Decoding a Venetian Masterpiece

A Renaissance lesson in artistic harmony

Christopher P Jones
7 min readMar 12, 2024

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Detail of ‘San Zaccaria Altarpiece’ (1505) by Giovanni Bellini (c.1430–1516). Oil on canvas transferred from wood. 402 × 273 cm. Church of San Zaccaria, Venice, Italy. Image source Wikiart

There are few places like Venice, with its lagoons and waterways that warble under the brilliant Adriatic light. Set in its maze of eloquent buildings and sometimes pungent water — that always makes me think of the pestilence in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice — the city is a landscape like no other.

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