Although a sick man when a year or so later a strong hand was again needed in the Morea, the Doge once more volunteered and sailed from the Lido with the fleet. But he was too old and too infirm, and he died in Nauplia in 1694. Venice was proud of him, and with reason; for he won back territory for her (although she was not able to keep it), and he loved her with a pure flame. But he was behind his time: he was an iron ruler, and iron rule was out of date. The new way was compromise and pleasure.
The marble lions that now guard the gate of the Arsenal were saved and brought home by Morosoni, as his great fighting ducal predecessor Enrico Dandolo had in his day of triumph brought trophies from Constantinople. The careers of the two men are not dissimilar; but Morosoni was a child beside Dandolo, for at his death he was but seventy-six.
The campo in front of S. Stefano bears Morosoni’s name, but the statue in the midst is not that of General Booth, as the English visitor might think, but of Niccolo Tommaseo (1802-1874), patriot and author and the ally of Daniele Manin. This was once a popular arena for bull-fights, but there has not been one in Venice for more than a hundred years.
Morosoni’s palace, once famous for its pictures, is the palace on the left (No. 2802) as we leave the church for the Accademia bridge. Opposite is another ancient palace, now a scholastic establishment with a fine Neptune knocker. Farther down on the left is a tiny campo, across which is the vast Palazzo Pisani, a very good example of the decay of Venice, for it is now a thousand offices and a conservatory of music.
Outside S. Vitale I met, in the space of one minute, two red-haired girls, after seeking the type in vain for days; and again I lost it. But certain artists, when painting in Venice, seem to see little else.
And now, being close to the iron bridge which leads to the door of the Accademia, let us see some pictures.
THE ACCADEMIA. I: TITIAN, TINTORETTO, AND PAUL VERONESE
The important rooms—Venetian art in London—The ceiling of the thousand wings—Some early painters—Titian’s “Assumption”—Tintoretto’s “Miracle of S. Mark”—A triumph of novelty—The Campanile miracle—Altar-pieces—Paul Veronese—Leonardo drawings—Indifferent works—Jesus in the house of Levi—A painter on his trial—Other Tintorettos—Another miracle of S. Mark—Titian’s last painting.
The Accademia, which is to Venice what the National Gallery is to London, the Louvre to Paris, and the Uffizi to Florence, is, I may say, at once, as a whole a disappointment; and my advice to visitors is to disregard much of it absolutely.
The reasons why Rooms II, IV, IX, X, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX and XX alone are important are two. One is that so wide a gulf is fixed between the best Venetian painters—Bellini, Titian, Carpaccio, Giorgione (but he is not represented here), Palma, Tintoretto, Veronese, and the next best; and the other, that Venetian painting of the second order is rarely interesting. In the Tuscan school an effort to do something authentic or arresting persists even to the fifth and sixth rank of painter; but not so here.