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Title: The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, vol. 06, No. 9, September 1900 - The Ducal Palace: Venice, Types of Italian Garden Fountains
Author: Various
Language: English
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                          THE BROCHURE SERIES
                       The Ducal Palace: Venice
                   Types of Italian Garden Fountains
                            SEPTEMBER, 1900


                            BROCHURE SERIES

                   1900.      SEPTEMBER      No. 9.

                       THE DUCAL PALACE: VENICE

"Considered as the principal representation of the Venetian school
of architecture, the Ducal Palace is the Parthenon of Venice," wrote
Ruskin. To know its history would be to know the entire history of
the Republic, for it was not alone the residence of her doges, but at
different epochs her senate-house, her court of justice, a prison, and
even a place of execution. Combining thus in one structure, as it does,
the greatest architectural and the greatest historical importance,
there is, perhaps, no more interesting monument now existing in the

In his suggestive work upon Italy, Taine has vividly described the
effect of a first sight of the Ducal Palace. "Like a magnificent jewel
in a brilliant setting, it effaces its surroundings," he writes.
"Never has like architecture been seen. All here is novel. You feel
yourself drawn out of the conventional; you realize that there is an
entire world outside the Classic or Gothic forms which we impose on
ourselves and endlessly repeat; that human invention is illimitable,
and that, like nature, it may break all the rules, and produce a
perfect work after a model opposed in every particular to that to which
we are instructed to conform. Every habit of the eye is reversed;
and, with surprise and delight, we here see oriental fancy grafting
the full on the empty instead of the empty on the full. A colonnade
of robust shafts bears a second and lighter one decorated with ogives
and trefoils, while upon this frail support expands a massive wall of
red and white marble, whose courses interlace in designs and reflect
the light. Above, a cornice of open pyramids, pinnacles, spiracles
and festoons intersects the sky with its border,--a marble vegetation
bristling and blooming above the vermilion and pearly tones of the

"You enter the courtyard, and immediately your eyes are filled with a
new richness. Nothing is bare or cold. Erudite and critical pedantry
has not here intervened, under the pretext of purity and correctness,
to restrain lively imagination and the craving for visual enjoyment.
The builders of Venice were not austere; they did not restrict
themselves to the prescriptions of books; they did not make up their
minds to yawn admiringly at a façade which had been sanctioned by
Vitruvious; they wanted an architectural work to delight their whole
sentient being. They decked it with ornaments, columns and statues,
they rendered it luxurious and joyous. They placed colossal pagans like
Mars and Neptune on it, and flanked them with biblical figures like
Adam and Eve; the sculptors of the fifteenth century enlivened it with
their lank realistic effigies, and those of the sixteenth with their
animated and muscular statues.


"You mount the princely steps with a sort of timidity and respect,
ashamed of the dull black coat you wear, and reminded by contrast of
the embroidered silk robes, the pompous sweeping dalmatics, the
Byzantine tiaras and brodekins,--all that seigniorial magnificence for
which these marble stairways were designed. All the genius of the city
at its brightest period assembled here to glorify imperial Venice in
the erection of a memorial of her victories and an apotheosis of her


The history of the construction of the Palace is obscure and
confusing,--a bald array of senatorial decrees and dates. The original
Doges' Palace, probably a small fortified castle, was built early
in the ninth century, and in the troublous period of early Venetian
history was frequently burned and rebuilt. At the end of the twelfth
century Sebastiano Ziani restored and enlarged it. The present palace
was begun in 1300 by the building of the west façade, and was a slow
growth extending over nearly three centuries, the older building of
Ziani being gradually pulled down as room was required for the new
work. About 1309 the arcaded sea-front was begun; and the design then
adopted was accurately followed along the whole external façade.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century the façade had been carried
along the Piazzetta side as far as the tenth capital. At this point
the work seems to have remained stationary for some years, and a
considerable portion of Ziani's palace was still in existence. In
1422 a decree was passed that the new palace should be extended over
the site of Ziani's building; and in a few years the remainder of the
external façade was completed up to its juncture with the Church of St.
Mark. The Porta della Carta, which unites the Palace with the Church,
was added in 1439. The internal block in the great court, joining the
Porta della Carta to the east façade was built about 1462. In 1479
a fire consumed part of the fourteenth century buildings along the
east front, and this part was then rebuilt, mostly between 1480 and
1550. These, in brief, are the facts (for which we are indebted to the
account of Prof. J. H. Middleton) upon which historians have in general
come to agree, though there is still difference of opinion as to the
exact portions of the structure to which the various decrees refer.


An interesting theory concerning the design of the palace, and
incidentally a critical estimate of its architecture, has been given
us by Mr. George Edmund Street in his scholarly treatise upon "Brick
and Marble in the Middle Ages." "The whole design" he writes,
"is divided into three stages in height. The upper is nearly equal
to the united height of the two lower stages, and is faced entirely
with a delicate diaper of marble cut into small oblong pieces, which
look save in their texture and color, only too much like bricks. In
this marble-faced wall are pierced a number of windows with pointed
arches--the tracery of which has been taken out--and in or near the
centre of each façade is a much larger window and a balcony, which
look as though they had been subsequently inserted. The lowest stage
consists of a long and uniform arcade of very simple pointed arches
resting upon circular columns with elaborately carved capitals; these
columns have been shortened by some twenty inches of their old height
by the rise of the water and the consequent elevation of the pavement,
to the great damage of their effect. The intermediate stage is a
magnificent arcade supporting very vigorous tracery and divided from
the stages above and below it by large and pronounced lines of carved
and moulded string-courses.


"It is important to observe that up to the top of the second
string-course the whole of the architecture is of the very best kind
of Venetian pointed, and is, I believe, the very best and truest
specimen of Gothic architecture south of the Alps.

"Above this noble work comes the third stage; and I confess, to my
eye, with patent marks in every stone of which it is composed that it
was designed by some other hand than that which had been so successful
below. There is something quite chilling in the great waste of plain,
unbroken wall, coming above the extreme richness of the arcades which
support it; and moreover this placing of the richer work below and
the plainer above is so contrary, not only to all ordinary canons
of architecture, but just as much to the ordinary practice of the
Venetians, that I feel sure that the impression which I have had from
my first acquaintance with drawings of it is substantially correct;
viz., that the line at which alterations and additions have been made
is to be looked for rather in a _horizontal_ than in a _vertical_
direction; that in all probability, consequently, the builders of 1309
commenced with some portion of the sea-façade, and gradually carried on
the greater part of the building to the height of the two stages, as
we now see them, leaving the building finished in precisely the same
way as the corresponding halls at Padua and Vicenza--two stories in
height, with arcades covering the outer walls of the upper as well as
of the lower stage; and that when the council chamber was found to be
too small and larger rooms were required, another architect suggested
the advantage of obtaining them by raising an immense story above the
others and without destroying much of his predecessor's work providing
rooms on the most magnificent scale for the Doge and his council.


"No one can examine the building without seeing that there is, not only
in the detail but equally in the general design, a marked difference
between the two lower stages and the upper stage. In place of the
extreme boldness which marks every part of the former, we see mouldings
reduced in the latter to the smallest and meanest section possible; the
windows of the upper stage are badly designed, whilst the traceries of
the second stage are as fine as they can possibly be; the parapet too
is not equal in its design to any of the lower work, and crowns with
an insignificant grotesqueness the noble symmetry of the two lower
arcades; and finally the chequer-work of marble, which forms the whole
of the upper wall, is a mode of construction which I have not seen in
any early work, though it is seen in the Porta della Carta, and in
other late work.

"Such, then, is the Ducal Palace,--a building certainly in some
respects of almost unequalled beauty, but at the same time of unequal
merit; its first and second stages quite perfect in their bold and
nervous character, and, in the almost interminable succession of the
same beautiful features in shaft and arch and tracery, forming one of
the grandest proofs in the world of the exceeding value of perfect
regularity, and of a repetition of good features in architecture, when
it is possible to obtain it on a very large scale."

The whole Palace forms three sides of an unsymmetrical hollow square,
the back, or north side, abutting upon St. Mark's Church. The great
internal Court (Plate LXVII.) was begun at the end of the fifteenth
century, but then only partially completed. It is surrounded on the
south, east and west sides by Gothic arcades of very similar style to
those on the exterior. Even in the sixteenth century portion the same
main outline was followed, though the detail is different.

The entrance to the Courtyard, at the northwest angle adjoining St.
Mark's, is through the Porta della Carta (so called because official
notices were affixed to it), which was the last Gothic work added to
the Palace. Across the court and opposite this entrance is a very
beautiful staircase in the early-Renaissance style, built in the middle
of the fifteenth century by Antonio Ricci. It is called the "Giant's
Staircase" (Plate LXVIII.) from its two colossal and rather clumsy
statues of Neptune and Mars. Between these statues the doges stood to
be inaugurated.

Reached by this staircase is a second, the so-called "Golden Staircase"
(Plate LXIX.), which derives its name either from the fact that it
was formerly accessible only to those whose names were entered in the
"Golden Book"--a list of the Venetian nobility,--or from the richness
of its decoration, and this leads to the great apartments in the
interior. It was designed by Jacapo Sansovino, and completed in 1577.


Owing to a great fire which gutted a great part of the Palace in
1574, the internal appearance of the council chambers and the state
apartments of the doges was completely changed, and a splendid series
of early Paduan and Venetian paintings which adorned the walls of the
chief rooms was destroyed. The interiors were then redecorated with
their present magnificence, some idea of which may be gained from a
mere enumeration of those who shared in the work. As architects there
were Palladio, Sansovino, Scammozzi, Lombardi and Antonio da Ponte; as
sculptors and decorators Vittoria, Aspetti, Segala, Campagna, Bombarda
and di Silo; as painters Titian, Paul Veronese, Tintoret, Vivarini,
Palma, Tiepolo, and many others; so that each room became, as Ruskin
has said, "a colossal casket of priceless treasure."


It will, however, be unnecessary to describe in detail each apartment
illustrated by our engravings, even did space permit. Intended as
spacious audience chambers to afford dignified and magnificent
surroundings for the stately scenes which were to be enacted
within them, they are all enriched in the same general style, with
panelling, carving, and gilded mouldings of the later Renaissance; the
architectonic decorations being chiefly designed as a setting for the
multitude of noble pictures.

The largest and most important of these apartments is the Hall of the
Great Council (Plate LXX.), in which the entire body of the Venetian
nobility met to consider questions of state. This immense room is
fifty-five yards long, twenty-eight yards wide, and forty-seven
feet high. The greatest of the Venetian masters were employed upon
the ceiling; the entire east wall is occupied by Tintoretto's
"Paradise"--said to be the largest oil painting in the world--and the
walls are adorned with portraits of the doges and scenes from the
history of the republic.

In the Sala dello Scrutino or Voting Hall (Plate LXXI.), the forty-one
nobles were elected by whom the doges were afterwards chosen. Opposite
the entrance is a representation of the triumphal arch erected by the
senate in 1694 to commemorate the conquest of Morea.

The Sala del Senato (Plate LXXII.), was the hall in which the full
senate assembled in formal session. It is also called the Sala dei
Pregadi because originally notice was sent to each senator to _pregare_
or summon him to attend the meetings. Beyond this room, to the right
of the throne, is an ante-chamber to the private chapel of the doges.
A portion of the ceiling of this ante-chamber, executed in the
seventeenth century, is shown on page 139.

The Anticollegio (Plate LXXIII.), or waiting room for the ambassadors,
was designed by Scammozzi, and contains Paul Veronese's celebrated
painting, "The Rape of Europa."

The Anticollegio leads to the Sala del Collegio (Plate LXXIV.), in
which audiences were granted to foreign emissaries. On the raised
platform stood the Doge's throne, and in the stall-like seats around it
sat the state councillors.


[1] Other views of the exterior of the Ducal Palace will be
found in No. 1, 1895 and No. 12, 1898 of this Series.

                    A Change in The Brochure Series

 Beginning with the January issue for 1901, the first issue of its
 Seventh Volume, two changes will be made in THE BROCHURE SERIES.

 I. The magazine will be enlarged. Half as many full-page engravings
 and half as many illustrated text-pages as are included in the present
 issues will be added to each number.

 II. The price will be increased to $1.00 a year and to ten cents a

 In general conduct, purpose, and in the character of material
 presented the magazine will be unchanged.

 The Publishers are led to take this step because they believe that
 the magazine has a value and a field which are all its own, and that
 its value in that field will be increased by its enlargement. The
 value of the magazine in its present form is proved by the fact that
 its subscription list has shown a constant increase from the first
 number to the present time, and was never so large as it is now; and
 it is hoped and confidently believed that every present subscriber to
 THE BROCHURE will approve of the change, for the enlarged form will
 afford an opportunity to present more material, to present it more
 attractively, and to cover a wider field of interest.

                   Brochure Series Competition "P."

 In answer to inquiries regarding Competition "P," the details of which
 are announced on an advertising page of this issue, the editor begs
 to state that photographic prints of any size may be submitted. Small
 photographs, provided they are clear and well defined, can often be as
 successfully reproduced as large ones.


                   Types of Italian Garden Fountains

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN      VILLA MEDICI, ROME.]





                          Transcriber's Note:

Italics are indicated by _underscores_.

Small capitals have been rendered in full capitals.

Footnote is at the end of chapter.

A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, vol. 06, No. 9, September 1900 - The Ducal Palace: Venice, Types of Italian Garden Fountains" ***

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