|The colors of Venice captured by John Singer Sargent|
Scuola di San Rocco, c.1903
This is how Lawrence Durrell describes, in the first paragraphs of Bitter Lemons (1957), the scene as he is getting ready to set off for Cyprus from Venice:
Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will -- whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures -- and the best of them lead us not only outward in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection...
These thoughts belong to Venice at dawn, seen from the deck of the ship which is to carry me down through the islands to Cyprus; a Venice wobbling in a thousand fresh-water reflections, cool as a jelly. It was as if some great master, stricken by dementia, had burst his whole colour-box against the sky to deafen the inner eye of the world. Cloud and water mixed into each other, dripping with colours, merging, overlapping, liquefying, with steeples and balconies and roofs floating in space, like the fragments of some stained-glass window seen through a dozen veils of rice paper. Fragments of history touched with the colours of wine, tar, ochre, blood, fire-opal and ripening grain. The whole at the same time being rinsed softly back at the edges into a dawn sky as softly as circumspectly blue as a pigeon's egg.