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Distributed for Paul Holberton Publishing

The Image of Venice

Fialetti’s View and Sir Henry Wotton

The city of Venice holds a special place in the global imagination. This book explores the creation of one of its largest surviving depictions, which has remained almost unknown to the wider public since its creation exactly four centuries ago. Singed and dated 1611, the painting is the work of the notable early seventeenth-century Bolognese artist Odoardo Fialetti. His huge birds-eye view of the watery townscape is enlivened by tiny vignettes of Venetian life. Eight square meters in size, this remarkable painting is a tour-de-force among depictions of cities. In 1636 the painting was given to Eton College by the former British ambassador to Venice, Sir Henry Wotton. Over the centuries it was known only to pupils and masters at the school, its surface obscured by layers of grime. Restored in 2010-11, Fialetti’s view has emerged as a striking work of real artistic merit. Its prominent position in the British Museum’s Shakespeare exhibition in the summer of 2012 brought it to the attention of the general public for the very first time. This book takes a closer look at the remarkable picture and the context in which it was created. What kind of artist was Odoardo Fialetti, a Bolognese immigrant hoping to fill the shoes of the recently deceased great masters of the Venetian Renaissance? What image does it present of Venice? What sort of a figure was Henry Wotton, and informed connoisseur and a passionate playing the European politics, though not as diplomatic as perhaps he should have been? This is a relatively neglected period of both in Venetian art history and in British culture, the Jacobean prelude to the enthusiasm for Venetian art of Charles I’s court. This beautiful commemorative volume is interdisciplinary in scope, involving history of art, political history, cartography, architectural history and English literature and bibliophilia, as well as a story of restoration and its techniques, drawn together by one of the most distinctive views ever inspired by the townscape of Venice.

168 pages | 8 2/4 x 10

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