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Here you can find most of my works, all 100% handmade. I hope you like them!
Arianna 

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Scala Contarini del Bovolo (Bovolo staircase)

Contarini del Bovolo Palace is a late Gothic building in San Marco district, near Campo Manin, overlooking the San Luca Canal.

The Palace, built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, was the home of the Contarini family of St. Peternian.

In 1499 Pietro Contarini, Marco Contarini and Giovanni Battista Contarini, senators of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, added the famous spiral staircase (“bovolo” means spiral in venetian): from that moment on the staircase gave its name not only to the palace but to the whole family, who was nicknamed Contarini “dal Bovolo”.

The staircase represents a perfect synthesis of different styles, with its Renaissance elements, the typical construction technique of Gothic style and the Venetian-Byzantine shape.

 

Initially the staircase had the only purpose of decorating the interior facade of the palace, to enhance the prestige and the popularity of the family.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the palace was purchased by Emery company. The company rented the palace to Arnoldo Marseille, who opened the hotel called “Maltese” in 1803, and that’s why the court of the palace is called “corte del Maltese” (Maltese court).

In 1859, from the lookout tower Wilhem Tempel, a German lithographer and amateur in astronomy, discovered a comet bearing its name.

The current owner placed in the back courtyard an important collection of venetian water wells, which frame the facade of the most imposing and prestigious spiral staircase in Venice.

From the mid-nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, the history of the Palace is linked to the events of assistance in Venice, until it becomes the headquarter of the IRE (Institution of Hospitality and Education), which administers the old people’s homes around the city.

 

Click here to see the watercolor “Scala Contarini del Bovolo (Bovolo staircase)” >

Sources
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Contarini_del_Bovolo
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contarini#Contarini_dal_Bovolo
http://www.scalacontarinidelbovolo.com
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Wilhelm_Tempel

Vogalonga 2017 – 43rd edition

Only three days to the 43rd edition of the Vogalonga here in Venice!

Vogalonga is a rowing regatta in the Italian city of Venice.

On November 11th, 1974 a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, had a race. They came up with an idea of non-competitive “race” in which any kind of rowing boat could participate, in the spirit of historical festivities. The first Vogalonga began the next year with the message to protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the swell damage they do to the historic city.

Participants gather in St Marks Basin in front of the ducal palace. The racecourse is scenic route 30 kilometers long along the various Venetian canals and historical buildings, and reach islands like Sant’Erasmo, Burano and Murano.

At the this first edition there were about 1.500 riders.

The following editions Vogalonga gradually increased consensus and participation, reaching over 8,000 members this year (absolute record), with regattas coming from around the world and with all kinds of rowing boats.

Each participant receives a commemorative medal and a certificate of participation.

Thanks to www.vogalonga.com

Festa della Sensa – Feast of the Ascension

Next Sunday it’s going to be the Feast of the Sensa here in Venice, and we’re going to celebrate this very special day. I’m going to tell you a couple of things about this venetian tradition.

The “Festa della Sensa” (Feast of the Sensa – in Italian “Ascension”) was a feast of the Republic of Venice, which coincided with the day of Ascension of Christ, the last chapter of his earthly life when, 40 days after his death and resurrection, he ascended to heaven his body to join his father.

The Sensa Feast commemorated two important events for the Republic of Venice.

The first being May 9, 1000, when the Doge Pietro II Orseolo rescued the denizens of Dalmatia imperiled by the Slavs. The aforementioned date marked the onset of Venetian extension in the Adriatic.

The second event is related to the peace treaty that doge Sebastiano Ziani, Pope Alexander lll and Emperor Federico Barbarossa in 1177 agreed to the Treaty of Venice which ended the long standing differences between the Pontificate and the Holy Roman Empire.

On the occasion of the Feast of the Sensa was held the ceremony of the Marriage of the Sea (in italian, Sposalizio del Mare), a ceremony symbolizing the maritime rule of Venice and its intimate relationship with the sea. Originally, there was a solemn procession of boats, guided by the Doge’s ship (from 1253 Bucintoro, the Venetian Venus Galea) coming out of the lagoon through the harbor entrance of Lido.

 
When the procession arrived in front of the church of San Nicolò, patron saint of the sailors, a prayer was prayed for calm and peaceful sea for all sailors. Finally, the doge and the other officians were aspersed with the holy water; the rest of the holy water was poured into the sea.

Every year the doge dropped a consecrated ring into the sea reciting: “We marry you, sea. In a sign of true and perpetual domination” (“Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii..”) declaring Venice and the sea indissolubly united, reiterating the possession of the Adriatic Sea.

According to the legend on which the myth of Venice is based, in 1177 Pope Alexander III would have conferred a character of sacredness on this ancient ceremony

The rites of the atonement of the sins to the sea date back to antiquity, like the one told by Herodotus, where Policrate, Samo’s tyrant, casts a precious ring into the sea to appease the gods, or like the one of Empress Sant’Elena, who casted a nail of the True Cross into the Adriatic Sea to ingratiate the winds.

According to various archaeological studies, the Venetian “Marriage of the sea” and the ceremony of the ring comes from an ancient pagan ritual that later the Church endorsed.

Since 1965, the city of Venice, on the occasion of the Ascension Day, organizes a story reminiscent of the ancient Marriage of the Sea.

The Mayor of the City of Venice presides over the ceremony on board of the “bissona” Serenissima, a special Venetian-style boat, characterized by rich decorations and thrust by eight rowers. After reaching the harbor entrance close to the church of San Nicolò del Lido, along with a boat parade, he throws the ring blessed by the patriarch of Venice into the sea.

The ceremony is accompanied by regattas where old traditional customs are worn.

Every year the city of Venice re-launches this celebration, which revives the millennial history of the Serenissima, its intimate relationship with the sea and the practice of Voga alla Veneta.

Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) in Torcello

Torcello is one of the oldest islands of the Venetian lagoon, north of Burano, in the middle of a salt marsh zone (clay soil lying areas which are periodically flooded by tides and which are fundamental for the health of the lagoon).

Torcello was very prosperous and densely populated since the first centuries of the Roman Empire, and it began its decline from the fifteenth century because of climate changes and continuous plagues, and also because of the predominance of Venice.

One of the two bridges of Torcello is the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge), that crosses the Maggiore Canal, the waterway that connects the historic center of Torcello with the lagoon. It goes back to the fifteenth century but recent archaeological investigations have established that its foundations are grafted onto pre-existing foundations, dated thirteenth century.

The origin of the name is uncertain. Some say that “Diavoli” (Devils) was the nickname of a local family who gave the bridge its name; other say the name comes from a legend about a Venetian girl, a witch and an Austrian soldier.

The legend says that the girl falls in love with a young officer during the Austrian invasion, but the union was disliked by her family, who send her away. One day the girl hears the news that the young lover has been murdered.

The girl returns to Venice and meets a witch, with whom she enters into a pact with the devil: the young Austrian in exchange for the souls of seven died prematurely Christians children.

The site of the exchange would be the Devil’s Bridge.


The two women reach the island and the girl crosses the bridge with a candle and a golden coin while the witch invokes the devil. The devil, as soon as he sees the girl, spits the key of space and time into the water taking the gold coin, making the young Austrian appear at the other side of the bridge.

The second half of the pact had to be the delivery of the seven souls on the Devil’s Bridge, scheduled for December 24th, but the witch was murdered before the exchange by a young man who wanted to save the souls of children.

Legend has it that from that December 24th onwards, every year the devil appears on the Devil’s Bridge to get his payment, in the form of a black cat.

The main feature of the Devil’s Bridge is its shape without railings, typical of the Venetian ancient bridges, and together with the Ponte Chiodo (Nail’s Bridge) in Cannaregio, it is the only one to preserve the ancient form.

Palazzo Dario, the cursed palace

A horrible fate has combined the stories of the owners of this beautiful building, so as to define it “cursed”.

Palazzo Dario (known as Ca’ Dario) is a palace overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.

It was built by Giovanni Dario, fascinated by the places and the enchanting landscape.

In 1479 Marietta, Giovanni’s daughter, committed suicide because of the economic failure of her husband Vincenzo Barbaro, who died stabbed. Even their son suffered a violent death, in fact he died in an ambush in Crete. These three deaths caused a sensation among the Venetians, who anagrammtized the inscription on the facade, turning “VRBIS GENIO IOANNES DARIVS” into “SVB RVINA INSIDIOSA GENERO“ (in Latin, “I generate under an insidious ruin”).

The descendants of the Barbaro family sold the villa to Arbit Abdoll, an Armenian merchant of precious stones, who ended up in ruins shortly after taking possession of the dwelling.

The Englishman Radon Brown met his fate in 1838 when he became the new owner of Ca’ Dario. In only four years he suffered a financial meltdown and his homosexual relationship was discovered: the scandal engulfed him so much that in 1842 he committed suicide in the palace together with his partner.

Fared no better the American Charles Briggs, who had to flee from Venice because of the continuous rumors about his homosexuality: he fled to Mexico, where his lover committed suicide.

In the early ‘900 Ca’ Dario hosted the French poet Henri de Regnier; but a serious illness struck the writer, so he couldn’t come back to Venice anymore.

For decades the building was empty, until 1964 when the tenor Mario del Monaco began the negotiations to buy the property. But the artist, on his way to Venice to finalize the details of the contract, was involved in a serious car accident that forced him to a long rehabilitation and made him decide to give up the purchase.

A few years later Ca’ Dario was bought by Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze from Turin, who was killed inside the building in 1970 by a Croatian sailor named Raul Blasich, with whom he had a relationship. Blasich then fled to London, where he was murdered.

The palace was later bought by Kit Lambert, manager of the rock band The Who, who died a very short time later in London falling down stairs. Although he claims not to believe in the curse, Lambert had told some friends to sleep in the nearby Hotel Gritti gondoliers kiosk to “escape the ghosts that haunted him in the Palace”.

Fabrizio Ferrari, a venetian businessman, bought the house in the 80s and moved there with his sister Nicoletta. Ferrari did not die, but he lost all of his assets after taking possession of the building, while his sister died in a car accident without witnesses.

In the late 80s, the building was purchased by financier Raul Gardini who wanted to make a gift to his daughter. Gardini, after a series of economic setbacks and the involvement in the scandal of Tangentopoli, committed suicide in 1993 in never fully clarified circumstances.

After the death of Gardini, no one wanted to buy Ca’ Dario anymore, and the first brokerage company that had been mandated to sell surrendered and stranded down. At the end of the 90s the director and actor Woody Allen seemed willing to buy the building, but then he desisted. In 2002, a week after renting Ca’ Dario for a vacation in Venice, bass player John Entwistle died because of a heart attack.

In 2006 the property passed to an American company on behalf of an unknown buyer and it is currently being restored.

 

Handmade frames for handmade prints

Some time ago I met here at my studio in Venice Marco Faccio, a nice and friendly guy from Vicenza who came here with his wife Clara. They loved some of my works and we talked a lot, and so I knew that Marco is a very talented wood craftsman. After they left the studio, I went to visit his website and I realized that I did love his artworks so much!

He makes (all handmade, of course!) frames, boxes, (unbelievable) towerboxes, cases.. everything is wonderful!

And I’m very happy that he decided to do something for me.

Marco took inspiration from my etchings and made a study of shapes and materials and then he made these handmade African durmast frames for my prints. The frames, made of solid wood, have been waxed and have a durable synthetic glass and they are unique works of art.

The frames and the prints are viewable at my store in VeniceMarco chose the following prints to build his beautiful frames:

I have printed the etchings in brand new colors- a color between red and brown.

I hope you’ll like the new frames as much as I do!

Ciao,

Arianna

The history of printmaking – part 2

In Venice, in the fifteenth century, the Republic of Venice is at its peak as territorial expansion, and it is a model and benchmark for the world because of its opening to the religious philosophies, and it is a city ready to welcome all thoughts and trends guaranteeing press freedom.

This is why in that time a large group of “Humanist reformists” comes to Venice, including Aldus Manutius (in 1490), Marco Antonio Sabellico (teacher of rhetoric and author of several works including prayers, writings about  topography and Venetian courts) and Francesco Colonna (Dominican friar of the Venetian monastery of Saints John and Paul).

The “Scuola dei stampatori e dei librai” (School of printers and booksellers) met in the Dominican monastery of Saints John and Paul (the present hospital).

 

On September 18th, 1469, the Senate recognizes that Johann of Speyer (German printer) have introduced and developed the art of printing in Venice, while the “statuto dei Librai e Stampatori” (the statute of the Booksellers and Printers) will be ratified only in 1567.

In 1472 Filippo di Pietro is the first printer properly Venetian (active until 1482).

In 1488 there are almost 200 printing houses in Venice.

One of these is the printing house of Aldus Manutius, not just a typographer but a real publisher (the first in a modern way), who prints 157 titles (even more than a thousand copies with the use of a hand press) between 1495 and 1501.

The environment of his printing house becomes a real literary circle which includes the most outstanding humanists of Italy.

The first studio of the printer is in Calle del Pistor, number 2343, near Campo Sant’Agostin; then he moved onto San Peterniano, near what is now Campo Manin, in 1508.

In 1499 Aldus Manutius publishes the ‘Hypnerotomachia Poliphili’, a novel in prose accompanied by 172 xylographs and attributable to the Dominican Francesco Colonna, who is one of the finest books of Italian Humanism.

In 1502 he founded an academy, the “Neacademia dei filelleni” or Aldina, where it was required to speak in ancient greek; those who did not speak ancient greek had to pay a pecuniary fine.

He wants to preserve the literature and the Greek philosophy to further oblivion, along with the great heritage of Latin literature, disseminating the masterpieces in printed editions.

On November 14th, 1502, Aldus Manutius gets from the Senate the prestigious post of Official Printer of the Republic, thanks to his experience, talent and ability. It is unanimously accepted that his trademark (an anchor and a dolphin) refers to the motto “Festina lente” (more haste, less speed) attributed by Suetonius to Octavian Augustus.

Among the most significant contributions of Aldus Manutius to modern typography there is the final version of punctuation, the invention of italics and the beginning of the paperback editions. He was also the first to publish a catalog of his works and he has edited the first book with the pages numbered on both sides.

At the end of the fifteenth century, many engravers in Germany, Holland and Italy reach highest quality results.

The aquaforte etching (engraving on metal plate through the use of acids) was born as an autonomous technique in the early sixteenth century, although the chance to engrave the metal with acids was known since the end of ‘400.

The famous German artist Albrecht Dürer (who begins as a wood designer for woodcuts) was one of the first to use the new aquaforte etching technique- a technique that has probably learned from the Venetian Luca Pacioli (religious, mathematician and italian economist who attended the famous artists of the time ), during his trip to Italy.

Parmigianino (1508-1540) was the first artist to understand the possibilities of the aquaforte etching, using it as a fast means of expression, full of warmth and vitality.

The spread of the aquaforte etching technique frees the artist from the mediation of the artisan, who used to copy his design on wood or on metal plate, mixing together the figure of the artist and the engraver.

Year after year the techniques already existing are improved and new ones are invented, which provide the artists more and more expressive possibilities, as the technique of aquatint (which allows to create veiled painting on the plate, unlike the etching which allows to create lines), perfected by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Le Prince in 1768.

Among the artists who have used this technique we must remember  Francisco Goya, who shows the enormous pictorial possibilities of the technical means.

In the Italy of ‘700 should be mentioned artists such as Tiepolo, Canaletto and Piranesi for their high quality works standing apart from the myriad of artisans reproducing works by great masters or detailed views.

In the eighteenth century engraving it became almost exclusively a means to reproduce artworks and portraits and it is brought to a form of industrialization, with the birth of companies that use numerous engravers.

The increasingly refined techniques turn the incision to a mechanistic way, without the beginning vitality and autonomy.

In the late nineteenth century, with the birth and the emergence of photography, the etching with utilitarian and reproductive purposes almost disappears.

From the twentieth century, thanks to artists who come to this ancient discipline with creative spirit, the etching has regained the dignity and freedom of speech that was a characteristic of the beginning of its history.

Sources:

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stampa

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libro

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carta#Europa
“Tecniche dell’incisione” Prof. Feo Marco

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcografia
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Manuzio
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niello
http://www.venicethefuture.com/schede/it/323?aliusid=323
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acquatinta

“Xilografia, Calcografia, Litografia” Bruno Starita

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Pacioli#Rapporti_con_gli_artisti_rinascimentali
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Antonio_Sabellico
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Colonna_(scrittore)
http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/filippo-di-pietro_(Dizionario_Biografico)/
http://www.etimo.it/?term=grafia
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnerotomachia_Poliphili
http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-colonna_(Dizionario_Biografico)/

The history of printmaking – part 1

The Art of printing was born in China during the Han Dynasty (a print on fabric can be dated 220 AD), although some artifacts have been discovered in Egypt dating from the sixth or seventh century BC.

The first type of printing was made pressing a small wooden carved board carved on fabric or paper, the Xilography (from the greek xilon = wood and graphos = handwriting), where it is eliminated the space that will remain white on the print and the printable portion of the matrix is what remains of the original thickness of the plate.

The oldest printed book is a Chinese translation of the “Diamond Sutra“, a Buddhist work, realized in 848 AD

In a memorial dating back to 1023 it is said that the Chinese government was using copper plates (intaglio) to print banknotes and official documents.

The technique of Xilography, together with Papermaking, is taught by the Chinese to the Arabs when they conquered Samarkand in 712, and spreads across European countries conquered by the Arabs.

In Europe, from the sixteenth century, the Xylography is commonly used to print fabrics, and from 1400 (when the paper becomes easily available) is used to print playing cards, to print religious images and texts of prayers, and for artistic productions.

Some xylographs could be used for a small number of images which were then bound together to form the first books, which were printed in European convents between 1380 and 1430, and included images and texts.

Printing entire books in this way was a long process because each page was made carving a wooden tablet, which often broke for its fragility.

The most ancient book that speaks about woodcuts with a printing purpose “Trattato della Pittura o del Libro dell’Arte” (The book of the Art) by Italian Cennino Cennini in 1437.

In 1041 in China Bi Sheng invented movable type printing using the clay, but it was too fragile. In 1298, still in China, Wang Zhen introduces a more durable type made of wood, while in Korea, in 1234 the mobile characters are created using metal bronze.

In Europe, Johannes Gutenberg invents the text printing using movable metal type made of iron and steel, the strongest materials known at the time. We can not be sure that Gutenberg did not come in contact with this technique thanks to the trade routes with the East, but surely he has perfected it through the invention of the printing press modeled on the winepress of the Rhenish farmers, and through the improvement of the printing ink, oil-based instead of water-based, and therefore longer lasting.

With the spread of movable type, the technique of xylography to print full pages falls into disuse, but a way to combine images xylographic with texts composed with movable type is soon found, loosing yet the previously continuity and interpenetration of the text with the pictures.

The search for the particular in illustrations pushes artists to experiment the metal engraving, Chalcography (from the greek chalcos = copper and graphos = handwriting), where the drawing is traced through the use of the burin digging the plate which is then inked and printed (unlike the xylography, worked in negative, where the print result is given by the digging of the wooden plate of what will result white, in chalcography -worked in positive- the result of printing is given by the signs made on the plate that will be the actual final drawing).

The origins of the chalcography are uncertain: it is expected to be born in Germany around 1430 with the use of the roller press which replaces the vertical one used for the xylography.

The engraver who has made the first known chalcographic prints works in Basel from 1430 to 1445.

Giorgio Vasari attributes to Maso from Finiguerra (1426-1464) the discovery of Chalcography, using the “niello” technique used by jewelers, who used to engrave a metal plate with the burin and then filled the cavity with a special alloy, called “nigellum” obtaining dark images on a metal smooth background. The goldsmith, before filling the grooves with the alloy, used to make a test of the work done by filling the signs of the burin with a mixture made up of lampblack and walnut oil (more or less the copperplate ink still used) and printing the plate on a piece of wet paper.

The Art of printing spreads quickly across Europe.

End of part 1

The Art of printing in Venice

In the 15th Century the Venetian Republic reached the height of its expansion.

No European state could or would ever again boast such a great future and such a long period of continuity.

The “Serenissima” was particularly open to all religious philosophies, provided that none of these threatened its safety.

The first printers to arrive in Venice were German, followed by French, Flemish, Dutch, Swiss, Cretian and Istrian printers and many Italians.

A large group of  “reformist Humanists” fled to Venice, and among them Aldo Manuzio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldus_Manutius).

The freedom of the press was guaranteed and encouraged, especially since the expansion of printing had become such a good source of income in a matter of a few years. Venetian publishing not only called for collaboration, but also stimulated printers to experiment. The Senate even set down severe penalties for publishers who dared to use low-quality paper in 1537.

It is logical, therefore, to assume that authors not only saw Venice as the chance to get their works published, but also as having the facilities needed to accomodate them, plus the opportunity to discuss and compare their individual experiences.

Nearly 200 printing presses were operating in Venice towards the end of the 15th Century (1488).

The Art of printing was officially recognized in Venice on September 18th, 1469- the day the Senate recognized that Johann von Speyer had introduced and developed the art in Venice.

The “Scuola dei Stampatori e Libreri” always met at the Dominican monastery of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (the current hospital).

The cultural climate enjoyed by printers in Venice was that of a city ready to welcome all schools of thought and trends, filtering these and turning them into its own peculiar heritage. A real university was never established in Venice. Numerous cultural centres existed, however, such as the circle of the Greek scholar Giovanni Lascaris and the Rialto and San Marco schools holding classes in moral philosophy and rhetoric (only open to the noblility).

There were important centres for intellectual discussion with splendid libraries attached to them in the monasteries of the churches of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Santo Stefano, S. Francesco della Vigna, San Michele in Isola and Sant’Antonio in Castello.

 

ALDO MANUZIO AND HIS TRADEMARK

Aldo Manuzio was not just a printer, but an actual publisher. An extraordinarily erudite man, he helped preserve many texts and guaranteed excellent results.

The printer’s early headquarters were in Calle del Pistor, number 2343, near Campo Sant’Agostin; he moved his operations to Calle San Paterniano near what is now Campo Manin in 1508.

As a printer, he published the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in 1499 for the publisher Leonardo Crassus in Verona.

He was also famed for having invented his own type, possibly with the help of the philosopher Friar Luca Pacioli and the designer Francesco Griffo of Bologna.

Manuzio’s books were held in great regard and received numerous awards throughout Europe, but suffered precisely for this reason from imitation and counterfeiting by other publishers, especially in Florence and Lyon.

His printing house became a true literary circle. Manuzio was aware of his great responsibility: he summoned the most outstanding humanists of the time in Italy to act as correctors (not just translators and editors of drafts, but proper editors and editorial consultants).

Also his choice of paper -produced by the Fabriano papermill (the best on the market), format 32 x 42 cm- led to surprising result. When folded in half, he got the “folio” (32 x 21 cm), in four the “quarto” (16 x 21 cm), in three the “octavo” (10.5 x 16 cm). Manuzio designed and started using the “octave” with great commercial success: in other words, he had already invented the paperback (pocket book or “encheridio”) in the early 16th Century.

In May 1502 Manuzio founded an academy, the “Neacademia dei filelleni”, or Aldina Academy. He encouraged business relationships, collaboration and friendship with the best minds of the time, and he was a very prolific publisher.

Thanks to his expertise, talent and skill, the Senate appointed Manuzio as the official printer of the Venetian Republic on November 14th, 1502, having been sponsored by Marin Sanudo il Giovane (1466-1536).

It is unanimously accepted that his trademark (an anchor and a dolphin) refers to the motto “Festina lente” (more haste, less speed) attributed by Suetonius to Octavian Augustus.

Thanks to Franco Filippi

Source: The Art of printing in Venice by Franco Filippi (http://www.venicethefuture.com/schede/uk/323?aliusid=323)

Ukiyo-e

The works of Utagawa Hiroshige, one of the leading exponents of Japanese art, are displayed in exhibition at Palazzo Grimani – Venice, from September 20th until January 11th.
I went to visit the exhibition (I’ll talk about the exhibition soon in this blog) and I would like to share with you the story of ukyo-e and its origins.

I hope it can be interesting and I also hope to offer you some ideas or simply give you informations that you did not know.

This article is divided into three parts, this is the first one.

The Ukiyo-e is a kind of Japanese xylographic Art Print. Since it is made through the impression of multiple wood matrices in a single subject (each matrix prints at least one color), it shows a wide variety of tones and shades of colors.

The term Ukiyo-e literally means “image of the floating world“, a world that is constantly changing.

The word is also an allusion to the homophone term “world of suffering”, the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, which Buddhists try to avoid achieving enlightenment.

The words of the Japanese writer Asay Ryoi well explain the meaning of this term:

“Contemplating the natural spectacles of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and maple leaves, the taste of singing songs, drinking sake and taking pleasure only in floating along the current of the river as a dried pumpkin shell.”

The rudiments of printing come from China in the Middle Ages and have their first spreading among Buddhist monks.

 

The genre takes its connotation in the Edo period (1600) thanks to the spread of the merchants, the creation of picture books and posters of the Kabuki theater.

It was originally used only Chinese ink in monochrome prints, later some prints were hand-painted, till when Suzuki Harunobu, in the eighteenth century, developed the technique of polychrome printing to produce nishiki-e.

 

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