A Wanderer in Venice
by E.V. Lucas
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As you leave, ask him the way to S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni, which is close by, and prepare to be very happy.

I have said something about the most beautiful spacious places in Venice—S. Mark's, the Doges' Palace, the Scuola di S. Rocco, and so forth; we now come to what is, without question, the most fascinating small room in Venice. It is no bigger than a billiard-room and unhappily very dark, with a wooden ceiling done in brown, gold, and blue; an altar with a blue and gold canopy; rich panels on the walls; and as a frieze a number of paintings by Vittore Carpaccio, which, in my opinion, transcend in interest the S. Ursula series at the Accademia.

The story of the little precious room is this. In the multitude of seafaring men who in the course of their trade came to Venice with cargoes or for cargoes were a large number of Dalmatians, or Sclavonians, whose ships lay as a rule opposite that part of the city which is known as the Riva degli Schiavoni. Their lot being somewhat noticeably hard, a few wealthy Dalmatian merchants decided in 1451 to make a kind of Seamen's Institute (as we should now say), and a little building was the result of this effort, the patron saints of the altar in it being S. George and S. Tryphonius. Fifty years later the original "Institute" was rebuilt and Carpaccio was called in to decorate it.

The most famous of the pictures are those on the left wall as you enter—S. George attacking the dragon, S. George subduing the dragon, and (on the end wall) S. George baptising the king and princess. These are not only lovely autumnal schemes of colour, but they are perfect illustrations to a fairy tale, for no artist has ever equalled this Venetian in the art of being entertaining. Look at the spirit of the first picture: the onset of both antagonists; and then examine the detail—the remains of the dragon's victims, the half-consumed maidens; the princess in despair; the ships on the sea; the adorable city mounting up and up the hill, with spectators at every balcony. (I reproduce it opposite page 212). And then in the next how Carpaccio must have enjoyed his work on the costumes! Look at the crowds, the band in full blast, the restless horses which like dragons no more than they like bears.

The third, although the subject is less entertaining, shows no decrease of liveliness. Carpaccio's humour underlies every touch of colour. The dog's averted face is one of the funniest things in art—a dog with sceptical views as to baptism!—and the band is hard at it, even though the ceremony, which, from the size of the vase, promises to be very thorough, is beginning.

S. George is a link between Venice and England, for we both honour him as a patron. He is to be seen in pictures again and again in Venetian churches, but these three scenes by Carpaccio are the finest. The Saint was a Cappadocian gentleman and the dragon ranged and terrorized the Libyan desert. Every day the people of the city which the dragon most affected bribed him away with two sheep. When the sheep gave out a man was substituted. Then children and young people, to be selected by lot, and the lot in time fell on the king's daughter. The king in despair offered his subjects gold and silver instead, but they refused saying that it was his own law and must be obeyed. They gave her, however (this, though from the lives of the saints, is sheer fairy tale, isn't it?) eight days grace, in which anything might happen; but nothing happened, and so she was led out to the dragon's lair.

As she stood there waiting to be devoured, S. George passed by. He asked her what she was doing, and she replied by imploring him to run or the dragon would eat him too. But S. George refused, and instead swore to rescue her and the city in the name (and here the fairy tale disappears) of Jesus Christ. The dragon then advancing, S. George spurred his horse, charged and wounded him grievously with his spear. (On English gold coins, as we all know to our shame, he is given nothing but a short dagger which could not reach the enemy at all; Carpaccio knew better.) Most of the painters make this stroke of the saint decisive; according to them, S. George thrust at the dragon and all was over. But the true story, as Caxton and Carpaccio knew, is, that having wounded the dragon, S. George took the maiden's girdle and tied it round the creature's neck, and it became "a meek beast and debonair," and she led it into the city. (Carpaccio makes the saint himself its leader.) The people were terrified and fled, but S. George reassured them, and promised that if they would be baptised and believe in Jesus Christ he would slay the dragon once and for all. They promised, and he smote off its head; and in the third picture we see him baptising.

I have given the charming story as The Golden Legend tells it; but one may also hold the opinion, more acceptable to the orthodox hagiologist, that the dreadful monster was merely symbolical of sin.

As for S. George himself, the most picturesque and comely of all the saints and one whom all the nations reverence, he was born in Cappadocia, in the third century, of noble Christian parents. Becoming a soldier in Diocletian's army he was made a tribune or colonel. The Emperor showed him marks of especial favour, but when the imperial forces were turned against the Christians, George remonstrated and refused. He was therefore beheaded.

For broad comedy the picture of S. Jerome and the lion on the right wall is the best. The story tells us that S. Jerome was one day sitting with the brethren listening to a holy lesson when a lion came hobbling painfully into the monastery. The brethren fled, but S. Jerome, like Androcles, approached the beast, and finding that it had a sore foot, commanded the others to return and minister to it. This they did, and the lion was ever attached to the monastery, one of its duties being to take care of an ass. Carpaccio has not spared the monks: he makes their terror utterly absurd in the presence of so puzzled and gentle a man-eater. In the next picture, the death of the saint, we see the lion again, asleep on the right, and the donkey quietly grazing at the back. As an impressive picture of the death of a good man it can hardly be called successful; but how could it be, coming immediately after the comic Jerome whom we have just seen? Carpaccio's mischief was a little too much for him—look at the pince-nez of the monk on the right reading the service.

Then we have S. Jerome many years younger, busy at his desk. He is just thinking of a word when (the camera, I almost said) when Carpaccio caught him. His tiny dog gazes at him with fascination. Not bad surroundings for a saint, are they? A comfortable study, with a more private study leading from it; books; scientific instruments; music; works of art (note the little pagan bronze on the shelf); and an exceedingly amusing dog. I reproduce the picture opposite page 82.

Two pictures with scriptural subjects represent Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, and Matthew (an Evangelist rarely painted in Venice, where his colleague Mark has all the attention) being called from the receipt of custom. And finally there is the delightful and vivid representation of S. Tryphonius and the basilisk. This picture, of which I give a reproduction opposite page 76, is both charming and funny. The basilisk is surely in the highest rank of the comic beasts of art. It seems to be singing, but that is improbable; what it is unmistakably not doing is basilisking. The little saint stands by in an attitude of prayer, and all about are comely courtiers of the king. In the distance are delightful palaces in the Carpaccio style of architecture, cool marble spaces, and crowded windows and stairs. The steps of the raised temple in which the saint and the basilisk perform have a beautiful intarsia of foliage similar to that on the Giants' Staircase at the Doges' Palace. So much for the ingredients of this bewitching picture; but as to what it is all about I have no knowledge, for I have looked in vain among books for any information. I find a S. Tryphonius, but only as a grown man; not a word of his tender years and his grotesque attendant. How amusing it would be to forget the halo and set the picture as a theme among a class of fanciful fantastic writers, to fit it with an appropriate fairy story! For of course it is as absolute a fairy tale illustration as the dragon pictures on the other wall.

It is now well to ask the way to S. Francesco della Vigna, where we shall find S. Jerome and his lion again. This vast church, with its pretentious and very unwelcoming facade by Palladio covering the friendly red brick, is at the first sight unattractive, so huge and cold and deserted is it. But it has details. It has, for example, just inside the door on the entrance wall, high up, a very beautiful early Christian coloured relief of the Madonna and Child: white on blue, but far earlier than the Delia Robbias. The Madonna is slender as a pole but memorably sweet. It has also a curious great altar picture on wood by a strange painter, Frater Antonius da Negropon, as he signs himself—this in a little chapel in the right transept—with most charming details of birds, and flowers, and scrolls, and monochrome reliefs surrounding a Madonna and Child who beam comfort and assurance of joy. The date is supposed to be about 1450 and the source of Brother Antonio's inspiration must have been similar to that of the great Mantegna's.

There are also the very delightful marble pictures in the chapel of the Giustiniani family to the left of the choir, the work of the Lombardi. About the walls are the evangelists and prophets (S. John no more than a beautiful and sensitive boy), while over the altar are scenes in the life of S. Jerome, whom we again see with his lion. In one relief he extracts the thorn from its foot; in another the lion assists in holding up the theological work which the saint is perusing, while in his other hand the saint poises a model of the church and campanile of S. Zaccaria. Below, on the altar cloth, is a Last Judgment, with the prettiest little angel boys to sound the dreadful trumps. To these must be added two pictures by Paul Veronese, one with a kneeling woman in it who at once brings to mind the S. Helena in our National Gallery.

Furthermore, in the little Cappella Santa is a rich and lovely Giovanni Bellini, with sacred relics in jars above and below it, and outside is the gay little cloistered garden of the still existing monastery, with a figure of S. Francis in the midst of its greenery.

So much for the more ingratiating details of this great church, which are displayed with much spirit by a young sacristan who is something of a linguist: his English consisting of the three phrases: "Good morning," "Very nice," and "Come on!"

The great church has also various tombs of Doges, the most splendid being that noble floor slab in front of the high altar, beneath which repose the bones of Marcantonio Trevisan (1553-1554). What Trevisan was like may be learned from the relief over the sacristy entrance, where he kneels to the crucifix. He made no mark on his times. Andrea Gritti (1523-1538), who also is buried here, was a more noticeable ruler, a born monarch who had a good diplomatic and fighting training abroad before he came to the throne. He was generous, long-memoried, astute, jovial, angry, healthy, voluptuous and an enthusiast for his country. He not only did all that he could for Venice (and one of his unfulfilled projects was to extend the Ducal Palace to absorb the prison) but he was quite capable of single-handed negotiations with foreign rulers.

Other Doges who lie here are the two Contarini, Francesco (1623-1624) and Alvise (1676-1684), but neither was of account; and here, too, in his own chapel lies Alvise's predecessor, Niccolo Sagredo (1674-1676) who had trouble in Candia for his constant companion. Of the Giustiniani only Marcantonio became a Doge and he succeeded Alvise Contarini not only to the throne but to the Candia difficulty, giving way after four years, in 1688, to the great soldier who solved it—Francesco Morosini.



Walking in Venice—The late Colonel Douglas—Shops—The Merceria clock—S. Zulian—S. Salvatore—Sansovino—Carlo Goldoni—the Campo Bartolommeo and Mr. Howells—S. Giovanni Crisostomo—Piombo and Giorgione—A Sacristan artist—Marino Faliero's house—SS. Apostoli and Tiepolo—Venetian skittles—A broad walk—Filled in canals—The Rialto Bridge—S. Giacomo di Rialto—The two Ghettos—The Rialto hunchback—Vegetables and fruits—The fish market—Symmetrical irony—S. Giovanni Elemosinario—A busy thoroughfare—Old books—The convivial gondoliers.

The best of Venice—Venice itself, that is—can never find its way into a book; and even if it did, no reader could extract it again. The best of Venice must be one's own discovery and one's own possession; and one must seek it, as Browning loved to do, in the narrow calli, in the tiny canals, in the smaller campi, or seated idly on bridges careless of time. Chiefly on foot does one realize the inner Venice.

I make no effort in this work to pass on any detailed account of my researches in this way. All I would say is that every calle leads to another; there is hardly a dull inch in the whole city; and for the weary some kind of resting-place—a church, a wine shop, a cafe, or a stone step—is always close by. If you are lost—and in Venice in the poorer populous districts a map is merely an aggravation of dismay, while there is no really good map of the city to be obtained—there is but one thing to do and that is to go on. Before very long you must of necessity come to a calle with more traffic than the others and then you need but flow with the stream to reach some recognizable centre; or merely say "San Marco" or "gondola" to the first boy and he will consider it a privilege to guide you. Do not, however give up before you must, for it is a privilege to be lost in Venice.

For those who prefer exercise to sitting in a gondola there is the stimulating and instructive book by the late Col. Douglas, Venice on Foot, which is a mine of information and interest; but I must admit that the title is against it. Youthful travellers in particular will have none of it. If Venice is anything at all to them, it is a city of water, every footstep in which is an act of treachery to romance.

Even they, however, are pleased to jostle in the Merceria.

The shops of Venice, I may say at once, are not good. They satisfy the Venetians, no doubt, but the Venetians are not hard to please; there is no Bond Street or Rue de la Paix. But a busy shopping centre always being amusing, the Merceria and Frezzeria become attractive haunts of the stranger; the Merceria particularly so. To gain this happy hunting ground one must melt away with the crowd through the gateway under the famous blue clock, which is worth a visit on account of its two bronze giants: one punctual and one late, for that one on the left of the bell, as we face the tower from the Piazza, is always a minute or two after his brother in striking the hours. The right hand giant strikes first, swinging all his upper part as he does so; and then the other. From their attitude much of Venice is revealed, but only the thin can enjoy this view, such being the narrowness of the winding stairs and doorway by which it is gained. At Easter a procession of mechanical figures below the clock-face delights the spectators.

It was while Coryat was in Venice that one of these giants, I know not which, performed a deed of fatal savagery. The traveller thus describes it: "A certaine fellow that had the charge to looke to the clocke, was very busie about the bell, according to his usuall custome every day, to the end to amend something in it that was amisse. But in the meane time one of those wilde men that at the quarters of the howers doe use to strike the bell, strooke the man in the head with his brazen hammer, giving him such a violent blow, that therewith he fell down dead presently in his place, and never spake more."

At the third turning to the right out of the Merceria is the church of S. Giuliano, or S. Zulian, which the great Sansovino built. One evening, hearing singing as I passed, I entered, but found standing-room only, and that only with the greatest discomfort. Yet the congregation was so happy and the scene was so animated that I stayed on and on—long enough at any rate for the offertory box to reach me three separate times. Every one present was either poor or on the borders of poverty; and the fervour was almost that of a salvation army meeting. And why not, since the religion both of the Pope and of General Booth was pre-eminently designed for the poor? I came away with a tiny coloured picture of the Virgin and more fleas than I ever before entertained at the same time.

At the end of the Merceria is S. Salvatore, a big quiet church in the Renaissance style, containing the ashes of S. Theodore, the tombs of various Doges, and a good Bellini: a warm, rich, and very human scene of a wayside inn at Emmaus and Christ appearing there. An "Annunciation" by Titian is in the church proper, painted when he was getting very old, and framed by Sansovino; a "Transfiguration" by Titian is in the pretty sacristy, which, like many of the Venetian churches, is presided over by a dwarf. A procession of Venetian sacristans would, by the way, be a strange and grotesque spectacle.

The best of the S. Salvatore monuments is that by Sansovino of Doge Francesco Venier (1554-1556), with beautiful figures in the niches from the same hand—that of Charity, on the left, being singularly sweet. When Sansovino made these he was nearly eighty. Sansovino also designed the fine doorway beneath the organ. The most imposing monuments are those of Caterina Cornaro (or Corner) the deposed queen of Cyprus, in the south transept; of three Cardinals of the Corner family; and of the Doges Lorenzo and Girolamo Priuli, each with his patron saint above him. The oddity of its architecture, together with its situation at a point where a little silence is peculiarly grateful, makes this church a favourite of mine, but there are many buildings in Venice which are more beautiful.

Opposite, diagonally, is one of the depressing sights of Venice, a church turned into a cinema.

Leaving S. Salvatore by the main door and turning to the left, we soon come (past a hat shop which offers "Rooswelts" at 2.45 each), to the Goldoni Theatre. Leaving San Salvatore by the same door and turning to the right, we come to Goldoni himself, in bronze, in the midst of the Campo S. Bartolommeo: the little brisk observant satirist upon whom Browning wrote the admirably critical sonnet which I quote earlier in this book.

The comedies of Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) still hold the Italian stage, but so far as translations can tell me they are very far from justifying any comparison between himself and Moliere. Goldoni's Autobiography is not a very entertaining work, but it is told with the engaging minuteness which seems to have been a Venetian trait.

The church of S. Bartolommeo contains altar pieces by Giorgione's pupil, Sebastian del Piombo, but there is no light by which to see them.

It was in this campo that Mr. Howells had rooms before he married and blossomed out on the Grand Canal, and his description of the life here is still so good and so true, although fifty years have passed, that I make bold to quote it, not only to enrich my own pages, but in the hope that the tastes of the urbane American book which I give now and then may send readers to it. The campo has changed little except that the conquering Austrians have gone and Goldoni's statue is now here. Mr. Howells thus describes it: "Before the winter passed, I had changed my habitation from rooms near the Piazza to quarters on the Campo San Bartolommeo, through which the busiest street in Venice passes, from S. Mark's to the Rialto Bridge. It is one of the smallest squares of the city, and the very noisiest, and here the spring came with intolerable uproar. I had taken my rooms early in March, when the tumult under my windows amounted only to a cheerful stir, and made company for me; but when the winter broke, and the windows were opened, I found that I had too much society.

"Each campo in Venice is a little city, self-contained and independent. Each has its church, of which it was in the earliest times the burial-ground; and each within its limits compasses an apothecary's shop, a blacksmith's and shoemaker's shop, a caffe more or less brilliant, a greengrocer's and fruiterer's, a family grocery—nay, there is also a second-hand merchant's shop where you buy and sell every kind of worn out thing at the lowest rates. Of course there is a coppersmith's and a watchmaker's, and pretty certainly a wood carver's and gilder's, while without a barber's shop no campo could preserve its integrity or inform itself of the social and political news of the day. In addition to all these elements of bustle and disturbance, San Bartolommeo swarmed with the traffic and rang with the bargains of the Rialto market.

"Here the small dealer makes up in boastful clamour for the absence of quantity and assortment in his wares; and it often happens that an almost imperceptible boy, with a card of shirt buttons and a paper of hair pins, is much worse than the Anvil Chorus with real anvils. Fishermen, with baskets of fish upon their heads; peddlers, with trays of housewife wares; louts who dragged baskets of lemons and oranges back and forth by long cords; men who sold water by the glass; charlatans who advertised cement for mending broken dishes, and drops for the cure of toothache; jugglers who spread their carpets and arranged their temples of magic upon the ground; organists who ground their organs; and poets of the people who brought out new songs, and sang and sold them to the crowd—these were the children of confusion, whom the pleasant sun and friendly air woke to frantic and interminable uproar in San Bartolommeo.

"In San Bartolommeo, as in other squares, the buildings are palaces above and shops below. The ground floor is devoted to the small commerce of various kinds already mentioned; the first story above is occupied by tradesmen's families; and on the third or fourth is the appartimento signorile. From the balconies of these stories hung the cages of innumerable finches, canaries, blackbirds, and savage parrots, which sang and screamed with delight in the noise that rose from the crowd. All the human life, therefore, which the spring drew to the casements was perceptible only in dumb show. One of the palaces opposite was used as a hotel, and faces continually appeared at the windows. By all the odds the most interesting figure there was that of a stout peasant serving-girl, dressed in a white knitted jacket, a crimson neckerchief, and a bright coloured gown, and wearing long dangling earrings of yellowest gold. For hours this idle maiden balanced herself half over the balcony rail in perusal of the people under her, and I suspect made love at that distance, and in that constrained position, to some one in the crowd. On another balcony a lady sat; at the window of still another house, a damsel now looked out upon the square, and now gave a glance into the room, in the evident direction of a mirror. Venetian neighbours have the amiable custom of studying one another's features through opera-glasses; but I could not persuade myself to use this means of learning the mirror's response to the damsel's constant "Fair or not?" being a believer in every woman's right to look well a little way off. I shunned whatever trifling temptation there was in the case, and turned again to the campo beneath—to the placid dandies about the door of the cafe; to the tide of passers-by from the Merceria; the smooth shaven Venetians of other days, and the bearded Venetians of these; the dark-eyed white-faced Venetians, hooped in cruel disproportion to the narrow streets, but richly clad, and moving with southern grace; the files of heavily burdened soldiers; the little policemen loitering lazily about with their swords at their sides, and in their spotless Austrian uniforms."

Having reached Goldoni's statue there are two courses open to us if we are in a mood for walking. One is to cross the Rialto bridge and join the stream which always fills the narrow busy calli that run parallel with the Grand Canal to the Frari. The other is to leave this campo at the far end, at Goldoni's back, and join the stream which is always flowing backwards and forwards along the new Via Vittorio Emmanuele.

Let me describe both routes, beginning with the second. A few yards after leaving the campo we come on the right to the little church of S. Giovanni Crisostomo where there are two unusually delightful pictures: a Sebastiano del Piombo and a Bellini, with a keen little sacristan who enjoys displaying their beauties and places you in the best light. The Bellini is his last signed work, and was painted when the old man was in his eighty-fifth year. The restorer has been at it, but not to its detriment. S. Christopher, S. Jerome, and S. Augustine are sweetly together in a delectable country; S. Christopher (as the photograph on the opposite page shows) bearing perhaps the most charming Christ Child of all, with his thumb in his mouth. The Piombo—another company of saints—over the high altar, is a fine mellow thing with a very Giorgionesque figure of the Baptist dominating it, and a lovely Giorgionesque landscape spreading away. The picture (which I reproduce opposite page 116) is known to be the last which Sebastiano painted before he went to Rome and gave up Giorgione's influence for Michael Angelo's. It has been suggested that Giorgione merely supplied the design; but I think one might safely go further and affirm that the painting of the right side was his too and the left Piombo's. How far Piombo departed from Giorgione's spell and came under the other may be seen in our National Gallery by any visitor standing before No. 1—his "Raising of Lazarus". Very little of the divine chromatic melody of Castel Franco there!

S. Giovanni Crisostomo has also two fine reliefs, one by Tullio Lombardi with a sweet little Virgin (who, however, is no mother) in it, and the twelve Apostles gathered about. The sacristan, by the way, is also an amateur artist, and once when I was there he had placed his easel just by the side door and was engaged in laboriously copying in pencil Veronese's "Christ in the House of Levi" (the original being a mile away, at the Accademia) from an old copper plate, whistling the while. Having no india-rubber he corrected his errors either with a penknife or a dirty thumb. Art was then more his mistress than Pecunia, for on this occasion he never left his work, although more than one Baedeker was flying the red signal of largesse.

Continuing on our way we come soon to a point where the Calle Dolfin meets a canal at right angles, with a large notice tablet like a gravestone to keep us from falling into the water. It bears an ancient, and I imagine, obsolete, injunction with regard to the sale of bread by unauthorized persons. Turning to the left we are beneath the arcade of the house of the ill-fated Marino Faliero, the Doge who was put to death for treason, as I have related elsewhere. It is now shops and tenements. Opposite is the church of SS. Apostoli, which is proud of possessing an altar-piece by Tiepolo which some think his finest work, and of which the late John Addington Symonds wrote in terms of excessive rapture. It represents the last communion of S. Lucy, whose eyes were put out. Her eyes are here, in fact, on a plate. No one can deny the masterly drawing and grouping of the picture, but, like all Tiepolo's work, it leaves me cold.

I do not suggest the diversion at this moment; but from SS. Apostoli one easily gains the Fondamenta Nuovo, on the way passing through a rather opener Venice where canals are completely forgotten. Hereabouts are two or three popular drinking places with gardens, and on one Sunday afternoon I sat for some time in the largest of them—the Trattoria alla Libra—watching several games of bowls—the giuocho di bocca—in full swing. The Venetian workman—and indeed the Italian workman generally—is never so happy as when playing this game, or perhaps he is happiest when—ball in hand—he discusses with his allies various lines of strategy. The Giudecca is another stronghold of the game, every little bar there having a stamped-down bowling alley at the back of it.

The longest direct broad walk in Venice—longer than the Riva—begins at SS. Apostoli and extends to the railway station. The name of the street is the Via Vittorio Emmanuele, and in order to obtain it many canals had to be filled-in. To the loss of canals the visitor is never reconciled. Wherever one sees the words Rio Terra before the name of a calle, one knows that it is a filled-in canal. For perhaps the best example of the picturesque loss which this filling-in entails one should seek the Rio Terra delle Colonne, which runs out of the Calle dei Fabri close to the Piazza of S. Mark. When this curved row of pillars was at the side of water it must have been impressive indeed.

And now we must return to the Goldoni statue to resume that other itinerary over the Rialto bridge, which is as much the centre of Venice by day as S. Mark's Square is by night. In another chapter I speak of the bridge as seen from the Grand Canal, which it so nobly leaps. More attractive is the Grand Canal as seen from it; and the visitor to Venice should spend much time leaning upon the parapet of one side and the other at the highest point. He will have it for the most part to himself, for the Venetians prefer the middle way between the shops. These shops are, however, very dull—principally cheap clothiers and inferior jewellers—and the two outer tracks are better. From here may best be seen the facade of the central Post Office, once the Fondaco dei Tedeschi splendid with the frescoes of Giorgione and Titian. The frescoes have gone and it is now re-faced with stucco. From here, too, the beautiful palace of the Camerlenghi at the edge of the Erberia is most easily studied. The Rialto bridge itself exerts no spell. It does not compare in interest or charm with the Ponte Vecchio of Florence.

The busiest and noisiest part of Venice begins at the further foot of the bridge, for here are the markets, crowded by housewives with their bags or baskets, and a thousand busy wayfarers.

The little church of the market-place—the oldest in Venice—is S. Giacomo di Rialto, but I have never been able to find it open. Commerce now washes up to its walls and practically engulfs it. A garden is on its roof, and its clock has stopped permanently at four.

It was in this campo that the merchants anciently met: here, in the district of the Rialto, and not on the bridge itself, as many readers suppose, did Antonio transact his business with one Shylock a Jew. There are plenty of Jews left in Venice; in fact, I have been told that they are gradually getting possession of the city, and judging by their ability in that direction elsewhere, I can readily believe it; but I saw none in the least like the Shylock of the English stage, although I spent some time both in the New Ghetto and the Old by the Cannaregio. All unwilling I once had the company of a small Jewish boy in a gaberdine for the whole way from the New Ghetto to the steamboat station of S. Toma, his object in life being to acquire for nothing a coin similar to one which I had given to another boy who had been really useful. If he avowed once that he was a starving Jewish boy and I was a millionaire, he said it fifty times. Every now and then he paused for an anxious second to throw a somersault. But I was obdurate, and embarking on the steamer, left the two falsehoods to fight it out.

The two Ghettos, by the way, are not interesting; no traveller, missing them, need feel that he has been in Venice in vain.

At the other end of the Rialto campo, opposite the church, is the famous hunchback, the Gobbo of the Rialto, who supports a rostrum from which the laws of the Republic were read to the people, after they had been read, for a wider audience, from the porphyry block at the corner of S. Mark's.

Leaving the Gobbo on our left and passing from the campo at the right-hand corner, we come to the great arcaded markets for fruit and vegetables, and further to the wholesale and retail fish markets, all of which are amusing to loiter in, particularly in the early hours of the morning. To the Erberia are all the fruit-laden barges bound, chiefly from Malamocco, the short cut from the lagoon being through the Rio del Palazzo beneath the Bridge of Sighs and into the Grand Canal, just opposite us, by the Post Office. The fruit market is busy twice a day, in the early morning and in the late afternoon; the fish market in the morning only.

The vegetables and fruit differ according to the seasons; the fish are always the same. In the autumn, when the quay is piled high with golden melons and flaming tomatoes, the sight is perhaps the most splendid. The strangest of the fish to English eyes are the great cuttle-fish, which are sold in long slices. It strikes one as a refinement of symmetrical irony that the ink which exudes from these fish and stains everything around should be used for indicating what their price is.

Here also are great joints of tunny, huge red scarpenna, sturgeon, mullet, live whole eels (to prove to me how living they were, a fishmonger one morning allowed one to bite him) and eels in writhing sections, aragosta, or langouste, and all the little Adriatic and lagoon fish—the scampi and shrimps and calimari—spread out in little wet heaps on the leaves of the plane-tree. One sees them here lying dead; one can see them also, alive and swimming about, in the aquarium on the Lido, where the prettiest creatures are the little cavalli marini, or sea horses, roosting in the tiny submarine branches.

From all the restlessness and turmoil of these markets there is escape in the church of S. Giovanni Elemosinario, a few yards along the Ruga Vecchia di San Giovanni on the left. Here one may sit and rest and collect one's thoughts and then look at a fine rich altar-piece by Pordenone—S. Sebastian, S. Rocco, and S. Catherine. The lion of the church is a Titian, but it is not really visible.

As typical a walk as one can take in democratic Venice is that from this church to the Frari, along the Ruga Vecchia di San Giovanni, parallel with the Grand Canal. I have been here often both by day and by night, and it is equally characteristic at either time. Every kind of shop is here, including two old book-shops, one of which (at the corner of the Campiello dei Meloni) is well worth rummaging in. A gentle old lady sits in the corner so quietly as to be invisible, and scattered about are quite a number of English books among them, when I was last there, a surprising proportion of American minor verse. Another interesting shop here supplies Venetians with the small singing birds which they love so much, a cage by a window being the rule rather than the exception; and it was hereabouts that an old humorous greengrocer once did his voluble best to make me buy a couple of grilli, or crickets, in a tiny barred prison, to make their shrill mysterious music for me. But I resisted.

At night, perhaps, is this walk best, for several very popular wine shops for gondoliers are hereabouts, one or two quite large, with rows of barrels along the walls; and it is good to see every seat full, and an arm round many a waist, and everybody merry. Such a clatter of tongues as comes from these taverns is not to be beaten; and now and then a tenor voice or a mandolin adds a grace.



The Scuola di S. Rocco—Defective lighting—A competition of artists—The life of the Virgin—A dramatic Annunciation—Ruskin's analysis—S. Mary of Egypt—The upper hall—"The Last Supper"—"Moses striking the rock"—"The Crucifixion"—A masterpiece—Tintoretto's career—Titian and Michel Angelo—A dramatist of the Bible—Realistic carvings—The life of S. Rocco—A humorist in wood—A model council chamber—A case of reliquaries—The church of S. Rocco—Giorgione or Titian?

There are Tintorettos everywhere in Venice, in addition to the immense canvases in the Doges' Palace, but I imagine that were we able to ask the great man the question, Where would he choose to be judged? he would reply, "At the Scuola di S. Rocco,"—with perhaps a reservation in favour of "The Miracle of S. Mark" at the Accademia, and possibly the "Presentation" (for I feel he must have loved that work) at the Madonna dell'Orto, and "The Marriage in Cana," that fascinating scene, in the Salute. In the superb building of the S. Rocco Scuola he reigns alone, and there his "Crucifixion" is.

The Scuola and the church, in white stone, hide behind the lofty red-brick apse of the Frari. The Scuola's facade has, in particular, the confidence of a successful people. Within, it is magnificent too, while to its architectural glories it adds no fewer than six-and-fifty Tintorettos; many of which, however, can be only dimly seen, for the great Bartolommeo Bon, who designed the Scuola, forgot that pictures require light. Nor was he unique among Venice's builders in this matter; they mostly either forgot it or allowed their jealousy of a sister art to influence them. "Light, more light," is as much the cry of the groping enthusiast for painting in this fair city, as it was of the dying Goethe.

The story of Tintoretto's connexion with the Scuola illustrates his decision and swiftness. The Scuola having been built, where, under the banner of S. Rocco, a philanthropical confraternity might meet to confer as to schemes of social amelioration, it was, in 1560, decided to invite the more prominent artists to make proposals as to its decoration. Tintoretto, then forty-two, Paul Veronese and Schiavone were among them. They were to meet in the Refectory and display their sketches; and on a given day all were there. Tintoretto stood aside while the others unfolded their designs, which were examined and criticized. Then came his turn, but instead of producing a roll he twitched a covering, which none had noticed, and revealed in the middle of the ceiling the finished painting of S. Rocco in glory. A scene of amazement and perplexity ensued. The other artists, accepting defeat, retired from the field; the authorities gazed in a fine state of confusion over the unconventional foreshortening of the saint and his angel. They also pointed out that Tintoretto had broken the condition of the competition in providing a painting when only sketches were required. "Very well," he said, "I make you a present of it." Since by the rules of the confraternity all gifts offered to it had to be accepted, he thus won his footing; and the rest was easy. Two or three years later he was made a brother of the Order, at fifty pounds a year, in return for which he was each year to provide three paintings; and this salary he drew for seventeen years, until the great work was complete.

The task comprises the scenes in the life of the Virgin, in the lower hall; the scenes in the life of Christ, on the walls of the upper hall; the scenes from the Old Testament, on the ceiling of the upper hall; and the last scenes in the life of Christ, in the Refectory. In short, the Scuola di S. Rocco is Tintoretto's Sistine Chapel.

We enter to an "Annunciation"; and if we had not perceived before, we at once perceive here, in this building, Tintoretto's innovating gift of realism. He brought dailiness into art. Tremendous as was his method, he never forgot the little things. His domestic details leaven the whole.

This "Annunciation" is the most dramatic version that exists. The Virgin has been sitting quietly sewing in her little room, poorly enough furnished, with a broken chair by the bed, when suddenly this celestial irruption—this urgent flying angel attended by a horde of cherubim or cupids and heralded by the Holy Spirit. At the first glance you think that the angel has burst through the wall, but that is not so. But as it is, even without that violence, how utterly different from the demure treatment of the Tuscans! To think of Fra Angelico and Tintoretto together is like placing a violet beside a tiger lily.

A little touch in the picture should be noticed: a carpenter at work outside. Very characteristic of Tintoretto.

Next—but here let me remind or inform the reader that the Venetian Index at the end of the later editions of The Stones of Venice contains an analysis of these works, by Ruskin, which is as characteristic of that writer as the pictures are of their artist. In particular is Ruskin delighted by "The Annunciation," by "The Murder of the Innocents," and, upstairs, by the ceiling paintings and the Refectory series.

Next is "The Adoration of the Magi," with all the ingredients that one can ask, except possibly any spiritual rapture; and then the flight into a country less like the Egypt to which the little family were bound, or the Palestine from which they were driven, than one can imagine, but a dashing work. Then "The Slaughter of the Innocents," a confused scene of fine and daring drawing, in which, owing to gloom and grime, no innocents can be discerned. Then a slender nocturnal pastoral which is even more difficult to see, representing Mary Magdalen in a rocky landscape, and opposite it a similar work representing S. Mary of Egypt, which one knows to be austere and beautiful but again cannot see.

Since the story of S. Mary of Egypt is little known, I may perhaps be permitted to tell it here. This Mary, before her conversion, lived in Alexandria at the end of the fourth century and was famous for her licentiousness. Then one day, by a caprice, joining a company of pilgrims to Jerusalem, she embraced Christianity, and in answer to her prayers for peace of mind was bidden by a supernatural voice to pass beyond Jordan, where rest and comfort were to be found. There, in the desert, she roamed for forty-seven years, when she was found, naked and grey, by a holy man named Zosimus who was travelling in search of a hermit more pious than himself with whom he might have profitable converse. Zosimus, having given her his mantle for covering, left her, but he returned in two years, bringing with him the Sacrament and some food.

When they caught sight of each other, Mary was on the other side of the Jordan, but she at once walked to him calmly over the water, and after receiving the Sacrament returned in the same manner; while Zosimus hastened to Jerusalem with the wonderful story.

The next year Zosimus again went in search of her, but found only her corpse, which, with the assistance of a lion, he buried. She was subsequently canonized.

The other two and hardly distinguishable paintings are "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" and "The Assumption of the Virgin."

Now we ascend the staircase, on which is a beautiful "Annunciation" by Titian, strangely unlike Tintoretto's version below. Here the Virgin kneels before her desk, expectant, and the angel sails quietly in with a lily. The picture is less dramatic and more sympathetic; but personally I should never go to Venice for an "Annunciation" at all. Here also is Tintoretto's "Visitation," but it is not easily seen.

The upper hall is magnificent, but before we examine it let us proceed with the Tintorettos. In "The Adoration of the Shepherds," in the far left-hand corner as one enters, there is an excellent example of the painter's homeliness. It is really two pictures, the Holy Family being on an upper floor, or rather shelf, of the manger and making the prettiest of groups, while below, among the animals, are the shepherds, real peasants, looking up in worship and rapture. This is one of the most attractive of the series, not only as a painting but as a Biblical illustration.

In the corresponding corner at the other end of this wall is another of the many "Last Suppers" which Tintoretto devised. It does not compare in brilliance with that in S. Giorgio Maggiore, but it must greatly have interested the painter as a composition, and nothing could be more unlike the formality of the Leonardo da Vinci convention, with the table set square to the spectators, than this curious disordered scramble in which several of the disciples have no chairs at all. The attitudes are, however, convincing, Christ is a gracious figure, and the whole scene is very memorable and real.

The Tintorettos on the walls of the upper hall I find less interesting than those on the ceiling, which, however, present the usual physical difficulties to the student. How Ruskin with his petulant impatience brought himself to analyse so minutely works the examination of which leads to such bodily discomfort, I cannot imagine. But he did so, and his pages should be consulted. He is particularly interesting on "The Plague of Serpents." My own favourite is that of Moses striking the rock, from which, it is said, an early critic fled for his life for fear of the torrent. The manna scene may be compared with another and more vivid version of the same incident in S. Giorgio Maggiore.

The scenes from the Life of Christ around the walls culminate in the wonderful "Crucifixion," in the Refectory leading from this room. This sublime work, which was painted in 1565, when the artist was forty-seven, he considered his masterpiece. It is the greatest single work in Venice, and all Tintoretto is in it, except the sensuous colourist of the "Origin of the Milky Way": all his power, all his thought, all his drama. One should make this room a constant retreat. The more one studies the picture the more real is the scene and the more amazing the achievement. I do not say that one is ever moved as one can be in the presence of great simplicity; one is aware in all Tintoretto's work of a hint of the self-conscious entrepreneur; but never, one feels, was the great man so single-minded as here; never was his desire to impress so deep and genuine. In the mass the picture is overpowering; in detail, to which one comes later, its interest is inexhaustible. As an example of the painter's minute thought, one writer has pointed out that the donkey in the background is eating withered palm leaves—a touch of ironical genius, if you like. Ruskin calls this work the most exquisite instance of the "imaginative penetrative." I reproduce a detail showing the soldiers with the ropes and the group of women at the foot of the cross.

The same room has Tintoretto's noble picture of Christ before Pilate and the fine tragic composition "The Road to Calvary," and on the ceiling is the S. Rocco of which I have already spoken—the germ from which sprang the whole wonderful series.

The story of this, the most Venetian of the Venetian painters and the truest to his native city (for all his life was spent here), may more fittingly be told in this place, near his masterpiece and his portrait (which is just by the door), than elsewhere. He was born in 1518, in the ninth year of our Henry VIII's reign, the son of a dyer, or tintore, named Battista Robusti, and since the young Jacopo Robusti helped his father in his trade he was called the little dyer, or il tintoretto. His father was well to do, and the boy had enough leisure to enable him to copy and to frequent the arcades of S. Mark's Square, under which such artists as were too poor to afford studios were allowed to work.

The greatest name in Venetian art at that time, and indeed still, was that of Titian, and Tintoretto was naturally anxious to become his pupil. Titian was by many years Tintoretto's senior when, at the age of seventeen, the little dyer obtained leave to study under him. The story has it that so masterly were Tintoretto's early drawings that Titian, fearing rivalry, refused to teach him any longer. Whether this be true or not, and one dislikes to think of Titian in this way, Tintoretto left the studio and was thrown upon his own resources and ambition. Fortunately he did not need money: he was able even to form a collection of casts from the antique and also from Michael Angelo, the boy's other idol, who when Tintoretto was seventeen was sixty-one. Thus supplied, Tintoretto practised drawing and painting, day and night, his motto being "Titian's colour and Michael Angelo's form"; and he expressed himself as willing to paint anything anywhere, inside a house or outside, and if necessary for nothing, rather than be idle. Practice was what he believed in: practice and study; and he never tired. All painting worth anything, he held, must be based on sound drawing. "You can buy colours on the Rialto," he would remark, "but drawing can come only by labour." Some say that he was stung by a sarcasm of his Tuscan hero that the Venetians could not draw; be that as it may, he made accurate drawing his corner-stone; and so thorough was he in his study of chiaroscuro that he devised little toy houses in which to manufacture effects of light and shade. One of his first pictures to attract attention was a portrait of himself and his brother illuminated by a lamp.

So passed, in miscellaneous work, even to painting furniture, at least ten years, towards the close of which he painted for the Madonna dell'Orto his earliest important work, "The Last Judgment," which though derived from Michael Angelo yet indicates much personal force. It was in 1548, when he was thirty, that Tintoretto's real chance came, for he was then invited to contribute to the decoration of the Scuola of S. Marco, and for it he produced one of his greatest works, "The Miracle of S. Mark," now in the Accademia. The novelty of its vivid force and drama, together with its power and assurance, although, as I have said, at first disconcerting to the unprepared critics, soon made an impression; spectators were carried off their feet; and Tintoretto's fame was assured. See opposite page 170.

I have not counted the Venetian churches with examples of Tintoretto's genius in them (it would be simpler to count those that have none); but they are many and his industry was enormous. One likes to think of his studio being visited continually by church patrons and prelates anxious to see how their particular commission was getting on.

Tintoretto married in 1558, two years after Shakespeare's birth, his wife being something of an heiress, and in 1562 his eldest son, Domenico, who also became an artist, was born. We have seen how in 1560 Tintoretto competed for the S. Rocco decorations; in 1565 he painted "The Crucifixion"; and he was working on the walls of the Scuola until 1588. In the meantime he worked also for the Doges' Palace, his first picture, that of the Battle of Lepanto, being destroyed with many others in the fire of 1576, first obtaining him as a reward a sinecure post in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, that central office of German merchants and brokers on the facade of which Giorgione and Titian painted their famous (now obliterated) frescoes. Small posts here with no obligations were given to public servants, much as we give Civil List pensions.

Tintoretto's life was very methodical, and was divided strictly between painting and domestic affairs, with few outside diversions. He had settled down in the house which now bears his name and a tablet, close to the church of the Madonna dell'Orto. His children were eight in number, among whom his favourite was Marietta, his eldest daughter. He and she were in fact inseparable, Marietta even donning boy's attire in order to be with him at his work on occasions when as a girl it would have been difficult. Perhaps it is she who so often appears in his pictures as a beautiful sympathetic human girl among so much that is somewhat frigidly Biblical and detached. Among his closer friends were some of the best Venetian intellects, and, among the artists, Andrea Schiavone, who hovers like a ghost about so many painters and their work, Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese, Jacopo da Ponte, or Bassano, and Alessandro Vittoria, the sculptor. He had musician friends, too; for Tintoretto, like Giorgione before him, was devoted to music, and himself played many instruments. He was a man of simple tastes and a quiet and somewhat dry humour; liked home best; chaffed his wife, who was a bit of a manager and had to check his indiscriminate generosity by limiting him to one coin a day; and, there is no doubt whatever, studied his Bible with minuteness. His collected works make the most copious illustrated edition of scripture that exists.

Certain of Tintoretto's sayings prove his humour to have had a caustic turn. Being once much harassed by a crowd of spectators, including men of civic eminence, he was asked why he painted so quickly when Bellini and Titian had been so deliberate. "They had not so many onlookers to drive them to distraction," he replied. Of Titian, in spite of his admiration for his colour, he was always a little jealous and could not bear to hear him much praised; and colour without drawing eternally vexed him. His own colour is always subservient. The saying of his which one remembers best bears upon the difficulties that beset the conscientious artist: "The farther you go in, the deeper is the sea."

Late in life Tintoretto spent much time with the brothers of S. Rocco. In 1594, at the age of seventy-six, he died, after a short illness. All Venice attended his funeral.

He was one of the greatest of painters, and, like Michael Angelo, he did nothing little. All was on the grand scale. He had not Michael Angelo's towering superiority, but he too was a giant. His chief lack was tenderness. There is something a little remote, a little unsympathetic, in all his work: one admires and wonders, and awaits in vain the softening moment. To me he is as much a dramatist of the Bible as a painter of it.

One is rarely satisfied with the whole of a Tintoretto; but a part of most of his works is superb. Of all his pictures in Venice my favourite secular one is the "Bacchus and Ariadne" in the Doges' Palace, which has in it a loveliness not excelled in any painting that I know. Excluding "The Crucifixion" I should name "The Marriage in Cana" at the Salute as his most ingratiating Biblical scene. See opposite pages 48 and 96.

The official programme of the Scuola pictures, printed on screens in various languages, badly needs an English revisor. Here are two titles: "Moise who makes the water spring"; "The three children in the oven of Babylony." It also states "worthy of attention are as well the woodcarvings round the wall sides by an anonymous." To these we come later. Let me say first that everything about the upper hall, which you will note has no pillars, is splendid and thorough—proportions, ceiling, walls, carvings, floor.

The carvings on each side of the high altar (not those "by an anonymous" but others) tell very admirably the life of the patron saint of the school whose "S.R.," nobly devised in brass, will be found so often both here and in the church across the way. S. Rocco, or Saint Rocke, as Caxton calls him, was born at Montpelier in France of noble parentage. His father was lord of Montpelier. The child, who came in answer to prayer, bore at birth on his left shoulder a cross and was even as a babe so holy that when his mother fasted he fasted too, on two days in the week deriving nourishment from her once only, and being all the gladder, sweeter, and merrier for this denial. The lord of Montpelier when dying impressed upon his exemplary son four duties: namely, to continue to be vigilant in doing good, to be kind to the poor, to distribute all the family wealth in alms, and to haunt and frequent the hospitals.

Both his parents being dead, Rocco travelled to Italy. At Acquapendente he healed many persons of the pestilence, and also at Cesena and at Rome, including a cardinal, whom he rendered immune to plague for ever more by drawing a cross on his forehead. The cardinal took him to see the pope, in whose presence Rocco's own forehead shone with a supernatural light which greatly impressed the pontiff. After much further wandering and healing, Rocco himself took the disease under both his arms and was so racked with pain that he kept the other patients in the hospital awake. This distressing him, he crept away where his groans were out of hearing, and there he lay till the populace, finding him, and fearing infection, drove him from the city. At Piacenza, where he took refuge, a spring of fair water, which is there to this day, gushed out of the earth for his liquid refreshment and as mark of heaven's approval; while the hound of a neighbouring sportsman brought him bread from the lord Golard's table: hence the presence of a dog in all representations of the saint. In the church of S. Rocco across the way Tintoretto has a picture of this scene in which we discern the dog to have been a liver-and-white spaniel.

Golard, discovering the dog's fidelity to Rocco, himself passed into the saint's service and was so thoroughly converted by him that he became a humble mendicant in the Piacenza streets. Rocco meanwhile continued to heal, although he could not heal himself, and he even cured the wild animals of their complaints, as Tintoretto also shows us. Being at last healed by heaven, he travelled to Lombardy, where he was taken as a spy and imprisoned for five years, and in prison he died, after being revealed as a saint to his gaoler. His dying prayer was that all Christians who prayed to him in the name of Jesus might be delivered from pestilence. Shortly after Rocco's death an angel descended to earth with a table written in letters of gold stating that this wish had been granted. In the carvings in the chancel, the bronzes on the gate and in Tintoretto's pictures in the neighbouring church, much of this story may be traced.

The most noteworthy carvings round the room represent types and attributes. Here is the musician, the conspirator (a very Guy Fawkes, with dark lantern and all), the scholar, and so forth, all done with humorous detail by one Pianta. When he came to the artist he had a little quiet fun with the master himself, this figure being a caricature of no less a performer than the great Tintoretto.

The little room leading from the upper hall is that rare thing in Venice, a council chamber which presents a tight fit for the council. Just inside is a wax model of the head of one of the four Doges named Alvise Mocenigo, I know not which. Upstairs is a Treasury filled with valuable ecclesiastical vessels, missals and vestments, and two fine religious pictures from the masterly worldly hand of Tiepolo. Among the sacred objects enshrined in gold and silver reliquaries are a piece of the jawbone of S. Barbara, a piece of the cranium of S. Martin, a tiny portion of the veil of the Madonna, and a tooth of S. Apollonius held in triumph in a pair of forceps by a little golden cherub. And now, descending again, let us look once more at the great picture of Him whose Life and Crucifixion put into motion all this curious ecclesiastical machinery—so strangely far from the original idea.

The church of S. Rocco is opposite, and one must enter it for Tintoretto's scenes in the life of the saint, and for a possible Giorgione over the altar to the right of the choir in a beautiful old frame. The subject is Christ carrying the cross, with a few urging Him on. The theory that Giorgione painted this picture is gaining ground, and we know that only about a century after Giorgione's death Van Dyck, when sketching in Venice, made some notes of the work under the impression that it was the divine Castel Francan's. The light is poor and the picture is in a bad state, but one is conscious of being in the presence of a work of very delicate beauty and a profound soft richness. The picture, Vasari says, once worked miracles, and years ago it brought in, in votive money, great sums. One grateful admirer has set up a version of it in marble, on the left wall of the choir. Standing before this Giorgione, as before the Tintorettos here and over the way, one again wishes, as so often in Venice, that some American millionaire, in love with this lovely city and in doubt as to how to apply his superfluity of cash, would offer to clean the pictures in the churches. What glorious hues would then come to light!



A noble church—The tomb of Titian—A painter-prince—A lost garden—Pomp and colour—A ceaseless learner—Canova—Bellini's altar-piece—The Pesaro Madonna—The Frari cat—Tombs vulgar and otherwise—Francesco Foscari—Niccolo Tron's beard.

From S. Rocco to the Frari is but a step, and plenty of assistance in taking that step will be offered you by small boys.

Outside, the Frari—whose full title is Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari—is worth more attention than it wins. At the first glance it is a barn built of millions of bricks; but if you give it time it grows into a most beautiful Gothic church with lovely details, such as the corbelling under the eaves, the borders of the circular windows, and still more delightful borders of the long windows, and so forth; while its campanile is magnificent. In size alone the Frari is worthy of all respect, and its age is above five centuries. It shares with SS. Giovanni e Paolo the duty of providing Venice with a Westminster Abbey, for between them they preserve most of the illustrious dead.

Within, it is a gay light church with fine sombre choir stalls. Next to S. Stefano, it is the most cheerful church in Venice, and one should often be there. Nothing is easier than to frequent it, for it is close to the S. Toma steamboat station, and every visit will discover a new charm.

The most cherished possession of the Frari is, I suppose, the tomb of Titian. It is not a very fine monument, dating from as late as 1852, but it marks reverently the resting-place of the great man. He sits there, the old painter, with a laurel crown. Behind him is a relief of his "Assumption", now in the Accademia; above is the lion of Venice. Titian's work is to be seen throughout Venice, either in fact or in influence, and all the great cities of the world have some superb creation from his hand, London being peculiarly fortunate in the possession of his "Bacchus and Ariadne". Standing before the grave of this tireless maker of beauty, let us recall the story of his life. Titian, as we call him—Tiziano Vecellio, or Vecelli, or Tiziano da Cadore, as he was called by his contemporaries—was born in Cadore, a Venetian province. The year of his birth varies according to the biographer. Some say 1477, some 1480, some 1487 or even 1489 and 1490. Be that as it may, he was born in Cadore, the son of a soldier and councillor, Gregorio Vecelli. As a child he was sent to Venice and placed under art teachers, one of whom was Gentile Bellini, and one Giovanni Bellini, in whose studio he found Giorgione. And it is here that his age becomes important, because if he was born in 1477 he was Giorgione's contemporary as a scholar; if ten years later he was much his junior. In either case there is no doubt that Giorgione's influence was very powerful. On Titian's death in 1576 he was thought to be ninety-nine.

One of Titian's earliest known works is the visitation of S. Mary and S. Elizabeth, in the Accademia. In 1507 he helped Giorgione with the Fondaco dei Tedeschi frescoes. In 1511 he went to Padua. In 1512 he obtained a sinecure in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi and was appointed a State artist, his first task being the completion of certain pictures left unfinished by his predecessor Giovanni Bellini, and in 1516 he was put in possession of a patent granting him a painting monopoly, with a salary of 120 crowns and 80 crowns in addition for the portrait of each successive Doge. Thereafter his career was one long triumph and his brush was sought by foreign kings and princes as well as the aristocracy of Venice. Honours were showered upon him at home and abroad, and Charles V made him a Count and ennobled his progeny. He married and had many children, his favourite being, as with Tintoretto, a daughter, whose early death left him, again as with Tintoretto, inconsolable. He made large sums and spent large sums, and his house was the scene of splendid entertainments. It still stands, not far from the Jesuits' church, but it is now the centre of a slum, and his large garden, which extended to the lagoon where the Fondamenta Nuovo now is, has been built over.

Titian's place in art is high and unassailable. What it would have been in colour without Giorgione we cannot say; but Giorgione could not affect his draughtsmanship. As it is, the word Titianesque means everything that is rich and glorious in paint. The Venetians, with their ostentation, love of pageantry, and intense pride in their city and themselves, could not have had a painter more to their taste. Had Giorgione lived he would have disappointed them by his preoccupation with romantic dreams; Bellini no doubt did disappoint them by a certain simplicity and divinity; Tintoretto was stern and sparing of gorgeous hues. But Titian was all for sumptuousness.

Not much is known of his inner life. He seems to have been over-quick to suspect a successful rival, and his treatment of the young Tintoretto, if the story is true, is not admirable. He was more friendly with Aretino than one would expect an adorner of altars to be. His love of money grew steadily stronger. As an artist he was a pattern, for he was never satisfied with his work but continually experimented and sought for new secrets, and although quite old when he met Michael Angelo in Rome he returned with renewed ambitions. Among his last words, on his death-bed, were that he was at last almost ready to begin.

As it happens, it is the pyramidal tomb opposite Titian's that was designed to hold his remains. It is now the tomb of Canova. Why it was not put to its maker's purpose, I do not know, but to my mind it is a far finer thing than the Titian monument and worthier of Titian than of Canova, as indeed Canova would have been the first to admit. But there was some hitch, and the design was laid in a drawer and not taken out again until Canova died and certain of his pupils completed it for himself. Canova was not a Venetian by birth. He was born at Passagno, near Asolo, in 1757, and was taught the elements of art by his grandfather and afterwards by a sculptor named Torretto, who recommended him to the Falier family as a "phenomenon". The Faliers made him their protege, continued his education in Venice, and when the time was ripe sent him to Rome, the sculptors' Mecca. In Rome he remained practically to the end of his life, returning to Venice to die in 1822. It is possible not too highly to esteem Canova's works, but the man's career was marked by splendid qualities of industry and purpose and he won every worldly honour. In private life he practised unremittingly that benevolence and philanthropy which many Italians have brought to a fine art.

It is these two tombs which draw most visitors to the Frari; but there are two pictures here that are a more precious artistic possession. Of these let us look first at Bellini's altar-piece in the Sacristy. This work represents the Madonna enthroned, about her being saints and the little angelic musicians of whom Bellini was so fond. In this work these musicians are younger than usual; one pipes while the other has a mandolin. Above them is the Madonna, grave and sweet, with a resolute little Son standing on her knee. The venerable holy men on either side have all Bellini's suave benignancy and incapacity for sin: celestial grandfathers. The whole is set in a very splendid frame. I give a reproduction opposite page 252, but the colour cannot be suggested.

The other great Frari picture—stronger than this but not more attractive—is the famous Titian altar-piece, the "Pesaro Madonna". This is an altar-piece indeed, and in it unite with peculiar success the world and the spirit. The picture was painted for Jacopo Pesaro, a member of a family closely associated with this church, as the tombs will show us. Jacopo, known as "Baffo," is the kneeling figure, and, as his tonsure indicates, a man of God. He was in fact Bishop of Paphos in Cyprus, and being of the church militant he had in 1501 commanded the Papal fleet against the Turks. The expedition was triumphant enough to lead the Bishop to commission Titian to paint two pictures commemorating it. In the first the Pope, Alexander Borgia, in full canonicals, standing, introduces Baffo, kneeling, to S. Peter, on the eve of starting with the ships to chastise the Infidel. S. Peter blesses him and the Papal standard which he grasps. In the second, the picture at which we are now looking (see the reproduction opposite page 246), Baffo again kneels to S. Peter, while behind him a soldier in armour (who might be S. George and might merely be a Venetian warrior and a portrait) exhibits a captured Turk. Above S. Peter is the Madonna, with one of Titian's most adorable and vigorous Babes. Beside her are S. Francis and S. Anthony of Padua, S. Francis being the speaking brother who seems to be saying much good of the intrepid but by no means over-modest Baffo. The other kneeling figures are various Pesari. Everything about the picture is masterly and aristocratic, and S. Peter yields to no other old man in Venetian art, which so valued and respected age, in dignity and grandeur. In the clouds above all are two outrageously plump cherubs—fat as butter, as we say—sporting (it is the only word) with the cross.

As I sat one day looking at this picture, a small grey and white cat sprang on my knee from nowhere and immediately sank into a profound slumber from which I hesitated to wake it. Such ingratiating acts are not common in Venice, where animals are scarce and all dogs must be muzzled. Whether or not the spirit of Titian had instructed the little creature to keep me there, I cannot say, but the result was that I sat for a quarter of an hour before the altar without a movement, so that every particular of the painting is photographed on my retina. Six months later the same cat led me to a courtyard opposite the Sacristy door and proudly exhibited three kittens.

Jacopo Pesaro's tomb is near the Baptistery. The enormous and repellent tomb on the same wall as the Titian altar-piece is that of a later Pesaro, Giovanni, an unimportant Doge of Venice for less than a year, 1658-1659. It has grotesque details, including a camel, giant negroes and skeletons, and it was designed by the architect of S. Maria della Salute, who ought to have known better. The Doge himself is not unlike the author of a secretly published English novel entitled The Woman Thou Gavest Me.

As a gentle contrast look at the wall tomb of a bishop on the right of the Pesaro picture. The old priest lies on his bier resting his head on his hand and gazing for ever at the choir screen and stalls. It is one of the simplest and most satisfactory tombs in this church.

But it is in the right transept, about the Sacristy door, that the best tombs cluster, and here also, in the end chapel, is another picture, by an early Muranese painter of whom we have seen far too little, Bartolommeo Vivarini, who is credited with having produced the first oil picture ever seen in Venice. His Frari altar-piece undoubtedly had influence on the Bellini in the Sacristy, but it is less beautiful, although possibly a deeper sincerity informs it. Other musicianly angels are here, and this time they make their melody to S. Mark. In the next chapel are some pretty and cool grey and blue tombs.

Chief of the tombs in this corner is the fine monument to Jacopo Marcello, the admiral. This lovely thing is one of the most Florentine sculptures in Venice; above is a delicate fresco record of the hero's triumphs. Near by is the monument of Pacifico Bon, the architect of the Frari, with a Florentine relief of the Baptism of Christ in terra-cotta, a little too high to be seen well. The wooden equestrian figure of Paolo Savello, an early work, is very attractive. In his red cap he rides with a fine assurance and is the best horseman in Venice after the great Colleoni.

In the choir, where Titian's "Assumption" once was placed, are two more dead Doges. On the right is Francesco Foscari, who reigned from 1423-1457, and is one of the two Foscari (his son being the other) of Byron's drama. Francesco Foscari, whom we know so well by reason of his position in the relief on the Piazzetta facade of the Doges' Palace, and again on the Porta della Carta, was unique among the Doges both in the beginning and end of his reign. He was the first to be introduced to the populace in the new phrase "This is your Doge," instead of "This is your Doge, an it please you," and the first to quit the ducal throne not by death but deposition. But in many of the intervening thirty-four years he reigned with brilliance and liberality and encouraged the arts. His fall was due to the political folly of his son Jacopo and the unpopularity of a struggle with Milan. He died in the famous Foscari palace on the Grand Canal and, in spite of his recent degradation, was given a Doge's funeral.

The other Doge here, who has the more ambitious tomb, is Niccolo Tron (1471-1473) who was before all a successful merchant. Foscari, it will be noticed, is clean shaven; Tron bearded; and to this beard belongs a story, for on losing a dearly loved son he refused ever after to have it cut and carried it to the grave as a sign of his grief.

The Sacristy is, of course, chiefly the casket that contains the Bellini jewel, but it has other possessions, including the "Stations of the Cross" by Tiepolo, which the sacristan is far more eager to display: a brilliant but fatiguing series. Here, too, are a "Crucifixion" and "Deposition" by Canova. A nice ciborium by the door and a quaint wooden block remain in my memory.

For the rest, I recall a gaunt Baptist in wood, said to be by Donatello, on one of the altars to the left of the choir; and the bronze Baptist in the Baptistery, less realistic, by Sansovino; the pretty figures of Innocence and S. Anthony of Padua on the holy water basins just inside the main door; and the corners of delectable medieval cities in intarsia work on the stalls.

And, after the details and before them, there is always the great pleasant church, with its coloured beams and noble spaces.



A noble statue—Bartolommeo Colleoni—Verrocchio—A Dominican church—Mocenigo Doges—The tortured Bragadino—The Valier monument—Leonardo Loredano—Sebastian Venier—The Chapel of the Rosary—Sansovino—An American eulogy—Michele Steno—Tommaso Mocenigo—A brave re-builder—The Scuola di S. Marco.

It is important to reach SS. Giovanni e Paolo by gondola, because the canals are particularly fascinating between this point and, say, the Molo. If one embarks at the Molo (which is the habit of most visitors), the gondolier takes you up the Rio Palazzo, under the Ponte di Paglia and the Bridge of Sighs, past the superb side walls of the Ducal Palace; then to the right, with relics of fine architecture on either side, up the winding Rio di S. Maria Formosa, and then to the right again into the Rio di S. Marina and the Rio dei Mendicanti (where a dyer makes the water all kinds of colours). A few yards up this canal you pass the Fondamenta Dandolo on the right, at the corner of which the most commanding equestrian statue in the world breaks on your vision, behind it rising the vast bulk of the church. All these little canals have palaces of their own, not less beautiful than those of the Grand Canal but more difficult to see.

Before entering the church—and again after coming from it—let us look at the Colleoni. It is generally agreed that this is the finest horse and horseman ever cast in bronze; and it is a surprise to me that South Kensington has no reproduction of it, as the Trocadero in Paris has. Warrior and steed equally are splendid; they are magnificent and they are war. The only really competitive statue is that of Gattamalata (who was Colleoni's commander) by Donatello at Padua; but personally I think this the finer.

Bartolommeo Colleoni was born in 1400, at Bergamo, of fighting stock, and his early years were stained with blood. The boy was still very young when he saw his father's castle besieged by Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, and his father killed. On becoming himself a condottiere, he joined the Venetians, who were then busy in the field, and against the Milanese naturally fought with peculiar ardour. But on the declaration of peace in 1441 he forgot his ancient hostility, and in the desire for more battle assisted the Milanese in their campaigns. Fighting was meat and drink to him. Seven years later he returned to the Venetians, expecting to be appointed Captain-General of the Republic's forces, but failing in this wish he put his arm again at the service of the Milanese. A little later, however, Venice afforded him the coveted honour, and for the rest of his life he was true to her, although when she was miserably at peace he did not refrain from a little strife on his own account, to keep his hand in. Venice gave him not only honours and money but much land, and he divided his old age between agriculture and—thus becoming still more the darling of the populace—almsgiving.

Colleoni died in 1475 and left a large part of his fortune to the Republic to be spent in the war with the Turks, and a little for a statue in the Piazza of S. Mark. But the rules against statues being erected there being adamant, the site was changed to the campo of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, and Andrea Verrocchio was brought from Florence to prepare the group. He began it in 1479 and died while still working on it, leaving word that his pupil, Lorenzo di Credi, should complete it. Di Credi, however, was discouraged by the authorities, and the task was given to Alessandro Leopardi (who made the sockets for the three flagstaffs opposite S. Mark's), and it is his name which is inscribed on the statue. But to Verrocchio the real honour.

Among the Colleoni statue's great admirers was Robert Browning, who never tired of telling the story of the hero to those unacquainted with it.

The vast church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo does for the Dominicans what the Frari does for the Franciscans; the two churches being the Venetian equivalents of Florence's S. Maria Novella and Santa Croce. Like too many of the church facades of Venice, this one is unfinished and probably ever will be. Unlike the Frari, to which it has a general resemblance, the church of John and Paul is domed; or rather it possesses a dome, with golden balls upon its cupola like those of S. Mark. Within, it is light and immense but far inferior in charm to its great red rival. It may contain no Titian's ashes, but both Giovanni and Gentile Bellini lie here; and its forty-six Doges give it a cachet. We come at once to two of them, for on the outside wall are the tombs of Doge Jacopo Tiepolo, who gave the land for the church, and of his son, Doge Lorenzo Tiepolo.

Just within we find Alvise Mocenigo (1570-1577) who was on the throne when Venice was swept by the plague in which Titian died, and who offered the church of the Redentore on the Guidecca as a bribe to Heaven to stop the pestilence. Close by lie his predecessors and ancestors, Pietro Mocenigo, the admiral, and Giovanni Mocenigo, his brother, whose reign (1478-1485) was peculiarly belligerent and witnessed the great fire which destroyed so many treasures in the Ducal Palace. What he was like you may see in the picture numbered 750 in our National Gallery, once given to Carpaccio, then to Lorenzo Bastiani, and now to the school of Gentile Bellini. In this work the Doge kneels to the Virgin and implores intercession for the plague-stricken city. Pietro's monument is the most splendid, with a number of statues by Pietro Lombardi, architect of the Ducal Palace after the same fire. S. Christopher is among these figures, with a nice little Christ holding on to his ear.

In the right aisle we find the monument of Bragadino, a Venetian commander who, on the fall of Cyprus, which he had been defending against the Turks, was flayed alive. But this was not all the punishment put upon him by the Turks for daring to hold out so long. First his nose and ears were cut off; then for some days he was made to work like the lowest labourer. Then came the flaying, after which his skin was stuffed with straw and fastened as a figure-head to the Turkish admiral's prow on his triumphant return to Constantinople. For years the trophy was kept in the arsenal of that city, but it was removed by some means or other, purchase or theft, and now reposes in the tomb at which we are looking. This monument greatly affected old Coryat. "Truly," he says, "I could not read it with dry eyes."

Farther on is the pretentious Valier monument, a triumph of bad taste. Here we see Doge Bertucci Valier (1656-1658) with his courtly abundant dame, and Doge Silvestro Valier (1694-1700), all proud and foolish in death, as I feel sure they must have been in life to have commissioned such a memorial. In the choir are more Doges, some of sterner stuff: Michele Morosini (1382), who after only a few months was killed by a visitation of the plague, which carried off also twenty thousand more ordinary Venetians, but who has a tomb of great distinction worthy of commemorating a full and sagacious reign; Leonardo Loredan (1501-1521) whose features we know so well by reason of Bellini's portrait in the National Gallery, the Doge on the throne when the League of Cambray was formed by the Powers to crush the Republic; and Andrea Vendramini (1476-1478) who has the most beautiful monument of all, the work of Tullio and Antonio Lombardi. Vendramini, who came between Pietro and Giovanni Mocenigo, had a brief and bellicose reign. Lastly here lies Doge Marco Corner (1365-1368), who made little history, but was a fine character.

In the left transept we find warlike metal, for here is the modern statue of the great Sebastian Venier whom we have already seen in the Ducal Palace as the hero of the battle of Lepanto in 1571, and it is peculiarly fitting that he should be honoured in the same church as the luckless Bragadino, for it was at Lepanto that the Turks who had triumphed at Cyprus and behaved so vilely were for the moment utterly defeated. On the death of Alvise Mocenigo, Venier was made Doge, at the age of eighty, but he occupied the throne only for a year and his end was hastened by grief at another of those disastrous fires, in 1576, which destroyed some of the finest pictures that the world then contained. This statue is vigorous, and one feels that it is true to life, but for the old admiral at his finest and most vivid you must go to Vienna, where Tintoretto's superb and magnificent portrait of him is preserved. There he stands, the old sea dog, in his armour, but bare-headed, and through a window you see the Venetian fleet riding on a blue sea. It is one of the greatest portraits in the world and it ought to be in Venice.

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