Before leaving this room one should give the ceiling a little attention, for it is splendid in its lovely blue and gold, and its coloured carvings are amusing. The four Evangelists have each a medallion. All are studious. S. Matthew, on the upper left as one stands with one’s back to the Titian, has an open-air study, and he makes notes as he reads. His eagle is in attendance. S. Mark, with his lion at ease under his chair, has also his open-air desk, and as he reads he thinks. S. John is indoors, reading intently, with a box full of books to fall back on, and a little angel peeping at him from behind his chair. Finally S. Luke, also indoors, writing at a nice blue desk. He holds his pen very daintily and seems to be working against time, for an hour-glass is before him. His bull is also present. Among the many good ceilings of Venice, this is at once the most sumptuous and most charming.
THE CANALE DI S. MARCO AND S. GIORGIO MAGGIORE
Busy water—The lantern concerts—Venice and modern inventions—Fireworks in perfection—S. Giorgio Maggiore—Palladian architecture—Two Tintorettos—The Life of S. Benedict—Realistic wood-carving—A Giudecca garden—The Redentore—A bridge of boats—A regatta—The view from the Giudecca—House-hunting in Venice.
Strictly speaking, the Grand Canal and the Canal of the Guidecca unite in the lagoon; but the stretch of water between the Molo and S. Giorgio is called the Canale di San Marco. It is the busiest water of all. Every little steamer crosses it; motor-boats here are always at full speed; most of the gondolas which are hired start from here; the great mercantile boats cross it on their way in and out of harbours; and the daily invaders from Trieste disembark and embark again in the very middle. Hence it is always a scene of gay and sparkling movement and always more like a Guardi than any other spot in Venice.
It is just off the Custom House point, at night, that in the summer the concert barges are moored, each with its little party of musicians, its cluster of Venetian lanterns, arranged rather like paper travesties of the golden balls over S. Mark’s domes, and its crowded circle of gondolas, each like a dark private box for two. Now what more can honeymooners ask? For it is chiefly for honeymooners that this is done, since Venetians do not spend money to sit in stationary boats. These concerts are popular, but they are too self-conscious. Moreover, the songs are from all countries, even America; whereas purely Venetian, or at any rate Italian, operatic music should, I think, be given. The stray snatches of song which one hears at night from the hotel window; gondoliers trolling out folk choruses; the notes of a distant mandolin, brought down on the water—these make the true music of Venice.