A History of Venetian Architecture

Ennio Concina, Author, Judith Landry, Translator
Ennio Concina, Author, Judith Landry, Translator Cambridge University Press $155 (362p) ISBN 978-0-521-57338-2
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Concina, a lecturer on Byzantine art at the University of Venice, has written widely in Italian on Venice and its architecture. So it comes as no surprise that his first title released in English on Venetian architecture is a comprehensive survey. Beginning with sixth-century churches, he follows Venetian architecture through the Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods, concluding with 20th-century structures in the city's outlying areas. Concina is most involving when he leaves the well-known examples of Christian architecture, such as San Marco, to examine other types of buildings. In addition to private architecture (he begins his consideration with the Venetian palazzi in the Middle Ages), he discusses the largely residential character of synagogue architecture in the city's Jewish ghetto. Although he presents some general history, he treats architecture as instances of stylistic and iconographic traditions, paying much less regard to pragmatic or social concerns. When he does address utilitarian issues--the location of wellheads at the center of courtyards, he notes, reflected the Venetians' concern with hygiene--the book comes alive. While there are numerous illustrations, the pictures do not make up for the text, which is both stiff and convoluted (""Significantly, it was thanks to the Manin--the aristocratic family which had tried to purchase one of the two main palazzi of Baroque Venice, Ca' Bon-Rezzonico, and of which the last doge of Venice was a member--that the Carmelite Pozzo put in an appearance in the new church of the Jesuits, which had been under construction since 1715""). (May)
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