chapter  VI
15 Pages

THE VENETIAN AND OTHER ITALIAN SCHOOLS OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY

In spite, therefore, of the great eminence displayed by the Venetians in the other arts we may safely say that Venice was above all a musical city. By his statue of Apollo in the Loggetta the famous sculptor and architect Sansovmo wished to signify the love of his city for music " which seems there to be in its natural and proper abode" (Temanza, Vita di Sansovino), and in the similar tributes on the part of the painters, and particularly in the picture of Veronese already mentioned, we may see the wish to pay honour to the art which, more than any other, seemed best to express the Venetian spirit, and an almost unconscious and involuntary recognition of the essentially musical quality of their own, and indeed of all, Venetian painting and all Venetian art generally. "Musical," in fact, is the one adjective which recurs most frequently in any attempt to describe or define the haunting emotional quality, the rich harmonious colouring, the melting indefiniteness of line and contour, that are so characteristic of Venetian art, and even of the very city itself; as Nietzsche says in his Ecce Homo, "if I try to find a new word for music, I can never find any other than Venice". It is hardly too fanciful to point out that the very form of the city is musical, for it is constructed like a six-part double choir in which the sestieri of Castello, San Marco, and Cannareggio on one side of the Grand Canal respond to Polo, Dorsodura, and Santa Croce on the other ; and the Grand Canal itself is one long, sweet antiphonal in which a group of palaces on one side replies to a group on the other, like choir to choir, until they finally unite in the majestic full close of the Piazza di San Marco.