Porta Della Carta


After completing a painting of The Pantheon last year, I was looking around for another building to render for a series on Italian architecture.  I came across an image of the Porta Della Carta, a Gothic glory that offered a significant challenge.  I found it interesting as a subject because of the intricacy of the design, but also in that it had the unenviable distinction of being situated between the San Marcos Basilica and the Doge Palace, a mere portal amongst giants.

With its abundant history as a subject for artists from Canaletto to Turner and beyond, it was the paintings of my step-father, Carlos Diniz, that initially got me thinking about the possibilities of depicting Italian architecture. I wondered if I could find my own expression of such well-trodden tourist destinations.

In my approach, I thought added light so you can see what lay behind the majestic doors and along the loggia. In place of contemporary figures, I had the idea of adding a more colorful scene with a group of Comedia Della Arte characters during Carnival: A masked, dancing scallywag wooing the ladies with a mandocello.

The torrential flooding of Venice this year was terribly distressing, and this painting suddenly took on an added significance. When I think if the treasure chest of art and architecture that this city is, the exquisite work of Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto, the Gothic, Palladian, Rococo and Baroque structures, the exquisite tile and décor of the churches and cathedrals, and the art, writing and film that has been inspired by this city and its jewels I cannot imagine the loss to humankind it would be if it were allowed to be washed away by the rising ocean.

How do we deal with the inevitable decline of these architectural splendors as the planet continues to wreak havoc? It certainly gives one pause. I think that as people enlightened and educated in art, architecture and design, the mantle falls to us to help save this important part of human heritage by innovation in design and engineering, by speaking out on the importance of this city for all and of course, by donating and encouraging others to donate to the preservation of it for future generations. There is a great foundation working to do this, and their name says it all: SAVE VENICE.

As 2019 comes to a close, I am happy to still be creating and having the opportunity to help my clients to visualize their projects in the most aesthetic way possible. We have had some great commissions this year and I am grateful to be a part of the architectural and development teams that are committed to doing great work.

A little historical background on Porta Della Carta:

In 1438–1442, Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon built and adorned the Porta Della Carta, which served as the ceremonial entrance to the Doge Palace. The name of the gateway (translated as the Paper Portal) probably derives either from the fact that this was the area where public scribes set up their desks, or from the nearby location of the archives of state documents. This gate, located between the Basilica and the Doges Palace is flanked by Gothic pinnacles, with two figures of the Virtues per side (Fortress, Prudence, Hope and Charity).

The gateway is crowned by a bust of Mark the Evangelist over which rises a statue of Justice with her traditional symbols of sword and scales. In the space above the cornice, there is a sculptural portrait of the Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling before the winged Lion of Saint Mark, symbol of Venice. At the lower left corner of the frame, hugging the basilica’s poly-chrome marble-clad walls, you can see the Four Tetrarchs. The porphyry sculpture represents four Roman rulers and dates to around 300 A.D. It is believed to have been brought to Venice from Constantinople around 1204.