|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.
Love the quote; love the art. It makes me wish I could go to Venice! (Or anywhere in Italy.)ReplyDelete
Lark, Sargent did a bunch of watercolors of Venice that are so evocative of the place (not that I have been there, but from what I read). I am not good on boats so I don't know how well I would get along in Venice!Delete
I love Sargent's portraits; I'll have to look for his Venice watercolors. He's such an amazing artist. And I think I'd even brave motion sickness for a chance to see Venice.Delete
You have a point about braving the seasickness. They do have drugs for that!Delete
And if the Dramamine doesn't work, there's always Florence! I hear its just as beautiful; and it has some amazing museums. Too bad Italy is so far away from Salt Lake City.Delete
Well, Lark, I have been to Florence and it is a beautiful city and very walkable. There is of course a river but one can cross over it by bridge. Not a gondola to be seen. The number of museums is incredible and a bit overwhelming. And lots of churches which almost count as museums as they too are filled with art.Delete
You might as well make plans to go there...SLC is never going to get any closer! (HaHa)
Very true! :) I'm saving my pennies ... someday I'll see both.Delete
Reading that made me want to rush out and get this book but I'll have to wait till tomorrow. I do enjoy reading books set in other countries for their descriptions. Sometimes they make me realize how little I know about the HISTORY of other countries however.ReplyDelete
Joyce in KS
Joyce, this is the only mention of Italy, but about Cyprus there is plenty. I didn't know any of the history of the island, and I am a bit at sea with the political goings on, but his descriptions of the country and the people are wonderful to read. Even the parts I didn't understand were lovely!Delete
I love John Singer Sargent and particularly like his Venetian paintings. I have a book of Henry James Venetian Hours illustrated with Sargent's paintings. Lovely book.ReplyDelete
I'm glad I checked my Kindle account because I almost ordered Bitter Lemons. I had it in a paperback at one time, but I'm sure I culled it the last time I moved. A quick check of Kindle shows that I have it there, so I'm all ready to go to Cyprus via my Kindle and Durrell.
Joan, Sargent's watercolors are amazing. You know, I think I had that book of James's at one time but I don't think it was illustrated. It sounds wonderful.Delete
I am glad you found 'Bitter Lemons' before you ordered another copy! I hope you enjoy it. His chapter on buying a house on the island is very funny.