Column with lion of St Mark, column with St Theodore, the Library facade behind and S. M. della Salute across Canal
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Column with lion of St Mark, column with St Theodore, the Library facade behind and S. M. della Salute across Canal 1860s
This photograph was taken in front of the Doge’s Palace in the heart of Venice and shows the sixteenth-century Bibliotheca Marciana that stands opposite. Both buildings face onto a small rectangular square that is open on one side to the mouth of the Grand Canal, to the left of the large Byzantine columns. These columns, erected in 1180, traditionally formed the official ‘gate’ from the Canal into Venice. The sculptures on the columns represent Venice’s two patron saints: the winged lion of St Mark and a statue of St Theodore. The latter became a martyr after having been killed for burning down a pagan temple. He stands on a crocodile that represents a pagan god associated with the temple he destroyed.

Glossary Open

Byzantine art

Artistic style that developed in the eastern Mediterranean under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and spread beyond its boundaries to other parts of the Christian world. It moved away from classical naturalistic figures to flat frontal figures and is best seen in mosaics and icons.

Martyrdom

Death due to a person's adherence to a religious faith. It is also used to describe prolonged or extreme suffering of any kind.

Byzantine art, Martyrdom

Details

  • Acc. No. PGP R 758
  • Medium Albumen
  • Size 31.5 x 25.3 cm
  • Credit Gift of Mrs. Riddell in memory of Peter Fletcher Riddell, 1985