June 6, 2017

Venice in Relief (I)

        Here are a selection of relief block prints depicting the city of Venice, Italy.  As a famous and celebrated city for centuries, many many artists have made images of Venice and I couldn’t settle on just a few, so I have two posts’ worth of images for you.  Today’s range from the late fifteenth to early twenty-first centuries.
        Two early chronicles of world history go for the iconic views, understandably.  The earliest I have, from the Supplementum chronicarum of 1490, concentrates on the bustle on the water, with boats of all sizes going every which way.  The piazza is relatively uncrowded, with just a sprinkling of people who are so simplified they look like bollards.  I find them rather charming, like the Fisher Price peg people of my childhood.
        The city scenes in the Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493  are the equivalent of the photos in a geography textbook.  This view of Venice makes it very clear that it’s surrounded by water, and it includes lots of excellent detail on the layout and architecture of the city.  One of the magical things about Venice is just how recognizable the layout and architecture still are after 527 years!
        To focus in on some of that architecture, I have four images of Venetian palazzos by Santariello.  The first two would have been part of Venice already when those first views above were made!  In fact, entirely coincidentally, I seem to have arranged the four in chronological order.  I like their bold, clean simplicity that yet retains each building’s unique characteristics.
        This next piece evokes Venice’s crowdedness, with buildings everywhere.  I like the light and shadow, especially on the foreground arch and balustrades.  You wouldn’t know from looking at this view by Meshew that there’s water running through everything.
        By contrast, the next piece, by Frasconi, reminds us that Venice is all about the water, floating in the lagoon like a barge.  Unfortunataly this isn’t a very good image of the piece, but you can make out the reflections in the water, and I like the texture in the sky, as well.  I can’t see details well enough to be sure how many blocks and colors went into this image.  I’d guess four or five, depending on the paper color.
        And I’ll end with another canal view, by Marangoni.  This one once again features crowded architecture, but with no people visible at all.  I like the slightly irregular angles of things, and how the edges of the block are not straight.  
        That’s all for today, but tune in next time for the second half of the selection of relief block prints of Venice.

[Pictures: Venetiae Civitas Regia, wood block print from Supplementum chronicarum by Giacomo Filippo Foresti da Bergamo, 1490 illustration (Image from Lux & Umbra);
Venecie, wood block print from Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel, 1493 (Image from Wikimedia Commons);
4 linocuts of Venetian palazzos by Arianna Santariello (Images from Etsy shop PlumPlumCreations);
Rialto Bridge, Venice Italy, linoleum block print by Joanne Meshew (Image from Etsy shop 3StreetArt)
Midday scene, color woodcut by Antonio Frasconi from Venice Remembered, 1974 (Image from The Veatchs)
Venezia, Rio S. Andrea, wood block print by Tranquillo Marangoni, 1960 (Image from Marangoni web site).]

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