The Eighteenth Capital, Doge's Palace, Venice, ItalyArtist:
John Wharlton Bunney
, British, 1828 - 1882
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Support: 305 x 402mm
Mount: 464 x 620mm
Accession Number: CGSGB542
This capital, which dates from the 1300s, topped the corner column of the lower arcade of the Doge’s palace. The arcade’s capitals are carved with many subjects that describe the Palace's function as a seat of government and justice, and a focal point for the people of Venice. Here, some of the signs of the zodiac and celestial figures are seen, as in the medieval period astrology was accepted as part of life.
Ruskin wrote that this capital was the 'most interesting and beautiful of the palace.' He believed that it was 'intended to signify, first, the formation of the planets for the service of man upon the earth; secondly, the entire subjection of the fates and fortune of man to the will of God, as… written in the volume of the stars themselves.'
Bunney has also painted in an iron clip. The capitals were very delicate by this period and clips helped keep them in place.