and most beautiful in the
present Ducal Palace, the rich arcades of the lower stories being all
prepared for sustaining this Sala del Gran Consiglio.

SECTION XIX. In saying that it is the same now in existence, I do not
mean that it has undergone no alterations; as we shall see hereafter, it
has been refitted again and again, and some portions of its walls
rebuilt; but in the place and form in which it first stood, it still
stands; and by a glance at the position which its windows occupy, as
shown in Figure II. above, the reader will see at once that whatever can
be known respecting the design of the Sea Facade, must be gleaned out of
the entries which refer to the building of this Great Council Chamber.

Cadorin quotes two of great importance, to which we shall return in due
time, made during the progress of the work in 1342 and 1344; then one of
1349, resolving that the works at the Ducal Palace, which had been
discontinued during the plague, should be resumed; and finally one in
1362, which speaks of the Great Council Chamber as having been neglected
and suffered to fall into "great desolation," and resolves that it shall
be forthwith completed. [Footnote: Cadorin, 185, 2. The decree of 1342
is falsely given as of 1345 by the Sivos Chronicle, and by Magno; while
Sanuto gives the decree to its right year, 1342, but speaks of the
Council Chamber as only begun in 1345.]

The interruption had not been caused by the plague only, but by the
conspiracy of Faliero, and the violent death of the master builder.
[Footnote: Calendario. See Appendix I., Vol. III.] The work was resumed
in 1362, and completed within the next three years, at least so far as
that Guariento was enabled to paint his Paradise on the walls;
[Footnote: "II primo che vi colorisse fu Guariento il quale l'anno 1365
vi fece il Paradiso in testa della sala."--_Sansovino_.] so that
the building must, at any rate, have been roofed by this time. Its
decorations and fittings, however, were long in completion; the
paintings on the roof being only executed in 1400. [Footnote: "L'an poi
1400 vi fece il ciclo compartita a quadretti d'oro, ripieni di stelle,
ch'era la insegna del Doge Steno."--_Sansovino_, lib. viii.] They
represented the heavens covered with stars, [Footnote: "In questi tempi
si messe in oro il ciclo della sala del Gran Consiglio et si fece il
pergole del finestra grande chi guarda sul canale, adornato l'uno e
l'altro di stelle, eh' erano la insegne del Doge."--_Sansovino_,
lib. xiii. Compare also Pareri, p. 129.] this being, says Sansovino, the
bearings of the Doge Steno. Almost all ceilings and vaults were at this
time in Venice covered with stars, without any reference to armorial
bearings; but Steno claims, under his noble title of Stellifer, an
important share in completing the chamber, in an inscription upon two
square tablets, now inlaid in the walls on each side of the great window
towards the sea:


And in fact it is to this Doge that we owe the beautiful balcony of that
window, though the work above it is partly of more recent date; and I
think the tablets bearing this important inscription have been taken out
and reinserted in the newer masonry. The labor of these final
decorations occupied a total period of sixty years. The Grand Council
sat in the finished chamber for the first time in 1423. In that year the
Gothic Ducal Palace of Venice was completed. It had taken, to build it,
the energies of the entire period which I have above described as the
central one of her life.

SECTION XX. 3rd. The RENAISSANCE PALACE. I must go back a step or two,
in order to be certain that the reader understands clearly the state of
the palace in 1423. The works of addition or renovation had now been
proceeding, at intervals, during a space of a hundred and twenty-three
years. Three generations at least had been accustomed to witness the
gradual advancement of the form of the Ducal Palace into more stately
symmetry, and to contrast the Works of sculpture and painting with which
it was decorated,--full of the life, knowledge, and hope of the
fourteenth century,--with the rude Byzantine chiselling of the palace of
the Doge Ziani. The magnificent fabric just completed, of which the new
Council Chamber was the nucleus, was now habitually known in Venice as
the "Palazzo Nuovo;" and the old Byzantine edifice, now ruinous, and
more manifest in its decay by its contrast with the goodly stones of the
building which had been raised at its side, was of course known as the
"Palazzo Vecchio." [Footnote: Baseggio (Pareri, p. 127) is called the
Proto of the _New_ Palace. Farther notes will be found in Appendix I.,
Vol. III.] That fabric, however, still occupied the principal position in
Venice. The new Council Chamber had been erected by the side of it
towards the Sea; but there was not then the wide quay in front, the Riva
dei Schiavoni, which now renders the Sea Facade as important as that to
the Piazzetta. There was only a narrow walk between the pillars and the
water; and the _old_ palace of Ziani still faced the Piazzetta, and
interrupted, by its decrepitude, the magnificence of the square where the
nobles daily met. Every increase of the beauty of the new palace rendered
the discrepancy between it and the companion building more painful; and
then began to arise in the minds of all men a vague idea of the necessity
of destroying the old palace, and completing the front of the Piazzetta
with the same splendor as the Sea Facade. But no such sweeping measure of
renovation had been Contemplated by the Senate when they first formed the
plan of their new Council Chamber. First a single additional room, then a
gateway, then a larger room; but all considered merely as necessary
additions to the palace, not as involving the entire reconstruction of
the ancient edifice. The exhaustion of the treasury, and the shadows upon
the political horizon, rendered it more than imprudent to incur the vast
additional expense which such a project involved; and the Senate, fearful
of itself, and desirous to guard against the weakness of its own
enthusiasm, passed a decree, like the effort of a man fearful of some
strong temptation to keep his thoughts averted from the point of danger.
It was a decree, not merely that the old palace should not be rebuilt,
but that no one should _propose_ rebuilding it. The feeling of the
desirableness of doing so was, too strong to permit fair discussion, and
the Senate knew that to bring forward such a motion was to carry it.

SECTION XXI. The decree, thus passed in order to guard against their own
weakness, forbade any one to speak of rebuilding the old palace under
the penalty of a thousand ducats. But they had rated their own
enthusiasm too low: there was a man among them whom the loss of a
thousand ducats could not deter from proposing what he believed to be
for the good of the state.

Some excuse was given him for bringing forward the motion, by a fire
which occurred in 1419, and which injured both the church of St. Mark's,
and part of the old palace fronting the Piazzetta. What followed, I
shall relate in the words of Sanuto. [Footnote: Cronaca Sanudo, No.
cxxv. in the Marcian Library, p. 568.]

SECTION XXII. "Therefore they set themselves with all diligence and care
to repair and adorn sumptuously, first God's house; but in the Prince's
house things went on more slowly, _for it did not please the Doge_
[Footnote: Tomaso Mocenigo.] _to restore it in the form in which it
was before_; and they could not rebuild it altogether in a better
manner, so great was the parsimony of these old fathers; because it was
forbidden by laws, which condemned in a penalty of a thousand ducats any
one who should propose to throw down the _old_ palace, and to
rebuild it more richly and with greater expense. But the Doge, who was
magnanimous, and who desired above all things what was honorable to the
city, had the thousand ducats carried into the Senate Chamber, and then
proposed that the palace should be rebuilt; saying: that, 'since the
late fire had ruined in great part the Ducal habitation (not only his
own private palace, but all the places used for public business) this
occasion was to be taken for an admonishment sent from God, that they
ought to rebuild the palace more nobly, and in a way more befitting the
greatness to which, by God's grace, their dominions had reached; and
that his motive in proposing this was neither ambition, nor selfish
interest: that, as for ambition, they might have seen in the whole
course of his life, through so many years, that he had never done
anything for ambition, either in the city, or in foreign business; but
in all his actions had kept justice first in his thoughts, and then the
advantage of the state, and the honor of the Venetian name: and that, as
far as regarded his private interest, if it had not been for this
accident of the fire, he would never have thought of changing anything
in the palace into either a more sumptuous or a more honorable form; and
that during the many years in which he had lived in it, he had never
endeavored to make any change, but had always been content with it, as
his predecessors had left it; and that he knew well that, if they took
in hand to build it as he exhorted and besought them, being now very
old, and broken down with many toils, God would call him to another life
before the walls were raised a pace from the ground. And that therefore
they might perceive that he did not advise them to raise this building
for his own convenience, but only for the honor of the city and its
Dukedom; and that the good of it would never be felt by him, but by his
successors.' Then he said, that 'in order, as he had always done, to
observe the laws,... he had brought with him the thousand ducats which
had been appointed as the penalty for proposing such a measure, so that
he might prove openly to all men that it was not his own advantage that
he sought, but the dignity of the state.'" There was no one (Sanuto goes
on to tell us) who ventured, or desired, to oppose the wishes of the
Doge; and the thousand ducats were unanimously devoted to the expenses
of the work. "And they set themselves with much diligence to the work;
and the palace was begun in the form and manner in which it is at
present seen; but, as Mocenigo had prophesied, not long after, he ended
his life, and not only did not see the work brought to a close, but
hardly even begun."

SECTION XXIII. There are one or two expressions in the above extracts
which if they stood alone, might lead the reader to suppose that the
whole palace had been thrown down and rebuilt. We must however remember,
that, at this time, the new Council Chamber, which had been one hundred
years in building, was actually unfinished, the council had not yet sat
in it; and it was just as likely that the Doge should then propose to
destroy and rebuild it, as in this year, 1853, it is that any one should
propose in our House of Commons to throw down the new Houses of
Parliament, under the title of the "old palace," and rebuild _them_.

SECTION XXIV. The manner in which Sanuto expresses himself will at once
be seen to be perfectly natural, when it is remembered that although we
now speak of the whole building as the "Ducal Palace," it consisted, in
the minds of the old Venetians, of four distinct buildings. There were
in it the palace, the state prisons, the senate-house, and the offices
of public business; in other words, it was Buckingham Palace, the Tower
of olden days, the Houses of Parliament, and Downing Street, all in one;
and any of these four portions might be spoken of, without involving an
allusion to any other. "Il Palazzo" was the Ducal residence, which, with
most of the public offices, Mocenigo _did_ propose to pull down and
rebuild, and which was actually pulled down and rebuilt. But the new
Council Chamber, of which the whole facade to the Sea consisted, never
entered into either his or Sanuto's mind for an instant, as necessarily
connected with the Ducal residence.

I said that the new Council Chamber, at the time when Mocenigo brought
forward his measure, had never yet been used. It was in the year 1422
[Footnote: Vide notes in Appendix.] that the decree passed to rebuild
the palace: Mocenigo died in the following year, and Francesco Foscari
was elected in his room. [Footnote: On the 4th of April, 1423, according
to the copy of the Zancarol Chronicle in the Marcian Library, but
previously, according to the Caroldo Chronicle, which makes Foscari
enter the Senate as Doge on the 3rd of April.] The Great Council Chamber
was used for the first time on the day when Foscari entered the Senate
as Doge,--the 3rd of April, 1423, according to the Caroldo Chronicle;
[Footnote: "Nella quale (the Sala del Gran Consiglio) non si fece Gran
Consiglio salvo nell' anno 1423, alli 3, April, et fu il primo giorno
che il Duce Foscari venisse in Gran Consiglio dopo la sua
creatione."--Copy in Marcian Library, p. 365.] the 23rd, which is
probably correct, by an anonymous MS., No. 60, in the Correr Museum;
[Footnote: "E a di 23 April (1423, by the context) sequente fo fatto
Gran Conscio in la salla nuovo dovi avanti non esta piu fatto Gran
Conscio si che el primo Gran Conscio dopo la sua (Foscari's) creation fo
fatto in la sala nuova, nel qual conscio fu el Marchese di Mantoa," &c.,
p. 426.]--and, the following year, on the 27th of March, the first
hammer was lifted up against the old palace of Ziani. [Footnote: Compare
Appendix I. Vol. III.]

SECTION XXV. That hammer stroke was the first act of the period properly
called the "Renaissance" It was the knell of the architecture of
Venice,--and of Venice herself.

The central epoch of her life was past; the decay had already begun: I
dated its commencement above (Ch. I., Vol. I.) from the death of
Mocenigo. A year had not yet elapsed since that great Doge had been
called to his account: his patriotism, always sincere, had been in this
instance mistaken; in his zeal for the honor of future Venice, he had
forgotten what was due to the Venice of long ago. A thousand palaces
might be built upon her burdened islands, but none of them could take
the place, or recall the memory, of that which was first built upon her
unfrequented shore. It fell; and, as if it had been the talisman of her
fortunes, the city never flourished again.

SECTION XXVI. I have no intention of following out, in their intricate
details, the operations which were begun under Foscari and continued
under succeeding Doges till the palace assumed its present form, for I
am not in this work concerned, except by occasional reference, with the
architecture of the fifteenth century: but the main facts are the
following. The palace of Ziani was destroyed; the existing facade to the
Piazzetta built, so as both to continue and to resemble, in most
particulars, the work of the Great Council Chamber. It was carried back
from the Sea as far as the Judgment angle; beyond which is the Porta
della Carta, begun in 1439, and finished in two years, under the Doge
Foscari; [Footnote: "Tutte queste fatture si compirono sotto il dogade
del Foscari, nel 1441."--_Pareri_, p. 131.] the interior buildings
connected with it were added by the Doge Christopher Moro, (the Othello
of Shakspeare) [Footnote: This identification has been accomplished, and
I think conclusively, by my friend Mr. Rawdon Brown, who has devoted all
the leisure which, during the last twenty years his manifold office of
kindness to almost every English visitant of Venice have left him, in
discovering and translating the passages of the Venetian records which
bear upon English history and literature. I shall have occasion to take
advantage hereafter of a portion of his labors, which I trust will
shortly be made public.] in 1462.

SECTION XXVII. By reference to the figure the reader will see that we
have now gone the round of the palace, and that the new work of 1462 was
close upon the first piece of the Gothic palace, the _new_ Council
Chamber of 1301. Some remnants of the Ziani Palace were perhaps still
left between the two extremities of the Gothic Palace; or as is more
probable, the last stones of it may have been swept away after the fire
of 1419, and replaced by new apartments for the Doge. But whatever
buildings, old or new, stood on this spot at the time of the completion
of the Porta della Carta were destroyed by another great fire in 1479,
together with so much of the palace on the Rio that, though the saloon
of Gradenigo, then known as the Sala de' Pregadi, was not destroyed, it
became necessary to reconstruct the entire facades of the portion of the
palace behind the Bridge of Sighs, both towards the court and canal.
This work was entrusted to the best Renaissance architects of the close
of the fifteenth and opening of the sixteenth centuries; Antonio Ricci
executing the Giant's staircase, and on his absconding with a large sum
of the public money, Pietro Lombardo taking his place. The whole work
must have been completed towards the middle of the sixteenth century.
The architects of the palace, advancing round the square and led by
fire, had more than reached the point from which they had set out; and
the work of 1560 was joined to the work of 1301-1340, at the point
marked by the conspicuous vertical line in Figure II on the Rio Facade.

SECTION XVIII. But the palace was not long permitted to remain in this
finished form. Another terrific fire, commonly called the great fire,
burst out in 1574, and destroyed the inner fittings and all the precious
pictures of the Great Council Chamber, and of all the upper rooms on the
Sea Facade, and most of those on the Rio Facade, leaving the building a
mere shell, shaken and blasted by the flames. It was debated in the
Great Council whether the ruin should not be thrown down, and an
entirely new palace built in its stead. The opinions of all the leading
architects of Venice were taken, respecting the safety of the walls, or
the possibility of repairing them as they stood. These opinions, given
in writing, have been preserved, and published by the Abbe Cadorin, in
the work already so often referred to; and they form one of the most
important series of documents connected with the Ducal Palace.

I cannot help feeling some childish pleasure in the accidental
resemblance to my own name in that of the architect whose opinion was
first given in favor of the ancient fabric, Giovanni Rusconi. Others,
especially Palladio, wanted to pull down the old palace, and execute
designs of their own; but the best architects in Venice, and to his
immortal honor, chiefly Francesco Sansovino, energetically pleaded for
the Gothic pile, and prevailed. It was successfully repaired, and
Tintoret painted his noblest picture on the wall from which the Paradise
of Guariento had withered before the flames.

SECTION XXIX. The repairs necessarily undertaken at this time were
however extensive, and interfered in many directions with the earlier
work of the palace: still the only serious alteration in its form was
the transposition of the prisons, formerly at the top of the palace to
the other side of the Rio del Palazzo; and the building of the Bridge of
Sighs, to connect them with the palace, by Antonio da Ponte. The
completion of this work brought the whole edifice into its present form;
with the exception of alterations indoors, partitions, and staircases
among the inner apartments, not worth noticing, and such barbarisms and
defacements as have been suffered within the last fifty years, by, I
suppose nearly every building of importance in Italy.

SECTION XXX. Now, therefore, we are at liberty to examine some of the
details of the Ducal Palace, without any doubt about their dates. I
shall not however, give any elaborate illustrations of them here,
because I could not do them justice on the scale of the page of this
volume, or by means of line engraving. I believe a new era is opening to
us in the art of illustration, [Footnote: See the last chapter of the
third volume, Stones of Venice.] and that I shall be able to give large
figures of the details of the Ducal Palace at a price which will enable
every person who is interested in the subject to possess them; so that
the cost and labor of multiplying illustrations here would be altogether
wasted. I shall therefore direct the reader's attention only to such
points of interest as can be explained in the text.

SECTION XXXI. First, then, looking back to the woodcut at the beginning
of this chapter, the reader will observe that, as the building was very
nearly square on the ground plan, a peculiar prominence and importance
were given to its angles, which rendered it necessary that they should
be enriched and softened by sculpture. I do not suppose that the fitness
of this arrangement will be questioned; but if the reader will take the
pains to glance over any series of engravings of church towers or other
four-square buildings in which great refinement of form has been
attained, he will at once observe how their effect depends on some
modification of the sharpness of the angle, either by groups of
buttresses, or by turrets and niches rich in sculpture. It is to be
noted also that this principle of breaking the angle is peculiarly
Gothic, arising partly out of the necessity of strengthening the flanks
of enormous buildings, where composed of imperfect materials, by
buttresses or pinnacles; partly out of the conditions of Gothic warfare,
which generally required a tower at the angle; partly out of the natural
dislike of the meagreness of effect in buildings which admitted large
surfaces of wall, if the angle were entirely unrelieved. The Ducal
Palace, in its acknowledgment of this principle, makes a more definite
concession to the Gothic spirit than any of the previous architecture of
Venice. No angle, up to the time of its erection, had been otherwise
decorated than by a narrow fluted pilaster of red marble, and the
sculpture was reserved always, as in Greek and Roman work, for the plane
surfaces of the building, with, as far as I recollect, two exceptions
only, both in St. Mark's; namely, the bold and grotesque gargoyle on its
north-west angle, and the angels which project from the four inner
angles under the main cupola; both of these arrangements being plainly
made under Lombardic influence. And if any other instances occur, which
I may have at present forgotten, I am very sure the Northern influence
will always be distinctly traceable in them.

SECTION XXXII. The Ducal Palace, however, accepts the principle in its
completeness, and throws the main decoration upon its angles. The
central window, which looks rich and important in the woodcut, was
entirely restored in the Renaissance time, as we have seen, under the
Doge Steno; so that we have no traces of its early treatment; and the
principal interest of the older palace is concentrated in the angle
sculpture, which is arranged in the following manner. The pillars of the
two bearing arcades are much enlarged in thickness at the angles, and
their capitals increased in depth, breadth, and fulness of subject;
above each capital, on the angle of the wall, a sculptural subject is
introduced, consisting, in the great lower arcade, of two or more
figures of the size of life; in the upper arcade, of a single angel
holding a scroll: above these angels rise the twisted pillars with their
crowning niches, already noticed in the account of parapets in the
seventh chapter; thus forming an unbroken line of decoration from the
ground to the top of the angle.

SECTION XXXIII. It was before noticed that one of the corners of the
palace joins the irregular outer buildings connected with St. Mark's,
and is not generally seen. There remain, therefore, to be decorated,
only the three angles, above distinguished as the Vine angle, the
Fig-tree angle, and the Judgment angle; and at these we have, according
to the arrangement just explained,--

First, Three great bearing capitals (lower arcade).

Secondly, Three figure subjects of sculpture above them (lower arcade).

Thirdly, Three smaller bearing capitals (upper arcade).

Fourthly, Three angels above them (upper arcade).

Fifthly, Three spiral, shafts with niches.

SECTION XXXIV. I shall describe the bearing capitals hereafter, in their
order, with the others of the arcade; for the first point to which the
reader's attention ought to be directed is the choice of subject in the
great figure sculptures above them. These, observe, are the very corner
stones of the edifice, and in them we may expect to find the most
important evidences of the feeling, as well as the skill, of the
builder. If he has anything to say to us of the purpose with which he
built the palace, it is sure to be said here; if there was any lesson
which he wished principally to teach to those for whom he built, here it
is sure to be inculcated; if there was any sentiment which they
themselves desired to have expressed in the principal edifice of their
city, this is the place in which we may be secure of finding it legibly

SECTION XXXV. Now the first two angles, of the Vine and Fig-tree, belong
to the old, or true Gothic, Palace; the third angle belongs to the
Renaissance imitation of it: therefore, at the first two angles, it is
the Gothic spirit which is going to speak to us; and, at the third, the
Renaissance spirit.

The reader remembers, I trust, that the most characteristic sentiment of
all that we traced in the working of the Gothic heart, was the frank
confession of its own weakness; and I must anticipate, for a moment, the
results of our inquiry in subsequent chapters, so far as to state that
the principal element in the Renaissance spirit, is its firm confidence
in its own wisdom.

Hear, then, the two spirits speak for themselves.

The first main sculpture of the Gothic Palace is on what I have called
the angle of the Fig-tree:

Its subject is the FALL OF MAN.

The second sculpture is on the angle of the Vine:

Its subject is the DRUNKENNESS OF NOAH.

The Renaissance sculpture is on the Judgment angle:

Its subject is the JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON.

It is impossible to overstate, or to regard with too much admiration,
the significance of this single fact. It is as if the palace had been
built at various epochs, and preserved uninjured to this day, for the
sole purpose of teaching us the difference in the temper of the two

SECTION XXXVI. I have called the sculpture on the Fig-tree angle the
principal one; because it is at the central bend of the palace, where it
turns to the Piazetta (the facade upon the Piazetta being, as we saw
above, the more important one in ancient times). The great capital,
which sustains this Fig-tree angle, is also by far more elaborate than
the head of the pilaster under the Vine angle, marking the preeminence
of the former in the architect's mind. It is impossible to say which was
first executed, but that of the Fig-tree angle is somewhat rougher in
execution, and more stiff in the design of the figures, so that I rather
suppose it to have been the earliest completed.

SECTION XXXVII. In both the subjects, of the Fall and the Drunkenness,
the tree, which forms the chiefly decorative portion of the
sculpture,--fig in the one case, vine in the other,--was a necessary
adjunct. Its trunk, in both sculptures, forms the true outer angle of
the palace; boldly cut separate from the stonework behind, and branching
out above the figures so as to enwrap each side of the angle, for
several feet, with its deep foliage. Nothing can be more masterly or
superb than the sweep of this foliage on the Fig-tree angle; the broad
leaves lapping round the budding fruit, and sheltering from sight,
beneath their shadows, birds of the most graceful form and delicate
plumage. The branches are, however, so strong, and the masses of stone
hewn into leafage so large, that, notwithstanding the depth of the
undercutting, the work remains nearly uninjured; not so at the Vine
angle, where the natural delicacy of the vine-leaf and tendril having
tempted the sculptor to greater effort, he has passed the proper limits
of his art, and cut the upper stems so delicately that half of them have
been broken away by the casualties to which the situation of the
sculpture necessarily exposes it. What remains is, however, so
interesting in its extreme refinement, that I have chosen it for the
subject of the first illustration [Footnote: See note at end of this
chapter.] rather than the nobler masses of the fig-tree, which ought to
be rendered on a larger scale. Although half of the beauty of the
composition is destroyed by the breaking away of its central masses,
there is still enough in the distribution of the variously bending
leaves, and in the placing of the birds on the lighter branches, to
prove to us the power of the designer. I have already referred to this
Plate as a remarkable instance of the Gothic Naturalism; and, indeed, it
is almost impossible for the copying of nature to be carried farther
than in the fibres of the marble branches, and the careful finishing of
the tendrils: note especially the peculiar expression of the knotty
joints of the vine in the light branch which rises highest. Yet only
half the finish of the work can be seen in the Plate: for, in several
cases, the sculptor has shown the under sides of the leaves turned
boldly to the light, and has literally _carved every rib and vein upon
them, in relief_; not merely the main ribs which sustain the lobes of
the leaf, and actually project in nature, but the irregular and sinuous
veins which chequer the membranous tissues between them, and which the
sculptor has represented conventionally as relieved like the others, in
order to give the vine leaf its peculiar tessellated effect upon the

SECTION XXXVIII. As must always be the case in early sculpture, the
figures are much inferior to the leafage; yet so skilful in many
respects, that it was a long time before I could persuade myself that
they had indeed been wrought in the first half of the fourteenth
century. Fortunately, the date is inscribed upon a monument in the
Church of San Simeon Grande, bearing a recumbent statue of the saint, of
far finer workmanship, in every respect, than those figures of the Ducal
Palace, yet so like them, that I think there can be no question that the
head of Noah was wrought by the sculptor of the palace in emulation of
that of the statue of St. Simeon. In this latter sculpture, the face is
represented in death; the mouth partly open, the lips thin and sharp,
the teeth carefully sculptured beneath; the face full of quietness and
majesty, though very ghastly; the hair and beard flowing in luxuriant
wreaths, disposed with the most masterly freedom, yet severity, of
design, far down upon the shoulders; the hands crossed upon the body,
carefully studied, and the veins and sinews perfectly and easily
expressed, yet without any attempt at extreme finish or display of
technical skill. This monument bears date 1317, [Footnote: "IN XRI--NOIE
in the year of the incarnation, 1317, in the month of September," &c.]
and its sculptor was justly proud of it; thus recording his name:


SECTION XXXIX. The head of the Noah on the Ducal Palace, evidently
worked in emulation of this statue, has the same profusion of flowing
hair and beard, but wrought in smaller and harder curls; and the veins
on the arms and breast are more sharply drawn, the sculptor being
evidently more practised in keen and fine lines of vegetation than in
those of the figure; so that, which is most remarkable in a workman of
this early period, he has failed in telling his story plainly, regret
and wonder being so equally marked on the features of all the three
brothers that it is impossible to say which is intended for Ham. Two of
the heads of the brothers are seen in the Plate; the third figure is not
with the rest of the group, but set at a distance of about twelve feet,
on the other side of the arch which springs from the angle capital.

SECTION XL. It may be observed, as a farther evidence of the date of the
group, that, in the figures of all the three youths, the feet are
protected simply by a bandage arranged in crossed folds round the ankle
and lower part of the limb; a feature of dress which will be found in
nearly every piece of figure sculpture in Venice, from the year 1300 to
1380, and of which the traveller may see an example within three hundred
yards of this very group, in the bas-reliefs on the tomb of the Doge
Andrea Dandolo (in St. Mark's), who died in 1354.

SECTION XLI. The figures of Adam and Eve, sculptured on each side of the
Fig-tree angle, are more stiff than those of Noah and his sons, but are
better fitted for their architectural service; and the trunk of the
tree, with the angular body of the serpent writhed around it, is more
nobly treated as a terminal group of lines than that of the vine.

The Renaissance sculptor of the figures of the Judgment of Solomon has
very nearly copied the fig-tree from this angle, placing its trunk
between the executioner and the mother, who leans forward to stay his
hand. But, though the whole group is much more free in design than those
of the earlier palace, and in many ways excellent in itself, so that it
always strikes the eye of a careless observer more than the others, it
is of immeasurably inferior spirit in the workmanship; the leaves of the
tree, though far more studiously varied in flow than those of the
fig-tree from which they are partially copied, have none of its truth to
nature; they are ill set on the steins, bluntly defined on the edges,
and their curves are not those of growing leaves, but of wrinkled

SECTION XLII. Above these three sculptures are set, in the upper arcade,
the statues of the archangels Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel: their
positions will be understood by reference to the lowest figure in Plate
XVII., where that of Raphael above the Vine angle is seen on the right.
A diminutive figure of Tobit follows at his feet, and he bears in his
hand a scroll with this inscription:


i.e. Effice (quseso?) fretum, Raphael reverende, quietum. [Footnote:
"Oh, venerable Raphael, make thou the gulf calm, we beseech thee." The
peculiar office of the angel Raphael is, in general, according to
tradition, the restraining the harmful influences of evil spirits. Sir
Charles Eastlake told me, that sometimes in this office he is
represented bearing the gall of the fish caught by Tobit; and reminded
me of the peculiar superstitions of the Venetians respecting the raising
of storms by fiends, as embodied in the well known tale of the Fisherman
and St. Mark's ring.] I could not decipher the inscription on the scroll
borne by the angel Michael; and the figure of Gabriel, which is by much
the most beautiful feature of the Renaissance portion of the palace, has
only in its hand the Annunciation lily.

SECTION XLIII. Such are the subjects of the main sculptures decorating
the angles of the palace; notable, observe, for their simple expression
of two feelings, the consciousness of human frailty, and the dependence
upon Divine guidance and protection: this being, of course, the general
purpose of the introduction of the figures of the angels; and, I
imagine, intended to be more particularly conveyed by the manner in
which the small figure of Tobit follows the steps of Raphael, just
touching the hem of his garment. We have next to examine the course of
divinity and of natural history embodied by the old sculpture in the
great series of capitals which support the lower arcade of the palace;
and which, being at a height of little more than eight feet above the
eye, might be read, like the pages of a book, by those (the noblest men
in Venice) who habitually walked beneath the shadow of this great arcade
at the time of their first meeting each other for morning converse.

SECTION XLIV. We will now take the pillars of the Ducal Palace in their
order. It has already been mentioned (Vol. I. Chap. I. Section XLVI.)
that there are, in all, thirty-six great pillars supporting the lower
story; and that these are to be counted from right to left, because then
the more ancient of them come first: and that, thus arranged, the first,
which is not a shaft, but a pilaster, will be the support of the Vine
angle; the eighteenth will be the great shaft of the Fig-tree angle; and
the thirty-sixth, that of the Judgment angle.

SECTION XLV. All their capitals, except that of the first, are
octagonal, and are decorated by sixteen leaves, differently enriched in
every capital, but arranged in the same way; eight of them rising to the
angles, and there forming volutes; the eight others set between them, on
the sides, rising half-way up the bell of the capital; there nodding
forward, and showing above them, rising out of their luxuriance, the
groups or single figures which we have to examine. [Footnote: I have
given one of these capitals carefully already in my folio work, and hope
to give most of the others in due time. It was of no use to draw them
here, as the scale would have been too small to allow me to show the
expression of the figures.] In some instances, the intermediate or lower
leaves are reduced to eight sprays of foliage; and the capital is left
dependent for its effect on the bold position of the figures. In
referring to the figures on the octagonal capitals, I shall call the
outer side, fronting either the Sea or the Piazzetta, the first side;
and so count round from left to right; the fourth side being thus, of
course, the innermost. As, however, the first five arches were walled up
after the great fire, only three sides of their capitals are left
visible, which we may describe as the front and the eastern and western
sides of each.

SECTION XLVI. FIRST CAPITAL: i.e. of the pilaster at the Vine angle.

In front, towards the Sea. A child holding a bird before him, with its
wings expanded, covering his breast.

On its eastern side. Children's heads among leaves.

On its western side. A child carrying in one hand a comb; in the other,
a pair of scissors.

It appears curious, that this, the principal pilaster of the facade,
should have been decorated only by these graceful grotesques, for I can
hardly suppose them anything more. There may be meaning in them, but I
will not venture to conjecture any, except the very plain and practical
meaning conveyed by the last figure to all Venetian children, which it
would be well if they would act upon. For the rest, I have seen the comb
introduced in grotesque work as early as the thirteenth century, but
generally for the purpose of ridiculing too great care in dressing the
hair, which assuredly is not its purpose here. The children's heads are
very sweet and full of life, but the eyes sharp and small.

SECTION XLVII. SECOND CAPITAL. Only three sides of the original work are
left unburied by the mass of added wall. Each side has a bird, one
web-footed, with a fish, one clawed, with a serpent, which opens its
jaws, and darts its tongue at the bird's breast; the third pluming
itself, with a feather between the mandibles of its bill. It is by far
the most beautiful of the three capitals decorated with birds.

THIRD CAPITAL. Also has three sides only left. They have three heads,
large, and very ill cut; one female, and crowned.

FOURTH CAPITAL. Has three children. The eastern one is defaced: the one
in front holds a small bird, whose plumage is beautifully indicated, in
its right hand; and with its left holds up half a walnut, showing the
nut inside: the third holds a fresh fig, cut through, showing the seeds.

The hair of all the three children is differently worked: the first has
luxuriant flowing hair, and a double chin; the second, light flowing
hair falling in pointed locks on the forehead; the third, crisp curling
hair, deep cut with drill holes.

This capital has been copied on the Renaissance side of the palace, only
with such changes in the ideal of the children as the workman thought
expedient and natural. It is highly interesting to compare the child of
the fourteenth with the child of the fifteenth century. The early heads
are full of youthful life, playful, humane, affectionate, beaming with
sensation and vivacity, but with much manliness and firmness, also, not
a little cunning, and some cruelty perhaps, beneath all; the features
small and hard, and the eyes keen. There is the making of rough and
great men in them. But the children of the fifteenth century are dull
smooth-faced dunces, without a single meaning line in the fatness of
their stolid cheeks; and, although, in the vulgar sense, as handsome as
the other children are ugly, capable of becoming nothing but perfumed

FIFTH CAPITAL. Still three sides only left, bearing three half-length
statues of kings; this is the first capital which bears any inscription.
In front, a king with a sword in his right hand points to a handkerchief
embroidered and fringed, with a head on it, carved on the cavetto of the
abacus. His name is written above, "TITUS VESPASIAN IMPERATOR"
(contracted IPAT.).

On eastern side, "TRAJANUS IMPERATOR." Crowned, a sword in right hand,
and sceptre in left.

On western, "(OCT)AVIANUS AUGUSTUS IMPERATOR." The "OCT" is broken away.
He bears a globe in his right hand, with "MUNDUS PACIS" upon it; a
sceptre in his left, which I think has terminated in a human figure. He
has a flowing beard, and a singularly high crown; the face is much
injured, but has once been very noble in expression.

SIXTH CAPITAL. Has large male and female heads, very coarsely cut, hard,
and bad.

SECTION XLVIII. SEVENTH CAPITAL. This is the first of the series which
is complete; the first open arch of the lower arcade being between it
and the sixth. It begins the representation of the Virtues.

_First side_. Largitas, or Liberality: always distinguished from
the higher Charity. A male figure, with his lap full of money, which he
pours out of his hand. The coins are plain, circular, and smooth; there
is no attempt to mark device upon them. The inscription above is,

In the copy of this design on the twenty-fifth capital, instead of
showering out the gold from his open hand, the figure holds it in a
plate or salver, introduced for the sake of disguising the direct
imitation. The changes thus made in the Renaissance pillars are always

This virtue is the proper opponent of Avarice; though it does not occur
in the systems of Orcagna or Giotto, being included in Charity. It was a
leading virtue with Aristotle and the other ancients.

SECTION XLIX. _Second side_. Constancy; not very characteristic. An
armed man with a sword in his hand, inscribed, "CONSTANTIA SUM, NIL

This virtue is one of the forms of fortitude, and Giotto therefore sets
as the vice opponent to Fortitude, "Inconstantia," represented as a
woman in loose drapery, falling from a rolling globe. The vision seen in
the interpreter's house in the Pilgrim's Progress, of the man with a
very bold countenance, who says to him who has the writer's ink-horn by
his side, "Set down my name," is the best personification of the
Venetian "Constantia" of which I am aware in literature. It would be
well for us all to consider whether we have yet given the order to the
man with the ink-horn, "Set down my name."

SECTION L. _Third side_. Discord; holding up her finger, but
needing the inscription above to assure us of her meaning, "DISCORDIA
SUM, DISCORDIANS." In the Renaissance copy she is a meek and nun-like
person with a veil.

She is the Ate of Spencer; "mother of debate," thus described in the
fourth book:

  "Her face most fowle and filthy was to see,
   With squinted eyes contrarie wayes intended;
   And loathly mouth, unmeete a mouth to bee,
   That nought but gall and venim comprehended,
   And wicked wordes that God and man offended:
   Her lying tongue was in two parts divided,
   And both the parts did speake, and both contended;
   And as her tongue, so was her hart discided,
   That never thoght one thing, but doubly stil was guided."

Note the fine old meaning of "discided," cut in two; it is a great pity
we have lost this powerful expression. We might keep "determined" for
the other sense of the word.

SECTION LI. _Fourth side_. Patience. A female figure, very
expressive and lovely, in a hood, with her right hand on her breast, the
left extended, inscribed "PATIENTIA MANET MECUM."

She is one of the principal virtues in all the Christian systems: a
masculine virtue in Spenser, and beautifully placed as the _PHYSICIAN_ in
the House of Holinesse. The opponent vice, Impatience, is one of the hags
who attend the Captain of the Lusts of the Flesh; the other being
Impotence. In like manner, in the "Pilgrim's Progress," the opposite of
Patience is Passion; but Spenser's thought is farther carried. His two
hags, Impatience and Impotence, as attendant upon the evil spirit of
Passion, embrace all the phenomena of human conduct, down even to the
smallest matters, according to the adage, "More haste, worse speed."

SECTION LII. _Fifth side_. Despair. A female figure thrusting a
dagger into her throat, and tearing her long hair, which flows down
among the leaves of the capital below her knees. One of the finest
figures of the series; inscribed "DESPERACIO MOS (mortis?) CRUDELIS." In
the Renaissance copy she is totally devoid of expression, and appears,
instead of tearing her hair, to be dividing it into long curls on each

This vice is the proper opposite of Hope. By Giotto she is represented
as a woman hanging herself, a fiend coming for her soul. Spenser's
vision of Despair is well known, it being indeed currently reported that
this part of the Faerie Queen was the first which drew to it the
attention of Sir Philip Sidney.

SECTION LIII. _Sixth side_. Obedience: with her arms folded; meek,
but rude and commonplace, looking at a little dog standing on its hind
legs and begging, with a collar round its neck. Inscribed "OBEDIENTI *
*;" the rest of the sentence is much defaced, but looks like

I suppose the note of contraction above the final A has disappeared and
that the inscription was "Obedientiam domino exhibeo."

This virtue is, of course, a principal one in the monkish systems;
represented by Giotto at Assisi as "an angel robed in black, placing the
finger of his left hand on his mouth, and passing the yoke over the head
of a Franciscan monk kneeling at his feet." [Footnote: Lord Lindsay,
vol. ii. p. 226.]

Obedience holds a less principal place in Spenser. We have seen her
above associated with the other peculiar virtues of womanhood.

SECTION LIV. _Seventh side_. Infidelity. A man in a turban, with a
small image in his hand, or the image of a child. Of the inscription
nothing but "INFIDELITATE * * *" and some fragmentary letters, "ILI,
CERO," remain.

By Giotto Infidelity is most nobly symbolized as a woman helmeted, the
helmet having a broad rim which keeps the light from her eyes. She is
covered with heavy drapery, stands infirmly as if about to fall, _is
bound by a cord round her neck to an image_ which she carries in her
hand, and has flames bursting forth at her feet.

In Spenser, Infidelity is the Saracen knight Sans Foy,--

      "Full large of limbe and every joint
  He was, and cared not for God or man a point."

For the part which he sustains in the contest with Godly Fear, or the
Red-cross knight, see Appendix 2, Vol. III.

SECTION LV. _Eighth side_. Modesty; bearing a pitcher. (In the
Renaissance copy, a vase like a coffeepot.) Inscribed "MODESTIA

I do not find this virtue in any of the Italian series, except that of
Venice. In Spenser she is of course one of those attendant on Womanhood,
but occurs as one of the tenants of the Heart of Man, thus portrayed in
the second book:

  "Straunge was her tyre, and all her garment blew,
   Close rownd about her tuckt with many a plight:
   Upon her fist the bird which shonneth vew.

         *       *       *       *       *

   And ever and anone with rosy red
   The bashfull blood her snowy cheekes did dye,
   That her became, as polisht yvory
   Which cunning craftesman hand hath overlayd
   With fayre vermilion or pure castory."

SECTION LVI. EIGHTH CAPITAL. It has no inscriptions, and its subjects
are not, by themselves, intelligible; but they appear to be typical of
the degradation of human instincts.

_First side_. A caricature of Arion on his dolphin; he wears a cap
ending in a long proboscis-like horn, and plays a violin with a curious
twitch of the bow and wag of the head, very graphically expressed, but
still without anything approaching to the power of Northern grotesque.
His dolphin has a goodly row of teeth, and the waves beat over his back.

_Second side_. A human figure, with curly hair and the legs of a
bear; the paws laid, with great sculptural skill, upon the foliage. It
plays a violin, shaped like a guitar, with a bent double-stringed bow.

_Third side_. A figure with a serpent's tail and a monstrous head,
founded on a Negro type, hollow-cheeked, large-lipped, and wearing a cap
made of a serpent's skin, holding a fir-cone in its hand.

_Fourth side_. A monstrous figure, terminating below in a tortoise.
It is devouring a gourd, which it grasps greedily with both hands; it
wears a cap ending in a hoofed leg.

_Fifth side_. A centaur wearing a crested helmet, and holding a
curved sword.

_Sixth side_. A knight, riding a headless horse, and wearing a
chain armor, with a triangular shield flung behind his back, and a
two-edged sword.

_Seventh side_. A figure like that on the fifth, wearing a round
helmet, and with the legs and tail of a horse. He bears a long mace with
a top like a fir-cone.

_Eighth side_. A figure with curly hair, and an acorn in its hand,
ending below in a fish.

SECTION LVII. NINTH CAPITAL. _First side_. Faith. She has her left
hand on her breast, and the cross on her right. Inscribed "FIDES OPTIMA
IN DEO." The Faith of Giotto holds the cross in her right hand; in her
left, a scroll with the Apostles' Creed. She treads upon cabalistic
books, and has a key suspended to her waist. Spenser's Faith (Fidelia)
is still more spiritual and noble:

  "She was araied all in lilly white,
  And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,
  With wine and water fild up to the hight,
  In which a serpent did himselfe enfold,
  That horrour made to all that did behold;
  But she no whitt did chaunge her constant mood:
  And in her other hand she fast did hold
  A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood;
  Wherein darke things were writt, hard to be understood."

SECTION LVIII. _Second side_. Fortitude. A long-bearded man [Samson?]
tearing open a lion's jaw. The inscription is illegible, and the somewhat
vulgar personification appears to belong rather to Courage than
Fortitude. On the Renaissance copy it is inscribed "FORTITUDO SUM
VIRILIS." The Latin word has, perhaps, been received by the sculptor as
merely signifying "Strength," the rest of the perfect idea of this virtue
having been given in "Constantia" previously. But both these Venetian
symbols together do not at all approach the idea of Fortitude as given
generally by Giotto and the Pisan sculptors; clothed with a lion's skin,
knotted about her neck, and falling to her feet in deep folds; drawing
back her right hand, with the sword pointed towards her enemy; and
slightly retired behind her immovable shield, which, with Giotto, is
square, and rested on the ground like a tower, covering her up to above
her shoulders; bearing on it a lion, and with broken heads of javelins
deeply infixed.

Among the Greeks, this is, of course, one of the principal virtues; apt,
however, in their ordinary conception of it to degenerate into mere
manliness or courage.

SECTION LIX. _Third side_. Temperance; bearing a pitcher of water
and a cup. Inscription, illegible here, and on the Renaissance copy
nearly so, "TEMPERANTIA SUM" (INOM' L'S)? Only left. In this somewhat
vulgar and most frequent conception of this virtue (afterwards
continually repeated, as by Sir Joshua in his window at New-College)
temperance is confused with mere abstinence, the opposite of Gula, or
gluttony; whereas the Greek Temperance, a truly cardinal virtue, is the
moderator of _all_ the passions, and so represented by Giotto, who
has placed a bridle upon her lips, and a sword in her hand, the hilt of
which she is binding to the scabbard. In his system, she is opposed
among the vices, not by Gula or Gluttony, but by Ira, Anger. So also the
Temperance of Spenser, or Sir Guyon, but with mingling of much

  "A goodly knight, all armd in harnesse meete,
   That from his head no place appeared to his feete,
   His carriage was full comely and upright;
   His countenance demure and temperate;
   But yett so sterne and terrible in sight,
   That cheard his friendes, and did his foes amate."

The Temperance of the Greeks, [Greek: sophrosunae] involves the idea
of Prudence, and is a most noble virtue, yet properly marked by Plato as
inferior to sacred enthusiasm, though necessary for its government. He
opposes it, under the name "Mortal Temperance" or "the Temperance which
is of men," to divine madness, [Greek: mania,] or inspiration; but he
most justly and nobly expresses the general idea of it under the term
[Greek: ubris], which, in the "Phaedrus," is divided into various
intemperances with respect to various objects, and set forth under the
image of a black, vicious, diseased and furious horse, yoked by the side
of Prudence or Wisdom (set forth under the figure of a white horse with a
crested and noble head, like that which we have among the Elgin Marbles)
to the chariot of the Soul. The system of Aristotle, as above stated, is
throughout a mere complicated blunder, supported by sophistry, the
laboriously developed mistake of Temperance for the essence of the
virtues which it guides. Temperance in the mediaeval systems is generally
opposed by Anger, or by Folly, or Gluttony: but her proper opposite is
Spenser's Acrasia, the principal enemy of Sir Guyon, at whose gates we
find the subordinate vice "Excesse," as the introduction to Intemperance;
a graceful and feminine image, necessary to illustrate the more dangerous
forms of subtle intemperance, as opposed to the brutal "Gluttony" in the
first book. She presses grapes into a cup, because of the words of St.
Paul, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;" but always delicately,

  "Into her cup she scruzd with daintie breach
   Of her fine fingers, without fowle empeach,
   That so faire winepresse made the wine more sweet."

The reader will, I trust, pardon these frequent extracts from Spenser,
for it is nearly as necessary to point out the profound divinity and
philosophy of our great English poet, as the beauty of the Ducal Palace.

SECTION LX. _Fourth side_. Humility; with a veil upon her head,
carrying a lamp in her lap. Inscribed in the copy, "HUMILITAS HABITAT IN

This virtue is of course a peculiarly Christian one, hardly recognized
in the Pagan systems, though carefully impressed upon the Greeks in
early life in a manner which at this day it would be well if we were to
imitate, and, together with an almost feminine modesty, giving an
exquisite grace to the conduct and bearing of the well-educated Greek
youth. It is, of course, one of the leading virtues in all the monkish
systems, but I have not any notes of the manner of its representation.

SECTION LXI. _Fifth side_. Charity. A woman with her lap full of
loaves (?), giving one to a child, who stretches his arm out for it
across a broad gap in the leafage of the capital.

Again very far inferior to the Giottesque rendering of this virtue. In
the Arena Chapel she is distinguished from all the other virtues by
having a circular glory round her head, and a cross of fire; she is
crowned with flowers, presents with her right hand a vase of corn and
fruit, and with her left receives treasure from Christ, who appears
above her, to provide her with the means of continual offices of
beneficence, while she tramples under foot the treasures of the earth.

The peculiar beauty of most of the Italian conceptions of Charity, is in
the subjection of mere munificence to the glowing of her love, always
represented by flames; here in the form of a cross round her head; in
Orcagna's shrine at Florence, issuing from a censer in her hand; and,
with Dante, inflaming her whole form, so that, in a furnace of clear
fire, she could not have been discerned.

Spenser represents her as a mother surrounded by happy children, an idea
afterwards grievously hackneyed and vulgarized by English painters and

SECTION LXII. _Sixth side_. Justice. Crowned, and with sword.
Inscribed in the copy, "REX SUM JUSTICIE."

This idea was afterwards much amplified and adorned in the only good
capital of the Renaissance series, under the Judgment angle. Giotto has
also given his whole strength to the painting of this virtue,
representing her as enthroned under a noble Gothic canopy, holding
scales, not by the beam, but one in each hand; a beautiful idea, showing
that the equality of the scales of Justice is not owing to natural laws,
but to her own immediate weighing the opposed causes in her own hands.
In one scale is an executioner beheading a criminal; in the other an
angel crowning a man who seems (in Selvatico's plate) to have been
working at a desk or table.

Beneath her feet is a small predella, representing various persons
riding securely in the woods, and others dancing to the sound of music.

Spenser's Justice, Sir Artegall, is the hero of an entire book, and the
betrothed knight of Britomart, or chastity.

SECTION LXIII. _Seventh side_. Prudence. A man with a book and a
pair of compasses, wearing the noble cap, hanging down towards the
shoulder, and bound in a fillet round the brow, which occurs so
frequently during the fourteenth century in Italy in the portraits of
men occupied in any civil capacity.

This virtue is, as we have seen, conceived under very different degrees
of dignity, from mere worldly prudence up to heavenly wisdom, being
opposed sometimes by Stultitia, sometimes by Ignorantia. I do not find,
in any of the representations of her, that her truly distinctive
character, namely, _forethought_, is enough insisted upon: Giotto
expresses her vigilance and just measurement or estimate of all things
by painting her as Janus-headed, and gazing into a convex mirror, with
compasses in her right hand; the convex mirror showing her power of
looking at many things in small compass. But forethought or
anticipation, by which, independently of greater or less natural
capacities, one man becomes more _prudent_ than another, is never
enough considered or symbolized.

The idea of this virtue oscillates, in the Greek systems, between
Temperance and Heavenly Wisdom.

SECTION LXIV. _Eighth side_. Hope. A figure full of devotional
expression, holding up its hands as in prayer, and looking to a hand
which is extended towards it out of sunbeams. In the Renaissance copy
this hand does not appear.

Of all the virtues, this is the most distinctively Christian (it could
not, of course, enter definitely into any Pagan scheme); and above all
others, it seems to me the _testing_ virtue,--that by the possession of
which we may most certainly determine whether we are Christians or not;
for many men have charity, that is to say, general kindness of heart, or
even a kind of faith, who have not any habitual _hope_ of, or longing
for, heaven. The Hope of Giotto is represented as winged, rising in the
air, while an angel holds a crown before her. I do not know if Spenser
was the first to introduce our marine virtue, leaning on an anchor, a
symbol as inaccurate as it is vulgar: for, in the first place, anchors
are not for men, but for ships; and in the second, anchorage is the
characteristic not of Hope, but of Faith. Faith is dependent, but Hope is
aspirant. Spenser, however, introduces Hope twice,--the first time as the
Virtue with the anchor; but afterwards fallacious Hope, far more
beautifully, in the Masque of Cupid:

  "She always smyld, and in her hand did hold
   An holy-water sprinckle, dipt in deowe."

SECTION LXV. TENTH CAPITAL. _First side_. Luxury (the opposite of
chastity, as above explained). A woman with a jewelled chain across her
forehead, smiling as she looks into a mirror, exposing her breast by
drawing down her dress with one hand. Inscribed "LUXURIA SUM IMENSA."

These subordinate forms of vice are not met with so frequently in art as
those of the opposite virtues, but in Spenser we find them all. His
Luxury rides upon a goat:

  "In a greene gowne he clothed was full faire,
   Which underneath did hide his filthinesse,
   And in his hand a burning heart he bare."

But, in fact, the proper and comprehensive expression of this vice is
the Cupid of the ancients; and there is not any minor circumstance more
indicative of the _intense_ difference between the mediaeval and
the Renaissance spirit, than the mode in which this god is represented.

I have above said, that all great European art is rooted in the
thirteenth century; and it seems to me that there is a kind of central
year about which we may consider the energy of the middle ages to be
gathered; a kind of focus of time which, by what is to my mind a most
touching and impressive Divine appointment, has been marked for us by
the greatest writer of the middle ages, in the first words he utters;
namely, the year 1300, the "mezzo del cammin" of the life of Dante. Now,
therefore, to Giotto, the contemporary of Dante, and who drew Dante's
still existing portrait in this very year, 1300, we may always look for
the central mediaeval idea in any subject: and observe how he represents
Cupid; as one of three, a terrible trinity, his companions being Satan
and Death; and he himself "a lean scarecrow, with bow, quiver, and
fillet, and feet ending in claws," [Footnote: Lord Lindsay, vol. ii.
letter iv.] thrust down into Hell by Penance, from the presence of
Purity and Fortitude. Spenser, who has been so often noticed as
furnishing the exactly intermediate type of conception between the
mediaeval and the Renaissance, indeed represents Cupid under the form of
a beautiful winged god, and riding on a lion, but still no plaything of
the Graces, but full of terror:

  "With that the darts which his right hand did straine
   Full dreadfully he shooke, that all did quake,
   And clapt on hye his coloured winges twaine,
   That all his many it afraide did make."

His many, that is to say, his company; and observe what a company it is.
Before him go Fancy, Desire, Doubt, Danger, Fear, Fallacious Hope,
Dissemblance, Suspicion, Grief, Fury, Displeasure, Despite, and Cruelty.
After him, Reproach, Repentance, Shame,

  "Unquiet Care, and fond Unthriftyhead,
   Lewd Losse of Time, and Sorrow seeming dead,
   Inconstant Chaunge, and false Disloyalty,
   Consuming Riotise, and guilty Dread
   Of heavenly vengeaunce; faint Infirmity,
   Vile Poverty, and lastly Death with infamy."

Compare these two pictures of Cupid with the Love-god of the
Renaissance, as he is represented to this day, confused with angels, in
every faded form of ornament and allegory, in our furniture, our
literature, and our minds.

SECTION LXVI. _Second side_. Gluttony. A woman in a turban, with a
jewelled cup in her right hand. In her left, the clawed limb of a bird,
which she is gnawing. Inscribed "GULA SINE ORDINE SUM."

Spenser's Gluttony is more than usually fine:

  "His belly was upblownt with luxury,
   And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne,
   And like a crane his necke was long and fyne,
   Wherewith he swallowed up excessive feast,
   For want whereof poore people oft did pyne."

He rides upon a swine, and is clad in vine-leaves, with a garland of
ivy. Compare the account of Excesse, above, as opposed to Temperance.

SECTION LXVII. _Third side_. Pride. A knight, with a heavy and
stupid face, holding a sword with three edges: his armor covered with
ornaments in the form of roses, and with two ears attached to his
helmet. The inscription indecipherable, all but "SUPERBIA."

Spenser has analyzed this vice with great care. He first represents it
as the Pride of life; that is to say, the pride which runs in a deep
under-current through all the thoughts and acts of men. As such, it is a
feminine vice, directly opposed to Holiness, and mistress of a castle
called the House of Pryde, and her chariot is driven by Satan, with a
team of beasts, ridden by the mortal sins. In the throne chamber of her
palace she is thus described:

  "So proud she shyned in her princely state,
   Looking to Heaven, for Earth she did disdayne;
   And sitting high, for lowly she did hate:
   Lo, underneath her scornefull feete was layne
   A dreadfull dragon with an hideous trayne;
   And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
   Wherein her face she often vewed fayne."

The giant Orgoglio is a baser species of pride, born of the Earth and
Eolus; that is to say, of sensual and vain conceits. His foster-father
and the keeper of his castle is Ignorance. (Book I. canto viii.)

Finally, Disdain is introduced, in other places, as the form of pride
which vents itself in insult to others.

SECTION LXVIII. _Fourth side_. Anger. A woman tearing her dress open at
her breast. Inscription here undecipherable; but in the Renaissance Copy

Giotto represents this vice under the same symbol; but it is the weakest
of all the figures in the Arena Chapel. The "Wrath" of Spenser rides
upon a lion, brandishing a firebrand, his garments stained with blood.
Rage, or Furor, occurs subordinately in other places. It appears to me
very strange that neither Giotto nor Spenser should have given any
representation of the _restrained_ Anger, which is infinitely the
most terrible; both of them make him violent.

SECTION LXIX. _Fifth side_. Avarice. An old woman with a veil over
her forehead, and a bag of money in each hand. A figure very marvellous
for power of expression. The throat is all made up of sinews with skinny
channels deep between them, strained as by anxiety, and wasted by
famine; the features hunger-bitten, the eyes hollow, the look glaring
and intense, yet without the slightest caricature. Inscribed in the
Renaissance copy, "AVARITIA IMPLETOR."

Spenser's Avarice (the vice) is much feebler than this; but the god
Mammon and his kingdom have been described by him with his usual power.
Note the position of the house of Richesse:

  "Betwixt them both was but a little stride,
  That did the House of Richesse from Hell-mouth divide."

It is curious that most moralists confuse avarice with covetousness,
although they are vices totally different in their operation on the
human heart, and on the frame of society. The love of money, the sin of
Judas and Ananias, is indeed the root of all evil in the hardening of
the heart; but "covetousness, which is idolatry," the sin of Ahab, that
is, the inordinate desire of some seen or recognized good,--thus
destroying peace of mind,--is probably productive of much more misery in
heart, and error in conduct, than avarice itself, only covetousness is
not so inconsistent with Christianity: for covetousness may partly
proceed from vividness of the affections and hopes, as in David, and be
consistent with much charity; not so avarice.

SECTION LXX. _Sixth side_. Idleness. Accidia. A figure much broken
away, having had its arms round two branches of trees.

I do not know why Idleness should be represented as among trees, unless,
in the Italy of the fourteenth century, forest country was considered as
desert, and therefore the domain of Idleness. Spenser fastens this vice
especially upon the clergy,--

  "Upon a slouthfull asse he chose to ryde,
  Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,
  Like to an holy monck, the service to begin.
  And in his hand his portesse still he bare,
  That much was worne, but therein little redd."

And he properly makes him the leader of the train of the vices:

  "May seem the wayne was very evil ledd,
  When such an one had guiding of the way."

Observe that subtle touch of truth in the "wearing" of the portesse,
indicating the abuse of books by idle readers, so thoroughly
characteristic of unwilling studentship from the schoolboy upwards.

SECTION LXXI. _Seventh side_. Vanity. She is smiling complacently
as she looks into a mirror in her lap. Her robe is embroidered with
roses, and roses form her crown. Undecipherable.

There is some confusion in the expression of this vice, between pride in
the personal appearance and lightness of purpose. The word Vanitas
generally, I think, bears, in the mediaeval period, the sense given it
in Scripture. "Let not him that is deceived trust in Vanity, for Vanity
shall be his recompense." "Vanity of Vanities." "The Lord knoweth the
thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." It is difficult to find this
sin,--which, after Pride, is the most universal, perhaps the most fatal,
of all, fretting the whole depth of our humanity into storm "to waft a
feather or to drown a fly,"--definitely expressed in art. Even Spenser,
I think, has only partially expressed it under the figure of Phaedria,
more properly Idle Mirth, in the second book. The idea is, however,
entirely worked out in the Vanity Fair of the "Pilgrim's Progress."

SECTION LXXII. _Eighth side_. Envy. One of the noblest pieces of
expression in the series. She is pointing malignantly with her finger; a
serpent is wreathed about her head like a cap, another forms the girdle
of her waist, and a dragon rests in her lap.

Giotto has, however, represented her, with still greater subtlety, as
having her fingers terminating in claws, and raising her right hand with
an expression partly of impotent regret, partly of involuntary grasping;
a serpent, issuing from her mouth, is about to bite her between the
eyes; she has long membranous ears, horns on her head, and flames
consuming her body. The Envy of Spenser is only inferior to that of
Giotto, because the idea of folly and quickness of hearing is not
suggested by the size of the ear: in other respects it is even finer,
joining the idea of fury, in the wolf on which he rides, with that of
corruption on his lips, and of discoloration or distortion in the whole

                      "Malicious Envy rode
  Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw
  Between his cankred teeth avenemous tode
  That all the poison ran about his jaw.
  _And in a kirtle of discolourd say
  He clothed was, ypaynted full of eies_,
  And in his bosome secretly there lay
  An hatefull snake, the which his taile uptyes
  In many folds, and mortali sting implyes."

He has developed the idea in more detail, and still more loathsomely, in
the twelfth canto of the fifth book.

SECTION LXXIII. ELEVENTH CAPITAL. Its decoration is composed of eight
birds, arranged as shown in Plate V. of the "Seven Lamps," which,
however, was sketched from the Renaissance copy. These birds are all
varied in form and action, but not so as to require special description.

SECTION LXXIV. TWELFTH CAPITAL. This has been very interesting, but is
grievously defaced, four of its figures being entirely broken away, and
the character of two others quite undecipherable. It is fortunate that
it has been copied in the thirty-third capital of the Renaissance
series, from which we are able to identify the lost figures.

_First side_. Misery. A man with a wan face, seemingly pleading with a
child who has its hands crossed on its breast. There is a buckle at his
own breast in the shape of a cloven heart. Inscribed "MISERIA."

The intention of this figure is not altogether apparent, as it is by no
means treated as a vice; the distress seeming real, and like that of a
parent in poverty mourning over his child. Yet it seems placed here as
in direct opposition to the virtue of Cheerfulness, which follows next
in order; rather, however, I believe, with the intention of illustrating
human life, than the character of the vice which, as we have seen, Dante
placed in the circle of hell. The word in that case would, I think, have
been "Tristitia," the "unholy Griefe" of Spenser--

         "All in sable sorrowfully clad,
  Downe hanging his dull head with heavy chere:

       *       *       *       *       *

  A pair of pincers in his hand he had,
  With which he pinched people to the heart."

He has farther amplified the idea under another figure in the fifth
canto of the fourth book:

  "His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade,
   That neither day nor night from working spared;
   But to small purpose yron wedges made:
   Those be unquiet thoughts that carefull minds invade.

   Rude was his garment, and to rags all rent,
   Ne better had he, ne for better cared;
   With blistered hands among the cinders brent."

It is to be noticed, however, that in the Renaissance copy this figure
is stated to be, not Miseria, but "Misericordia." The contraction is a
very moderate one, Misericordia being in old MS. written always as
"Mia." If this reading be right, the figure is placed here rather as the
companion, than the opposite, of Cheerfulness; unless, indeed, it is
intended to unite the idea of Mercy and Compassion with that of Sacred

SECTION LXXV. _Second side_. Cheerfulness. A woman with long flowing
hair, crowned with roses, playing on a tambourine, and with open lips, as
singing. Inscribed "ALACRITAS."

We have already met with this virtue among those especially set by
Spenser to attend on Womanhood. It is inscribed in the Renaissance Copy,
"ALACHRITAS CHANIT MECUM." Note the gutturals of the rich and fully
developed Venetian dialect now affecting the Latin, which is free from
them in the earlier capitals.

SECTION LXXVI. _Third side_. Destroyed; but, from the copy, we find
it has been Stultitia, Folly; and it is there represented simply as a
man _riding_, a sculpture worth the consideration of the English
residents who bring their horses to Venice. Giotto gives Stultitia a
feather, cap, and club. In early manuscripts he is always eating with
one hand, and striking with the other; in later ones he has a cap and
bells, or cap crested with a cock's head, whence the word "coxcomb."

SECTION LXXVII. _Fourth side_. Destroyed, all but a book, which
identifies it with the "Celestial Chastity" of the Renaissance copy;
there represented as a woman pointing to a book (connecting the convent
life with the pursuit of literature?).

Spenser's Chastity, Britomart, is the most exquisitely wrought of all
his characters; but, as before noticed, she is not the Chastity of the
convent, but of wedded life.

SECTION LXXVIII. _Fifth side_. Only a scroll is left; but, from the
copy, we find it has been Honesty or Truth. Inscribed "HONESTATEM
DILIGO." It is very curious, that among all the Christian systems of the
virtues which we have examined, we should find this one in Venice only.

The Truth of Spenser, Una, is, after Chastity, the most exquisite
character in the "Faerie Queen."

SECTION LXXIX. _Sixth side_. Falsehood. An old woman leaning on a
crutch; and inscribed in the copy, "FALSITAS IN ME SEMPER EST." The
Fidessa of Spenser, the great enemy of Una, or Truth, is far more subtly
conceived, probably not without special reference to the Papal deceits.
In her true form she is a loathsome hag, but in her outward aspect,

  "A goodly lady, clad in scarlet red,
   Purfled with gold and pearle;...
   Her wanton palfrey all was overspred.
   With tinsell trappings, woven like a wave,
   Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave."

Dante's Fraud, Geryon, is the finest personification of all, but the
description (Inferno, canto XVII.) is too long to be quoted.

SECTION LXXX. _Seventh side_. Injustice. An armed figure holding a
halbert; so also in the copy. The figure used by Giotto with the
particular intention of representing unjust government, is represented
at the gate of an embattled castle in a forest, between rocks, while
various deeds of violence are committed at his feet. Spenser's "Adicia"
is a furious hag, at last transformed into a tiger.

_Eighth side_. A man with a dagger looking sorrowfully at a child,
who turns its back to him. I cannot understand this figure. It is
inscribed in the copy, "ASTINECIA (Abstinentia?) OPITIMA?"

SECTION LXXXI. THIRTEENTH CAPITAL. It has lions' heads all round,
coarsely cut.

FOURTEENTH CAPITAL. It has various animals, each sitting on its
haunches. Three dogs, One a greyhound, one long-haired, one short-haired
with bells about its neck; two monkeys, one with fan-shaped hair
projecting on each side of its face; a noble boar, with its tusks,
hoofs, and bristles sharply cut; and a lion and lioness.

SECTION LXXXII. FIFTEENTH CAPITAL. The pillar to which it belongs is
thicker than the rest, as well as the one over it in the upper arcade.

The sculpture of this capital is also much coarser, and seems to me
later than that of the rest; and it has no inscription, which is
embarrassing, as its subjects have had much meaning; but I believe
Selvatico is right in supposing it to have been intended for a general
illustration of Idleness.

_First side_. A woman with a distaff; her girdle richly decorated,
and fastened by a buckle.

_Second side_. A youth in a long mantle, with a rose in his hand.

_Third side_. A woman in a turban stroking a puppy, which she holds
by the haunches.

_Fourth side_. A man with a parrot.

_Fifth side_. A woman in very rich costume, with braided hair, and
dress thrown into minute folds, holding a rosary (?) in her left hand,
her right on her breast.

_Sixth side_. A man with a very thoughtful face, laying his hand
upon the leaves of the capital.

_Seventh side_. A crowned lady, with a rose in her hand.

_Eighth side_. A boy with a ball in his left hand, and his right
laid on his breast.

SECTION LXXXIII. SIXTEENTH CAPITAL. It is decorated with eight large
heads, partly intended to be grotesque, [Footnote: Selvatico states that
these are intended to be representative of eight nations, Latins,
Tartars, Turks, Hungarians, Greeks, Goths, Egyptians, and Persians.
Either the inscriptions are now defaced or I have carelessly omitted to
note them.] and very coarse and bad, except only that in the sixth
side, which is totally different from all the rest, and looks like a
portrait. It is thin, thoughtful, and dignified; thoroughly fine in
every way. It wears a cap surmounted by two winged lions; and,
therefore, I think Selvatico must have inaccurately written the list
given in the note, for this head is certainly meant to express the
superiority of the Venetian character over that of other nations.
Nothing is more remarkable in all early sculpture, than its appreciation
of the signs of dignity of character in the features, and the way in
which it can exalt the principal figure in any subject by a few touches.

SECTION LXXXIV. SEVENTEENTH CAPITAL. This has been so destroyed by the
sea wind, which sweeps at this point of the arcade round the angle of
the palace, that its inscriptions are no longer legible, and great part
of its figures are gone. Selvatico states them as follows: Solomon, the
wise; Priscian, the grammarian; Aristotle, the logician; Tully, the
orator; Pythagoras, the philosopher; Archimedes, the mechanic; Orpheus,
the musician; Ptolemy, the astronomer. The fragments actually remaining
are the following:

_First side_. A figure with two books, in a robe richly decorated
with circles of roses. Inscribed "SALOMON (SAP) IENS."

_Second side_. A man with one book, poring over it: he has had a
long stick or reed in his hand. Of inscription only the letters
"GRAMMATIC" remain.

_Third side_. "ARISTOTLE:" so inscribed. He has a peaked double
beard and a flat cap, from under which his long hair falls down his

_Fourth side_. Destroyed.

_Fifth side_. Destroyed, all but a board with, three (counters?) on

_Sixth side_. A figure with compasses. Inscribed "GEOMET * *"

_Seventh side_. Nothing is left but a guitar with its handle
wrought into a lion's head.

_Eighth side_. Destroyed.

SECTION LXXXV. We have now arrived at the EIGHTEENTH CAPITAL, the most
interesting and beautiful of the palace. It represents the planets, and
the sun and moon, in those divisions of the zodiac known to astrologers
as their "houses;" and perhaps indicates, by the position in which they
are placed, the period of the year at which this great corner-stone was
laid. The inscriptions above have been in quaint Latin rhyme, but are
now decipherable only in fragments, and that with the more difficulty
because the rusty iron bar that binds the abacus has broken away, in its
expansion, nearly all the upper portions of the stone, and with them the
signs of contraction, which are of great importance. I shall give the
fragments of them that I could decipher; first as the letters actually
stand (putting those of which I am doubtful in brackets, with a note of
interrogation), and then as I would read them.

SECTION LXXXVI. It should be premised that, in modern astrology, the
houses of the planets are thus arranged:

The house of the Sun,      is Leo.
      "          Moon,     "  Cancer.
      "          Mars,     "  Aries and Scorpio.
      "          Venus,    "  Taurus and Libra.
      "          Mercury,  "  Gemini and Virgo.
      "          Jupiter,  "  Sagittarius and Pisces.
      "          Saturn,   "  Capricorn.
      "          Herschel, "  Aquarius.

The Herschel planet being of course unknown to the old astrologers, we
have only the other six planetary powers, together with the sun; and
Aquarius is assigned to Saturn as his house. I could not find Capricorn
at all; but this sign may have been broken away, as the whole capital is
grievously defaced. The eighth side of the capital, which the Herschel
planet would now have occupied, bears a sculpture of the Creation of
Man: it is the most conspicuous side, the one set diagonally across the
angle; or the eighth in our usual mode of reading the capitals, from
which I shall not depart.

SECTION LXXXVII. _The first side_, then, or that towards the Sea,
has Aquarius, as the house of Saturn, represented as a seated figure
beautifully draped, pouring a stream of water out of an amphora over the
leaves of the capital. His inscription is:


SECTION LXXXVIII. _Second side_. Jupiter, in his houses Sagittarius
and Pisces, represented throned, with an upper dress disposed in
radiating folds about his neck, and hanging down upon his breast,
ornamented by small pendent trefoiled studs or bosses. He wears the
drooping bonnet and long gloves; but the folds about the neck, shot
forth to express the rays of the star, are the most remarkable
characteristic of the figure. He raises his sceptre in his left hand
over Sagittarius, represented as the centaur Chiron; and holds two
thunnies in his right. Something rough, like a third fish, has been
broken away below them; the more easily because this part of the group
is entirely undercut, and the two fish glitter in the light, relieved on
the deep gloom below the leaves. The inscription is:

[Footnote: The comma in these inscriptions stands for a small cuneiform
mark, I believe of contraction, and the small for a zigzag mark of the
same kind. The dots or periods are similarly marked on the stone.]

  "Inde Jovis dona
   Pisces simul atque Chirona."

Domus is, I suppose, to be understood before Jovis: "Then the house of
Jupiter gives (or governs?) the fishes and Chiron."

SECTION LXXXIX. _Third side_. Mars, in his houses Aries and Scorpio.
Represented as a very ugly knight in chain mail, seated sideways on the
ram, whose horns are broken away, and having a large scorpion in his left
hand, whose tail is broken also, to the infinite injury of the group, for
it seems to have curled across to the angle leaf, and formed a bright
line of light, like the fish in the hand of Jupiter. The knight carries a
shield, on which fire and water are sculptured, and bears a banner upon
his lance, with the word "DEFEROSUM," which puzzled me for some time. It
should be read, I believe, "De ferro sum;" which would be good _Venetian_
Latin for "I am of iron."

SECTION XC. _Fourth side_. The Sun, in his house Leo. Represented
under the figure of Apollo, sitting on the Lion, with rays shooting from
his head, and the world in his hand. The inscription:


I believe the first phrase is, "Tune est Domus solis;" but there is a
letter gone after the "quo," and I have no idea what case of signum
"signe" stands for.

SECTION XCI. _Fifth side_. Venus, in her houses Taurus and Libra.
The most beautiful figure of the series. She sits upon the bull, who is
deep in the dewlap, and better cut than most of the animals, holding a
mirror in her right hand, and the scales in her left. Her breast is very
nobly and tenderly indicated under the folds of her drapery, which is
exquisitely studied in its fall. What is left of the inscription, runs:


SECTION XCII. _Sixth side_. Mercury, represented as wearing a pendent
cap, and holding a book: he is supported by three children in reclining
attitudes, representing his houses Gemini and Virgo. But I cannot
understand the inscription, though more than usually legible.


SECTION XCIII. _Seventh side_. The Moon, in her house Cancer. This
sculpture, which is turned towards the Piazzetta, is the most
picturesque of the series. The moon is represented as a woman in a boat,
upon the sea, who raises the crescent in her right hand, and with her
left draws a crab out of the waves, up the boat's side. The moon was, I
believe, represented in Egyptian sculptures as in a boat; but I rather
think the Venetian was not aware of this, and that he meant to express
the peculiar sweetness of the moonlight at Venice, as seen across the
lagoons. Whether this was intended by putting the planet in the boat,
may be questionable, but assuredly the idea was meant to be conveyed by
the dress of the figure. For all the draperies of the other figures on
this capital, as well as on the rest of the facade, are disposed in
severe but full folds, showing little of the forms beneath them; but the
moon's drapery _ripples_ down to her feet, so as exactly to suggest
the trembling of the moonlight on the waves. This beautiful idea is
highly characteristic of the thoughtfulness of the early sculptors: five
hundred men may be now found who could have cut the drapery, as such,
far better, for one who would have disposed its folds with this
intention. The inscription is:


SECTION XCIV. _Eighth side_. God creating Man. Represented as a
throned figure, with a glory round the head, laying his left hand on the
head of a naked youth, and sustaining him with his right hand. The
inscription puzzled me for a long time; but except the lost r and m of
"formavit," and a letter quite undefaced, but to me unintelligble,
before the word Eva, in the shape of a figure of 7, I have safely
ascertained the rest.



   "De limo Dominus Adam, de costa fo(rm) avit Evam;"
  From the dust the Lord made Adam, and from the rib Eve.

I imagine the whole of this capital, therefore--the principal one of the
old palace,--to have been intended to signify, first, the formation of
the planets for the service of man upon the earth; secondly, the entire
subjection of the fates and fortune of man to the will of God, as
determined from the time when the earth and stars were made, and, in
fact, written in the volume of the stars themselves.

Thus interpreted, the doctrines of judicial astrology were not only
consistent with, but an aid to, the most spiritual and humble

In the workmanship and grouping of its foliage, this capital is, on the
whole, the finest I know in Europe. The Sculptor has put his whole
strength into it. I trust that it will appear among the other Venetian
casts lately taken for the Crystal Palace; but if not, I have myself
cast all its figures, and two of its leaves, and I intend to give
drawings of them on a large scale in my folio work.

SECTION XCV. NINETEENTH CAPITAL. This is, of course, the second counting
from the Sea, on the Piazzetta side of the palace, calling that of the
Fig-tree angle the first.

It is the most important capital, as a piece of evidence in point of
dates, in the whole palace. Great pains have been taken with it, and in
some portion of the accompanying furniture or ornaments of each of its
figures a small piece of colored marble has been inlaid, with peculiar
significance: for the capital represents the _arts of sculpture and
architecture_; and the inlaying of the colored stones (which are far
too small to be effective at a distance, and are found in this one
capital only of the whole series) is merely an expression of the
architect's feeling of the essential importance of this art of inlaying,
and of the value of color generally in his own art.

SECTION XCVI. _First side_. "ST. SIMPLICIUS": so inscribed. A
figure working with a pointed chisel on a small oblong block of green
serpentine, about four inches long by one wide, inlaid in the capital.
The chisel is, of course, in the left hand, but the right is held up
open, with the palm outwards.

_Second side_. A crowned figure, carving the image of a child on a
small statue, with a ground of red marble. The sculptured figure is
highly finished, and is in type of head much like the Ham or Japheth at
the Vine angle. Inscription effaced.

_Third side_. An old man, uncrowned, but with curling hair, at work
on a small column, with its capital complete, and a little shaft of dark
red marble, spotted with paler red. The capital is precisely of the form
of that found in the palace of the Tiepolos and the other thirteenth
century work of Venice. This one figure would be quite enough, without
any other evidence whatever, to determine the date of this flank of the
Ducal Palace as not later, at all events, than the first half of the
fourteenth century. Its inscription is broken away, all but "DISIPULO."

_Fourth side_. A crowned figure; but the object on which it has
been working is broken away, and all the inscription except "ST.

_Fifth side_. A man with a turban, and a sharp chisel, at work on a
kind of panel or niche, the back of which is of red marble.

_Sixth side_. A crowned figure, with hammer and chisel, employed
_on a little range of windows of the fifth order_, having roses
set, instead of orbicular ornaments, between the spandrils with a rich
cornice, and a band of marble inserted above. This sculpture assures us
of the date of the fifth order window, which it shows to have been
universal in the early fourteenth century.

There are also five arches in the block on which the sculptor is
working, marking the frequency of the number five in the window groups
of the time.

_Seventh side_. A figure at work on a pilaster, with Lombardic thirteenth
century capital (for account of the series of forms in Venetian capitals,
see the final Appendix of the next volume), the shaft of dark red spotted

_Eighth side_. A figure with a rich open crown, working on a
delicate recumbent statue, the head of which is laid on a pillow covered
with a rich chequer pattern; the whole supported on a block of dark red
marble. Inscription broken away, all but "ST. SYM. (Symmachus?) TV * *
ANVS." There appear, therefore, altogether to have been five saints, two
of them popes, if Simplicius is the pope of that name (three in front,
two on the fourth and sixth sides), alternating with the three uncrowned
workmen in the manual labor of sculpture. I did not, therefore, insult
our present architects in saying above that they "ought to work in the
mason's yard with their men." It would be difficult to find a more
interesting expression of the devotional spirit in which all great work
was undertaken at this time.

SECTION XCVII. TWENTIETH CAPITAL. It is adorned with heads of animals,
and is the finest of the whole series in the broad massiveness of its
effect; so simply characteristic, indeed, of the grandeur of style in
the entire building, that I chose it for the first Plate in my folio
work. In spite of the sternness of its plan, however, it is wrought with
great care in surface detail; and the ornamental value of the minute
chasing obtained by the delicate plumage of the birds, and the clustered
bees on the honeycomb in the bear's mouth, opposed to the strong
simplicity of its general form, cannot be too much admired. There are
also more grace, life, and variety in the sprays of foliage on each side
of it, and under the heads, than in any other capital of the series,
though the earliness of the workmanship is marked by considerable
hardness and coldness in the larger heads. A Northern Gothic workman,
better acquainted with bears and wolves than it was possible to become
in St. Mark's Place, would have put far more life into these heads, but
he could not have composed them more skilfully.

SECTION XCVIII. _First side_. A lion with a stag's haunch in his
mouth. Those readers who have the folio plate, should observe the
peculiar way in which the ear is cut into the shape of a ring, jagged or
furrowed on the edge; an archaic mode of treatment peculiar, in the
Ducal Palace, to the lion's heads of the fourteenth century. The moment
we reach the Renaissance work, the lion's ears are smooth. Inscribed
simply, "LEO."

_Second side_. A wolf with a dead bird in his mouth, its body
wonderfully true in expression of the passiveness of death. The feathers
are each wrought with a central quill and radiating filaments. Inscribed

_Third side_. A fox, not at all like one, with a dead cock in his mouth,
its comb and pendent neck admirably designed so as to fall across
the great angle leaf of the capital, its tail hanging down on the other
side, its long straight feathers exquisitely cut. Inscribed ("VULP?)IS."

_Fourth side_. Entirely broken away.

_Fifth side_. "APER." Well tusked, with a head of maize in his mouth; at
least I suppose it to be maize, though shaped like a pine-cone.

_Sixth side_. "CHANIS." With a bone, very ill cut; and a bald-headed
species of dog, with ugly flap ears.

_Seventh side_. "MUSCIPULUS." With a rat (?) in his mouth.

_Eighth side_. "URSUS." With a honeycomb, covered with large bees.

SECTION XCIX. TWENTY-FIRST CAPITAL. Represents the principal inferior

_First side_. An old man, with his brow deeply wrinkled, and very
expressive features, beating in a kind of mortar with a hammer.
Inscribed "LAPICIDA SUM."

_Second side_. I believe, a goldsmith; he is striking a small flat bowl
or patera, on a pointed anvil, with a light hammer. The inscription is

_Third side_. A shoemaker with a shoe in his hand, and an instrument for
cutting leather suspended beside him. Inscription undecipherable.

_Fourth side_. Much broken. A carpenter planing a beam resting on
two horizontal logs. Inscribed "CARPENTARIUS SUM."

_Fifth side_. A figure shovelling fruit into a tub; the latter very
carefully carved from what appears to have been an excellent piece of
cooperage. Two thin laths cross each other over the top of it. The
inscription, now lost, was, according to Selvatico, "MENSURATOR"?

_Sixth side_. A man, with a large hoe, breaking the ground, which
lies in irregular furrows and clods before him. Now undecipherable, but
according to Selvatico, "AGRICHOLA."

_Seventh side_. A man, in a pendent cap, writing on a large scroll
which falls over his knee. Inscribed "NOTARIUS SUM."

_Eighth side_. A man forging a sword, or scythe-blade: he wears a
large skull-cap; beats with a large hammer on a solid anvil; and is
inscribed "FABER SUM."

SECTION C. TWENTY-SECOND CAPITAL. The Ages of Man; and the influence of
the planets on human life.

_First side_. The moon, governing infancy for four years, according
to Selvatico. I have no note of this side, having, I suppose, been
prevented from raising the ladder against it by some fruit-stall or
other impediment in the regular course of my examination; and then
forgotten to return to it.

_Second side_. A child with a tablet, and an alphabet inscribed on
it. The legend above is


Or, "Mercurius dominatur puerilite per annos X." (Selvatico reads VII.)
"Mercury governs boyhood for ten (or seven) years."

_Third side_. An older youth, with another tablet, but broken.


Selvatico misses this side altogether, as I did the first, so that the
lost planet is irrecoverable, as the inscription is now defaced. Note
the o for e in adolescentia; so also we constantly find u for o;
showing, together with much other incontestable evidence of the same
kind, how full and deep the old pronunciation of Latin always remained,
and how ridiculous our English mincing of the vowels would have sounded
to a Roman ear.

_Fourth side_. A youth with a hawk on his fist.

The sue governs youth for nineteen years.

_Fifth side_. A man sitting, helmed, with a sword over his shoulder.

Mars governs manhood for fifteen years.

_Sixth side_. A very graceful and serene figure, in the pendent cap,

Jupiter governs age for twelve years.

_Seventh side_. An old man in a skull-cap, praying.

"DECREPITE DNT SATN UQ' ADMOTE." (Saturnus usque ad mortem.)
Saturn governs decrepitude until death.

_Eighth side_. The dead body lying on a mattress.

Last comes death, the penalty of sin.

SECTION CI. Shakespeare's Seven Ages are of course merely the expression
of this early and well-known system. He has deprived the dotage of its
devotion; but I think wisely, as the Italian system would imply that
devotion was, or should be, always delayed until dotage.

TWENTY-THIRD CAPITAL. I agree with Selvatico in thinking this has been
restored. It is decorated with large and vulgar heads.

SECTION CII. TWENTY-FOURTH CAPITAL. This belongs to the large shaft
which sustains the great party wall of the Sala del Gran Consiglio. The
shaft is thicker than the rest; but the capital, though ancient, is
coarse and somewhat inferior in design to the others of the series. It
represents the history of marriage: the lover first seeing his mistress
at a window, then addressing her, bringing her presents; then the
bridal, the birth and the death of a child. But I have not been able to
examine these sculptures properly, because the pillar is encumbered by
the railing which surrounds the two guns set before the Austrian

SECTION CIII. TWENTY-FIFTH CAPITAL. We have here the employments of the
months, with which we are already tolerably acquainted. There are,
however, one or two varieties worth noticing in this series.

_First side_. March. Sitting triumphantly in a rich dress, as the
beginning of the year.

_Second side_. April and May. April with a lamb: May with a feather
fan in her hand.

_Third side_. June. Carrying cherries in a basket.

I did not give this series with the others in the previous chapter,
because this representation of June is peculiarly Venetian. It is called
"the month of cherries," mese delle ceriese, in the popular rhyme on the
conspiracy of Tiepolo, quoted above, Vol. I.

The cherries principally grown near Venice are of a deep red color, and
large, but not of high flavor, though refreshing. They are carved upon
the pillar with great care, all their stalks undercut.

_Fourth side_. July and August. The first reaping; the leaves of the
straw being given, shooting out from the tubular stalk. August, opposite,
beats (the grain?) in a basket.

_Fifth side_. September. A woman standing in a wine-tub, and holding a
branch of vine. Very beautiful.

_Sixth side_. October and November. I could not make out their
occupation; they seem to be roasting or boiling some root over a fire.

_Seventh side_. December. Killing pigs, as usual.

_Eighth side_. January warming his feet, and February frying fish.
This last employment is again as characteristic of the Venetian winter
as the cherries are of the Venetian summer.

The inscriptions are undecipherable, except a few letters here and
there, and the words MARCIUS, APRILIS, and FEBRUARIUS.

This is the last of the capitals of the early palace; the next, or
twenty-sixth capital, is the first of those executed in the fifteenth
century under Foscari; and hence to the Judgment angle the traveller has
nothing to do but to compare the base copies of the earlier work with
their originals, or to observe the total want of invention in the
Renaissance sculptor, wherever he has depended on his own resources.
This, however, always with the exception of the twenty-seventh and of
the last capital, which are both fine.

I shall merely enumerate the subjects and point out the plagiarisms of
these capitals, as they are not worth description.

SECTION CIV. TWENTY-SIXTH CAPITAL. Copied from the fifteenth, merely
changing the succession of the figures.

TWENTY-SEVENTH CAPITAL. I think it possible that this may be part of the
old work displaced in joining the new palace with the old; at all
events, it is well designed, though a little coarse. It represents eight
different kinds of fruit, each in a basket; the characters well given,
and groups well arranged, but without much care or finish. The names are
inscribed above, though somewhat unnecessarily, and with certainly as
much disrespect to the beholder's intelligence as the sculptor's art,
Zerexis (cherries) and Zuche (gourds) both begin with the same letter,
whether meant for z, s, or c I am not sure. The Zuche are the common
gourds, divided into two protuberances, one larger than the other, like
a bottle compressed near the neck; and the Moloni are the long
water-melons, which, roasted, form a staple food of the Venetians to
this day.

SECTION CV. TWENTY-EIGHTH CAPITAL. Copied from the seventh.

TWENTY-NINTH CAPITAL. Copied from the ninth.

THIRTIETH CAPITAL. Copied from the tenth. The "Accidia" is noticeable as
having the inscription complete, "ACCIDIA ME STRINGIT;" and the
"Luxuria" for its utter want of expression, having a severe and calm
face, a robe up to the neck, and her hand upon her breast. The
inscription is also different: "LUXURIA SUM STERC'S (?) INFERI"(?).

THIRTY-FIRST CAPITAL. Copied from the eighth.

THIRTY-SECOND CAPITAL. Has no inscription, only fully robed figures
laying their hands, without any meaning, on their own shoulders, heads,
or chins, or on the leaves around them.

THIRTY-THIRD CAPITAL. Copied from the twelfth.

THIRTY-FOURTH CAPITAL. Copied from the eleventh.

THIRTY-FIFTH CAPITAL. Has children, with birds or fruit, pretty in
features, and utterly inexpressive, like the cherubs of the eighteenth

SECTION CVI. THIRTY-SIXTH CAPITAL. This is the last of the Piazzetta
facade, the elaborate one under the Judgment angle. Its foliage is
copied from the eighteenth at the opposite side, with an endeavor on the
part of the Renaissance sculptor to refine upon it, by which he has
merely lost some of its truth and force. This capital will, however, be
always thought, at first, the most beautiful of the whole series: and
indeed it is very noble; its groups of figures most carefully studied,
very graceful, and much more pleasing than those of the earlier work,
though with less real power in them; and its foliage is only inferior to
that of the magnificent Fig-tree angle. It represents, on its front or
first side, Justice enthroned, seated on two lions; and on the seven
other sides examples of acts of justice or good government, or figures
of lawgivers, in the following order:

_Second side_. Aristotle, with two pupils, giving laws. Inscribed:

Aristotle who declares laws.

_Third side_. I have mislaid my note of this side: Selvatico and Lazari
call it "Isidore" (?). [Footnote: Can they have mistaken the ISIPIONE of
the fifth side for the word Isidore?]

_Fourth side_. Solon with his pupils. Inscribed:

Solon, one of the seven sages of Greece, who declares

Note, by the by, the pure Venetian dialect used in this capital, instead
of the Latin in the more ancient ones. One of the seated pupils in this
sculpture is remarkably beautiful in the sweep of his flowing drapery.

_Fifth side_. The chastity of Scipio. Inscribed:

"ISIPIONE A CHASTITA CH * * * E LA FIA (e la figlia?) * * ARE."

A soldier in a plumed bonnet presents a kneeling maiden to the seated
Scipio, who turns thoughtfully away.

_Sixth side_. Numa Pompilius building churches.


Numa, in a kind of hat with a crown above it, directing a soldier in
Roman armor (note this, as contrasted with the mail of the earlier
capitals). They point to a tower of three stories filled with tracery.

_Seventh side_. Moses receiving the law. Inscribed:


Moses kneels on a rock, whence springs a beautifully fancied tree, with
clusters of three berries in the centre of the three leaves, sharp and
quaint, like fine Northern Gothic. The half figure of the Deity comes
out of the abacus, the arm meeting that of Moses, both at full stretch,
with the stone tablets between.

_Eighth side_. Trajan doing justice to the Widow.


He is riding spiritedly, his mantle blown out behind; the widow kneeling
before his horse.

SECTION CVII. The reader will observe that this capital is of peculiar
interest in its relation to the much disputed question of the character
of the later government of Venice. It is the assertion by that
government of its belief that Justice only could be the foundation of
its stability; as these stones of Justice and Judgment are the
foundation of its halls of council. And this profession of their faith
may be interpreted in two ways. Most modern historians would call it, in
common with the continual reference to the principles of justice in the
political and judicial language of the period, [Footnote: Compare the
speech of the Doge Mocenigo, above,--"first justice, and _then_ the
interests of the state:" and see Vol. III. Chap. II Section LIX.]
nothing more than a cloak for consummate violence and guilt; and it may
easily be proved to have been so in myriads of instances. But in the
main, I believe the expression of feeling to be genuine. I do not
believe, of the majority of the leading Venetians of this period whose
portraits have come down to us, that they were deliberately and
everlastingly hypocrites. I see no hypocrisy in their countenances. Much
capacity of it, much subtlety, much natural and acquired reserve; but no
meanness. On the contrary, infinite grandeur, repose, courage, and the
peculiar unity and tranquillity of expression which come of sincerity or
_wholeness_ of heart, and which it would take much demonstration to
make me believe could by any possibility be seen on the countenance of
an insincere man. I trust, therefore, that these Venetian nobles of the
fifteenth century did, in the main, desire to do judgment and justice to
all men; but, as the whole system of morality had been by this time
undermined by the teaching of the Romish Church, the idea of justice had
become separated from that of truth, so that dissimulation in the
interest of the state assumed the aspect of duty. We had, perhaps,
better consider, with some carefulness, the mode in which our own
government is carried on, and the occasional difference between
parliamentary and private morality, before we judge mercilessly of the
Venetians in this respect. The secrecy with which their political and
criminal trials were conducted, appears to modern eyes like a confession
of sinister intentions; but may it not also be considered, and with more
probability, as the result of an endeavor to do justice in an age of
violence?--the only means by which Law could establish its footing in
the midst of feudalism. Might not Irish juries at this day justifiably
desire to conduct their proceedings with some greater approximation to
the judicial principles of the Council of Ten? Finally, if we examine,
with critical accuracy, the evidence on which our present impressions of
Venetian government are founded, we shall discover, in the first place,
that two-thirds of the traditions of its cruelties are romantic fables:
in the second, that the crimes of which it can be proved to have been
guilty, differ only from those committed by the other Italian powers in
being done less wantonly, and under profounder conviction of their
political expediency: and lastly, that the final degradation of the
Venetian power appears owing not so much to the principles of its
government, as to their being forgotten in the pursuit of pleasure.

SECTION CVIII. We have now examined the portions of the palace which
contain the principal evidence of the feeling of its builders. The
capitals of the, upper arcade are exceedingly various in their
character; their design is formed, as in the lower series, of eight
leaves, thrown into volutes at the angles, and sustaining figures at the
flanks; but these figures have no inscriptions, and though evidently not
without meaning, cannot be interpreted without more knowledge than I
possess of ancient symbolism. Many of the capitals toward the Sea appear
to have been restored, and to be rude copies of the ancient ones;
others, though apparently original, have been somewhat carelessly
wrought; but those of them, which are both genuine and carefully
treated, are even finer in composition than any, except the eighteenth,
in the lower arcade. The traveller in Venice ought to ascend into the
corridor, and examine with great care the series of capitals which
extend on the Piazzetta side from the Fig-tree angle to the pilaster
which carries the party wall of the Sala del Gran Consiglio. As examples
of graceful composition in massy capitals meant for hard service and
distant effect, these are among the finest things I know in Gothic art;
and that above the fig-tree is remarkable for its sculpture of the four
winds; each on the side turned towards the wind represented. Levante,
the east wind; a figure with rays round its head, to show that it is
always clear weather when that wind blows, raising the sun out of the
sea: Hotro, the south wind; crowned, holding the sun in its right hand:
Ponente, the west wind; plunging the sun into the sea: and Tramontana,
the north wind; looking up at the north star. This capital should be
carefully examined, if for no other reason than to attach greater
distinctness of idea to the magnificent verbiage of Milton:

            "Thwart of these, as fierce,
  Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent winds,
  Eurus, and Zephyr; with their lateral noise,
  Sirocco and Libecchio."

I may also especially point out the bird feeding its three young ones on
the seventh pillar on the Piazzetta side; but there is no end to the
fantasy of these sculptures; and the traveller ought to observe them all
carefully, until he comes to the great Pilaster or complicated pier
which sustains the party wall of the Sala del Consiglio; that is to say,
the forty-seventh capital of the whole series, counting from the
pilaster of the Vine angle inclusive, as in the series of the lower
arcade. The forty-eighth, forty-ninth, and fiftieth are bad work, but
they are old; the fifty-first is the first Renaissance capital of the
upper arcade: the first new lion's head with smooth ears, cut in the
time of Foscari, is over the fiftieth capital; and that capital, with
its shaft, stands on the apex of the eighth arch from the Sea, on the
Piazzetta side, of which one spandril is masonry of the fourteenth and
the other of the fifteenth century.

SECTION CIX. The reader who is not able to examine the building on the
spot may be surprised at the definiteness with which the point of
junction is ascertainable; but a glance at the lowest range of leaves in
the opposite Plate (XX.) will enable him to judge of the grounds on
which the above statement is made. Fig. 12 is a cluster of leaves from
the capital of the Four Winds; early work of the finest time. Fig. 13 is
a leaf from the great Renaissance capital at the Judgment angle, worked
in imitation of the older leafage. Fig. 14 is a leaf from one of the
Renaissance capitals of the upper arcade, which are all worked in the
natural manner of the period. It will be seen that it requires no great
ingenuity to distinguish between such design as that of fig. 12 and that
of fig. 14.

SECTION CX. It is very possible that the reader may at first like fig.
14 best. I shall endeavor, in the next chapter, to show why he should
not; but it must also be noted, that fig. 12 has lost, and fig. 14
gained, both largely, under the hands of the engraver. All the bluntness
and coarseness of feeling in the workmanship of fig. 14 have disappeared
on this small scale, and all the subtle refinements in the broad masses
of fig. 12 have vanished. They could not, indeed, be rendered in line
engraving, unless by the hand of Albert Durer; and I have, therefore,
abandoned, for the present, all endeavor to represent any more important
mass of the early sculpture of the Ducal Palace: but I trust that, in a
few months, casts of many portions will be within the reach of the
inhabitants of London, and that they will be able to judge for
themselves of their perfect, pure, unlabored naturalism; the freshness,
elasticity, and softness of their leafage, united with the most noble
symmetry and severe reserve,--no running to waste, no loose or
experimental lines, no extravagance, and no weakness. Their design is
always sternly architectural; there is none of the wildness or
redundance of natural vegetation, but there is all the strength,
freedom, and tossing flow of the breathing leaves, and all the
undulation of their surfaces, rippled, as they grew, by the summer
winds, as the sands are by the sea.

SECTION CXI. This early sculpture of the Ducal Palace, then, represents
the state of Gothic work in Venice at its central and proudest period,
i. e. circa 1350. After this time, all is decline,--of what nature and
by what steps, we shall inquire in the ensuing chapter; for as this
investigation, though still referring to Gothic architecture, introduces
us to the first symptoms of the Renaissance influence, I have considered
it as properly belonging to the third division of our subject.

SECTION CXII. And as, under the shadow of these nodding leaves, we bid
farewell to the great Gothic spirit, here also we may cease our
examination of the details of the Ducal Palace; for above its upper
arcade there are only the four traceried windows, and one or two of the
third order on the Rio Facade, which can be depended upon as exhibiting
the original workmanship of the older palace. [Footnote: Some further
details respecting these portions, as well as some necessary
confirmations of my statements of dates, are, however, given in Appendix
I., Vol. III. I feared wearying the general reader by introducing them
into the text.] I examined the capitals of the four other windows on the
facade, and of those on the Piazzetta, one by one, with great care, and
I found them all to be of far inferior workmanship to those which retain
their traceries: I believe the stone framework of these windows must
have been so cracked and injured by the flames of the great fire, as to
render it necessary to replace it by new traceries; and that the present
mouldings and capitals are base imitations of the original ones. The
traceries were at first, however, restored in their complete form, as
the holes for the bolts which fastened the bases of their shafts are
still to be seen in the window-sills, as well as the marks of the inner
mouldings on the soffits. How much the stone facing of the facade, the
parapets, and the shafts and niches of the angles, retain of their
original masonry, it is also impossible to determine; but there is
nothing in the workmanship of any of them demanding especial notice;
still less in the large central windows on each facade which are
entirely of Renaissance execution. All that is admirable in these
portions of the building is the disposition of their various parts and
masses, which is without doubt the same as in the original fabric, and
calculated, when seen from a distance, to produce the same impression.

SECTION CXIII. Not so in the interior. All vestige of the earlier modes
of decoration was here, of course, destroyed by the fires; and the
severe and religious work of Guariento and Bellini has been replaced by
the wildness of Tintoret and the luxury of Veronese. But in this case,
though widely different in temper, the art of the renewal was at least
intellectually as great as that which had perished: and though the halls
of the Ducal Palace are no more representative of the character of the
men by whom it was built, each of them is still a colossal casket of
priceless treasure; a treasure whose safety has till now depended on its
being despised, and which at this moment, and as I write, is piece by
piece being destroyed for ever.

SECTION CXIV. The reader will forgive my quitting our more immediate
subject, in order briefly to explain the causes and the nature of this
destruction; for the matter is simply the most important of all that can
be brought under our present consideration respecting the state of art
in Europe.

The fact is, that the greater number of persons or societies throughout
Europe, whom wealth, or chance, or inheritance has put in possession of
valuable pictures, do not know a good picture from a bad one, and have
no idea in what the value of a picture really consists. [Footnote: Many
persons, capable of quickly sympathizing with any excellence, when once
pointed out to them, easily deceive themselves into the supposition that
they are judges of art. There is only one real test of such power of
judgment. Can they, at a glance, discover a good picture obscured by the
filth, and confused among the rubbish, of the pawnbroker's or dealer's
garret?] The reputation of certain work is raised partly by accident,
partly by the just testimony of artists, partly by the various and
generally bad taste of the public (no picture, that I know of, has ever,
in modern times, attained popularity, in the full sense of the term,
without having some exceedingly bad qualities mingled with its good
ones), and when this reputation has once been completely established, it
little matters to what state the picture may be reduced: few minds are
so completely devoid of imagination as to be unable to invest it with
the beauties which they have heard attributed to it.

SECTION CXV. This being so, the pictures that are most valued are for
the most part those by masters of established renown, which are highly
or neatly finished, and of a size small enough to admit of their being
placed in galleries or saloons, so as to be made subjects of
ostentation, and to be easily seen by a crowd. For the support of the
fame and value of such pictures, little more is necessary than that they
should be kept bright, partly by cleaning, which is incipient
destruction, and partly by what is called "restoring," that is, painting
over, which is of course total destruction. Nearly all the gallery
pictures in modern Europe have been more or less destroyed by one or
other of these operations, generally exactly in proportion to the
estimation in which they are held; and as, originally, the smaller and
more highly finished works of any great master are usually his worst,
the contents of many of our most celebrated galleries are by this time,
in reality, of very small value indeed.

SECTION CXVI. On the other hand, the most precious works of any noble
painter are usually those which have been done quickly, and in the heat
of the first thought, on a large scale, for places where there was
little likelihood of their being well seen, or for patrons from whom
there was little prospect of rich remuneration. In general, the best
things are done in this way, or else in the enthusiasm and pride of
accomplishing some great purpose, such as painting a cathedral or a
camposanto from one end to the other, especially when the time has been
short, and circumstances disadvantageous.

SECTION CXVII. Works thus executed are of course despised, on account of
their quantity, as well as their frequent slightness, in the places
where they exist; and they are too large to be portable, and too vast
and comprehensive to be read on the spot, in the hasty temper of the
present age. They are, therefore, almost universally neglected,
whitewashed by custodes, shot at by soldiers, suffered to drop from the
walls, piecemeal in powder and rags by society in general; but, which is
an advantage more than counterbalancing all this evil, they are not
often "restored." What is left of them, however fragmentary, however
ruinous, however obscured and defiled, is almost always _the real
thing_; there are no fresh readings: and therefore the greatest
treasures of art which Europe at this moment possesses are pieces of old
plaster on ruinous brick walls, where the lizards burrow and bask, and
which few other living creatures ever approach; and torn sheets of dim
canvas, in waste corners of churches; and mildewed stains, in the shape
of human figures, on the walls of dark chambers, which now and then an
exploring traveller causes to be unlocked by their tottering custode,
looks hastily round, and retreats from in a weary satisfaction at his
accomplished duty.

SECTION CXVIII. Many of the pictures on the ceilings and walls of the
Ducal Palace, by Paul Veronese and Tintoret, have been more or less
reduced, by neglect, to this condition. Unfortunately they are not
altogether without reputation, and their state has drawn the attention
of the Venetian authorities and academicians. It constantly happens,
that public bodies who will not pay five pounds to preserve a picture,
will pay fifty to repaint it; [Footnote: This is easily explained. There
are, of course, in every place and at all periods, bad painters who
conscientiously believe that they can improve every picture they touch;
and these men are generally, in their presumption, the most influential
over the innocence, whether of monarchs or municipalities. The carpenter
and slater have little influence in recommending the repairs of the
roof; but the bad painter has great influence, as well as interest, in
recommending those of the picture.] and when I was at Venice in 1846,
there were two remedial operations carrying on, at one and the same
time, in the two buildings which contain the pictures of greatest value
in the city (as pieces of color, of greatest value in the world),
curiously illustrative of this peculiarity in human nature. Buckets were
set on the floor of the Scuola di San Rocco, in every shower, to catch
the rain which came through the pictures of Tintoret on the ceiling;
while in the Ducal Palace, those of Paul Veronese were themselves laid
on the floor to be repainted; and I was myself present at the
re-illumination of the breast of a white horse, with a brush, at the end
of a stick five feet long, luxuriously dipped in a common
house-painter's vessel of paint.

This was, of course, a large picture. The process has already been
continued in an equally destructive, though somewhat more delicate
manner, over the whole of the humbler canvases on the ceiling of the
Sala del Gran Consiglio; and I heard it threatened when I was last in
Venice (1851-2) to the "Paradise" at its extremity, which is yet in
tolerable condition,--the largest work of Tintoret, and the most
wonderful piece of pure, manly, and masterly oil-painting in the world.

SECTION CXIX. I leave these facts to the consideration of the European
patrons of art. Twenty years hence they will be acknowledged and
regretted; at present, I am well aware, that it is of little use to
bring them forward, except only to explain the present impossibility of
stating what pictures _are_, and what _were_, in the interior
of the Ducal Palace. I can only say, that in the winter of 1851, the
"Paradise" of Tintoret was still comparatively uninjured, and that the
Camera di Collegio, and its antechamber, and the Sala de' Pregadi were
full of pictures by Veronese and Tintoret, that made their walls as
precious as so many kingdoms; so precious indeed, and so full of
majesty, that sometimes when walking at evening on the Lido, whence the
great chain of the Alps, crested with silver clouds, might be seen
rising above the front of the Ducal Palace, I used to feel as much awe
in gazing on the building as on the hills, and could believe that God
had done a greater work in breathing into the narrowness of dust the
mighty spirits by whom its haughty walls had been raised, and its
burning legends written, than in lifting the rocks of granite higher
than the clouds of heaven, and veiling them with their various mantle of
purple flower and shadowy pine.


I have printed the chapter on the Ducal Palace, quite one of the most
important pieces of work done in my life, without alteration of its
references to the plates of the first edition, because I hope both to
republish some of those plates, and together with them, a few permanent
photographs (both from the sculpture of the Palace itself, and from my
own drawings of its detail), which may be purchased by the possessors of
this smaller edition to bind with the book or not, as they please. This
separate publication I can now soon set in hand; and I believe it will
cause much less confusion to leave for the present the references to the
old plates untouched. The wood-blocks used for the first three figures
in this chapter, are the original ones: that of the Ducal Palace facade
was drawn on the wood by my own hand, and cost me more trouble than it
is worth, being merely given for division and proportion. The greater
part of the first volume, omitted in this edition after "the Quarry,"
will be republished in the series of my reprinted works, with its
original wood-blocks.

But my mind is mainly set now on getting some worthy illustration of the
St. Mark's mosaics, and of such remains of the old capitals (now for
ever removed, in process of the Palace restoration, from their life in
sea wind and sunlight, and their ancient duty, to a museum-grave) as I
have useful record of, drawn in their native light. The series, both of
these and of the earlier mosaics, of which the sequence is sketched in
the preceding volume, and farther explained in the third number of "St.
Mark's Rest," become to me every hour of my life more precious both for
their art and their meaning; and if any of my readers care to help me,
in my old age, to fulfil my life's work rightly, let them send what
pence they can spare for these objects to my publisher, Mr. Allen,
Sunnyside, Orpington, Kent.

Since writing the first part of this note, I have received a letter from
Mr. Burne Jones, assuring me of his earnest sympathy in its object, and
giving me hope even of his superintendence of the drawings, which I have
already desired to be undertaken. But I am no longer able to continue
work of this kind at my own cost; and the fulfilment of my purpose must
entirely depend on the money-help given me by my readers.



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