By: Lionello Puppi (Author), Mark E. Smith (Author, Photographer)
It is the meeting of stone and water that creates much of the magic of Venice, the solidity and permanence of the former and the evanescent fragility of the latter. Had Venice been built of wood, the incursions of sea water and the rugged climate would have destroyed the city centuries ago. What these elements have done, however, is to wear away exterior surfaces, making the simplest brick wall an object of contemplation, and giving a special patina to the expensive marbles used for anything from a staircase to a masterpiece of sculpture. The Venetians were great craftsmen and artists, and their use of stone is unparalleled in any other city. Following the Byzantine tradition, multi-coloured pieces of marble and semi-precious stone covered the floors of a religious building in a magic mosaic, while later on chips of marble of all possible hues were tossed into cement to carpet the floors of great palaces. During the middle ages and the Renaissance, multi-coloured marble tombs climbed up the walls of the city's churches and great artists such as Andrea Verrochio, Alessandro Vittoria or Tiziano Aspetti made magnificent stones statues in all sizes for church and state as well as for the great patrician families who competed to outdo each other in the magnificence of their palaces. This beautiful, specially photographed book is a thesis on the texture, colour, shape and endless uses of stone in the hands of sensitive artists. It will be a revelation even to those who think they know Venice well, and a source of inspiration for designers and craftsmen in all areas.