This is the next part of my (long overdue) series on my Trafalgar Costsaver European Cavalcade tour. In my last post I spoke about the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace. Now we are entering the building itself.
The path from the courtyard and into the Doge’s Palace is via a spectacular sixteenth century staircase – Scala d’Oro (“golden staircase). You can see my daughter Rhiannon sitting on the steps smirking at silly old Dad stopping to take more photos. That’s gold leaf adorning that ceiling above her. Alas, it looks incredibly average in ordinary photos. Now that I know High Dynamic Range photography I realise that this is precisely what I needed. Alas I did not realise at the time. Hence in the photo below you cannot get a real sense of the golden ceiling. So my advice to anyone planning to visit here with a DSLR – make sure you know how to do HDR on your camera.
The staterooms are located up the staircase. I tell you what, they are not too shabby even when compared with the Vatican and Versailles.
Now take note of the colours in my photos. Inside the Doge’s palace the same colour problem occurs and photos look so less vibrant than reality. You need HDR in my opinion.
Nevertheless, wow! The walls and ceilings are so incredibly crowded with art that individual pieces lose their uniqueness. Opulence becomes ubiquitous and hence ordinary. I think it made me realise that less is more. As you can see from the photo below, there is a definite theme of Venice at its peak of power being blessed by God. The photo below is a Doge (the ruler of Venice) kissing the toes of baby Jesus.
The walls were basically golden panels separating works by major Italian painters. We had rented some of those electronic mobile tour guides. Now here is a really good piece of advice if you are taking photos: with each different painting you photograph, write down a quick description with the artist’s name. Already I hear you thinking that you can easily do a Google image search later. Surely all of these masterpieces are easy to find later. Well, some are and some aren’t. Best to eliminate the likelyhood of losing track.
The painting below is called “Allegory of Victory in the League of Cambrai” by Jacopo Negretti, called Palma il Giovane (1544–1628). This is a reference to an alliance against the Republic of Venice made December 10 the 1508 by the Holy Roman Empire , France and Spain to maintain hegemony over the different territories of the Italian peninsula.
And below is a painting by Titian called “Doge Antonio Grimani Kneeling Before the Faith” Is this cool or what?
As the three of us walked around the place we were overwhelmed. Rhiannon commented that every room that we entered was larger than the room before. Indeed they were. Even though this was my third time here I still felt the excitement of passing from grand space to grander space.
And then we hit the room to beat all big rooms.
This was the “Scudo” Room, named for the coat-of-arms of the reigning Doge. The coat-of-arms now on display belongs to that of the final Doge, Ludovico Manin, whose reign ended in 1797 with the end of the Republic of St. Mark. This is the largest room in the Doge’s palace and was used as a reception chamber. It’s decoration displays maps glorifying Venetian power. Rhiannon was sufficiently overwhelmed that she had to sit down!
Now is that a great painting to sit under or what?
So far so good. We had a great time. Once again I can reflect that taking my family on this tour was one of the best decisions of my life. In Venice alone Rhiannon developed a view upon the world that was so much more than her suburban paradigm in Sydney. To all parents out there, if you can do it, then I urge you to take your children to see the world. Or at least take them into some other culture. It blows their mind seeing things like this and they return home the better for it.
My next story in this series will be on the museum in the palace. Thanks for reading.