Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State.David Rosand. Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State.
(Bettie Allison Rand Lectures in Art History.) Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press The University of North Carolina Press (or UNC Press), founded in 1922, is a university press that is part of the University of North Carolina. External link
David Rosand's subject is not so much myths of Venice as it is the Myth of Venice as we find this expressed in its magnificent art. The term "myth" is one calculated to cause discomfiture among historians, rightly alert to the discrepancies between the lofty ideals celebrated in political panegyric panegyric
Eulogistic oration or laudatory discourse. The panegyric originally was a speech delivered at an ancient Greek general assembly (panegyris), such as the Olympic and Panathenaic festivals. and the baser realities of human societies in action. It is not the least of Rosand's many virtues never to lose sight of the fact that the myths societies create for themselves constitute very powerful realities; and that the works of art celebrating these beliefs are tangible manifestations of cultural realities that the Venetians claimed equivalent to the honor of the city. (Equating culture with civic honor, also claimed by Lorenzo de' Medici Lorenzo de' Medici. For the members of the Medici family thus named, use Medici, Lorenzo de'. for Florence, is a fundamental Renaissance idea.) And it is no accident that Titian or Veronese are more famous today than all the Doges of Venice The following is a list of all 120 of the Doges of Venice ordered by the dates of their reigns which are put in parentheses.
For more than 1,000 years, the chief magistrate and leader of the city of Venice and later of the Most Serene Republic of Venice was styled the , because the ethos of Venice as realized in their very achievement, whatever the subject matter of particular paintings, stil l lives, long after the Venetian empire, its merchants and navies, have melted into oblivion. The achievement of Venetian art needs no apologist, though Rosand writes very well about it. His concern, however, is with the myth of Venice as subject matter, and with the means for configuring the political ideals of the Serenissima in art. Rosand is an excellent and experienced guide, reliable and eminently readable, for whom the history of Venice Venice is a city in Italy. It was also an independent republic from the late 8th century to 1792.
In characterizing the fluid associations and complex interplay of meanings central to the idea of Venice (among them the Virgin and St. Mark, Wisdom, Justice, and Peace), Rosand coins the term "iconographic slippage" to characterize the ways in which attributes proper to one term tend to be subsumed into another. An example is the image of the lion, which taken alone stands for St. Mark, the city's patron, and so can also stand for Venice itself In the biblical book of Wisdom, Divine Wisdom is personified seated on the lion-throne of Solomon, and lions flanking a throne thus signify her. In Jacobello del Fiore's 1421 triptych for the judges of the Magistrato del Proprio, Justice appears with her familiar attributes of the sword and scales sword and scales
attributes of St. Michael as devil-fighter and judge. [Christian Symbolism: Appleton, 98]
See : Justice . But she is enthroned Enthroned was formed in Charleroi in 1993 by Cernunnos. He soon recruited guitarist Tsebaoth and a vocalist from a local Grind/Black band Hecate who stayed until the end of december 1993. Then bassist/vocalist Sabathan joined. between two live lions, and so with perfect clarity assimilates into herself the concepts of Wisdom and Venice. Biblical exegesis equates Divine Wisdom and the Virgin, and Jacobello depicted the Archangel Gabriel with Madonna lilies and a scroll to the right of Justice (who is crowned like the Queen of Heaven), and gesturing in greeting (Ave). This inevitably evokes Venice's other patron, for the city had been founded on the feast of the Annunciation. To relate this is cumbersome, but in the image itself the concepts of Justice founded in Divine Wisdom, the Virgin, St. Mark, and of course Venice herself, are seamlessly joined and instantly apprehensible.
The book is in four chapters, devoted to the legendary birth of Venice, to the Peace of St. Mark, the Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom of Solomon or Wisdom, early Jewish book included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible. The book opens with an exhortation to seek wisdom, followed by a statement on worldly attitudes. , and the assimilation of the Olympian gods, each chapter skillfully elucidating central components that together define the Venetian myth. As the argument unfolds, we are given clear expositions of the most important public displays of Renaissance art in Venice, among them the sculptures decorating the Ducal Palace, the paintings by Veronese and Tintoretto (and others) in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, Tintoretto's in the Sala dell'Anticollegio, Jacopo Sansovino's sculptures for the choir of San Marco, the Scala dei Giganti, and the Loggetta di San Marco, not to mention Bellini and Tintoretto's paintings for the Scuola di San Marco and Titian's Presentation of the Virgin for the Scuola Grande di Sta. Maria della Carita. Rosand's inherent scholarly good taste is impeccable throughout, and his ability to present complex and highly textured arguments in transparently lucid prose is enviable. I might add that the University of North Carolina Press is marketing his book for adoption in undergraduate courses, and I can imagine no better or more enjoyable an introduction to Venice and its art.
This is far from saying that Rosand's book is only for undergraduates. As I said at the outset, it is a work of methodological sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. . On this point I will end with one small demurral de·mur·ral
The act of demurring, especially a mild, polite, or considered expression of opposition.
Noun 1. demurral - (law) a formal objection to an opponent's pleadings
demur, demurrer . Rosand's concept of "iconographical slippage" seems to me misleading for implying that meaning in the arts is normally stable, or should be. As his own irrefutable exegeses make clear, images have the ability to change in coloring in different contexts, to be inflected in·flect
v. in·flect·ed, in·flect·ing, in·flects
1. To alter (the voice) in tone or pitch; modulate.
2. Grammar To alter (a word) by inflection.
3. by other images even while retaining expressive communicability and clarity. This is not a slippage in meaning, but rather amplification, making use of what the rhetoricians called figurative speech, allegorical and metonymical in its forms. Veronese's personified Venice is an allegorical figure, the scepter she holds a meronym Noun 1. meronym - a word that names a part of a larger whole; "`brim' and `crown' are meronyms of `hat'"
word - a unit of language that native speakers can identify; "words are the blocks from which sentences are made"; "he hardly said ten words for her sovereignty and authority, just as the lion is a metonym met·o·nym
A word used in metonymy.
[Back-formation from metonymy.]
Noun 1. for St. Mark and for Venice. Altobello's allegory of Justice presents her as a synecdoche synecdoche (sĭnĕk`dəkē), figure of speech, a species of metaphor, in which a part of a person or thing is used to designate the whole—thus, "The house was built by 40 hands" for "The house was built by 20 people." See metonymy. for the encompassing concept of Divine Wisdom that is the source for Venice' s laws. Venice is Venus by paronomasia, and Venus, whose beauty was born of the sea, is also a metaphor for Venice. None of this is "iconographic slippage," but rather finely calculated allusiveness and expansion of meaning, and it is the foundation for the great rhetorical cycles painted in Rome and Paris in the centuries to come.