A Wanderer in Venice eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about A Wanderer in Venice.

[Illustration:  THE MADONNA TRIPTYCH BY GIOVANNI BELLINI In the Church of the Frari]

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.

CHAPTER XXIV

SS.  GIOVANNI E PAOLO

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

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A Wanderer in Venice from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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