Dorothy and I went to the National Gallery of Art today. We’ve been enough ties we generally know our way around but there are always small changes to what’s on display. This year’s big surprise was a woodcut that represents a view of Venice. I took a few detail shots but somehow managed to miss getting an overall shot but there’s a very good image on Wikipedia. The sign for this work read as follows:
Jacopo de’ Barbari
Venetian, (c. 1460/1470 – 1516)
View of Venice
woodcut on six sheets of laid paper
National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection
View of Venice was unprecedented in scale and ambition. To make his drawings, Jacopo de’ Barbari relied upon the work of surveyors, who likely took sightings from bell towers across Venice. They borrowed tools from other trades: compasses and astrolabes were used for navigation, and instructions for measuring angles and distances existed in treatises on gunnery. De’ Barbari’s genius lay in being able to integrate these views to form both an overview perspective and a city map. Master woodcarvers then used his drawings to create blocks for printing. The project took three years to complete.