2 thoughts on “Comments on Blue Guide Venice

  1. Ruskin / SS Giovanni and Paolo

    Dear Blue Guide editors, I’m writing from Venice, which my wife and I have been visiting for the first time since 1995. We brought with us (cheap as we are) our copy of the BG-Venice from then (the 5th ed., 1994) figuring that change comes slowly to Venice. As it happens, this visit (postponed for too long in any case) was prompted by my picking up a copy of Ruskin’s “The Stones of Venice,” and so that book was on my mind this week here in the city. I believe I found an error relating to Ruskin. Although I recognize that the error I found may have been corrected long ago, I thought I would bring it to your attention just in case no one had noticed it: On page 128, in the description of the interior of the Church of SS Giovanni and Paulo, the book states: “On the right wall is the Gothic *tomb (15) of Doge Michele Morosini (d. 1382), highly approved by Ruskin.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Ruskin, this is exactly opposite of the case. It’s the tomb of Doge Marco Cornaro, directly across the choir from the Morosini tomb, that Ruskin admires, and he despises the Morosini tomb for being “corrupt.” Here’s what he writes, in Section XV of Vol. 3 of Stones of Venice: “The date at which this corrupt form of Gothic first prevailed over the early simplicity of the Venetian types can be determined in an instant, on the steps of the choir of the Church of St. John and Paul. On our left hand, as we enter, is the tomb of the Doge Marco Cornaro, who died in 1367. It is rich and fully developed Gothic, with crockets and finials, but not yet attaining any extravagant development. Opposite to it is that of the Doge Andrea Morosini, who died in 1382. Its Gothic is voluptuous, and over-wrought; the crockets are bold and florid, and the enormous finial represents a statue of St. Michael. . . . every one of the Renaissance errors is here in complete development, though not so grossly as entirely to destroy the loveliness of the Gothic forms.” Apologies if this has already been corrected in later editions of the book, but I don’t have access to the latest edition at the moment and I thought I’d forget about this by the time I reached home. All the best, and w/ terrific admiration for the guides (and esp. the work of Alta Macadam).

    • Thanks for your message. I think that while change may come slowly to Venice, it comes more swiftly to the Blue Guides! Since the edition that you mention, much additional information has been added and the egregious error no longer appears. Here is what the guide now says about the two tombs: Tomb of Doge Michele Morosini: Ruskin felt that it was in the choir of Santi Giovanni e Paolo that one could see just how Venetian Gothic art deteriorated into a ‘voluptuous and over-wrought’ style which corrupted the simplicity of true Gothic. This monument, made less than 20 years after the previous tomb (the doge died in 1382), was for him a case in point and he complained about it bitterly, objecting to its elaborate tabernacle with statuettes in niches flanking the effigy of the doge as being too richly decorated and riddled with those ‘Renaissance errors’ that he was to spend much of his life denouncing. It has a mosaic Crucifixion probably by 15th-century Tuscan artists, and the carving is attributed to the Dalle Masegne workshop, run by the brothers Pier Paolo and Jacobello (and another Paolo, thought to be the son of Jacobello), who were very active in the city at the end of the 14th century. Tomb of Doge Marco Corner: Ruskin found the tomb of this doge (d. 1368) much to his taste; it has a very beautiful central Madonna, signed by Nino Pisano.

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