A voyage to old Venice (before the tourism plague)

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Art

I have never travelled to Venice. But thanks to the power of art, I feel that I have been there many times and navigated its canals on board a gondola and walked across the famous Rialto Bridge. The paintings and etchings shown below depict the Venice of old. This was the Venice before mega cruise ships started coming and discharging hordes of tourists to the dismay and anger of the city’s local inhabitants. It was the Venice that inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write his 1877 sonnet, Venice:

White swan of cities, slumbering in thy nest
So wonderfully built among the reeds
Of the lagoon, that fences thee and feeds,
As sayeth thy old historian and thy guest!
White water-lily, cradled and caressed
By ocean streams, and from the silt and weeds
Lifting thy golden filaments and seeds.
Thy sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest!
White phantom city, whose untrodden streets
Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting
Shadows of palaces and strips of sky;
I wait to see thee vanish like the fleets
Seen in mirage, or towers of cloud uplifting
In air their unsubstantial masonry.

Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana, late 18th century?
Follower of Francesco Guardi, Italian (active Venice), 1712 – 1793 / Philadelphia Museum of Art

Rialto Bridge, circa 1730
Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, Italian, 1697–1768 / Philadelphia Museum of Art

View of the Grand Canal in Venice, 1839
Adolf Friedrich Vollmer (German, 1806–1875) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

Regatta on the Grand Canal in Honor of Frederick IV, King of Denmark, 1711
Luca Carlevarijs (Italian, 1663–1730) / The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

View from the Piazzetta, 1740s?
Follower of Canaletto (Italian, 1697–1768) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

Venetian View, late 18th century
Follower of Francesco Guardi (Italian, 1712–1793) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

In Venice (Aus Venedig), circa 1838–1843
Wilhelm Gail (German, 1804–1890) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

Ca d’Oro, Venice, 1922
Donald MacLaughlan (Canadian-born American, 1876–1938) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Rialto, Venice, 1911
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

Canal in Venice, before 1877
Félix-Francois Georges Philibert Ziem (French, 1821–1911 / Philadelphia Museum of Art

~ Barista Uno


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