Artibus et Historiae no. 35 (XVIII)

1997, ISSN 0391-9064

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DEBORAH HOWARD - Venice as a Dolphin: Further Investigations into Jacopo de' Barbari's View

The publication of Jacopo de'Barbari's celebrated bird's eye map of Venice, issued in 1500, was sponsored by the German merchant Anton Kolb (felicitously named in the context of this memorial volume). The first part of the article suggests that, given the skills in map-making and perspective available to Barbari, the major distortions in the left-hand side of the map are unlikely to have been accidental, but instead were deliberately contrived to give Venice the silhouette of a dolphin. The second part examines the probable associations of delphinic imagery in Venice at the time. It is proposed that this may have alluded to the city's protection by Venus as well as the gods depicted on the map, Neptune and Mercury, and endowed the city with the virtues of fortune, speed, harmony and the redemption of the soul.

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