In 1493, the Venetian Republic commissioned the clockmaker Giovan Paolo Rainieri, from the town of Reggio Emilia, to design and build a clock. This clock would be big and beautiful and expensive—a tower would be designed and built on Saint Mark’s Plaza to house it. It would face the lagoon and the sea beyond, so the whole world could see how prosperous was Venice.
If you visit Venice you can see the Rainieri clock. Its face is decorated in gold and lapis lazuli (a mineral you make blue out of—blue paint ain’t cheap); the hand tells what hour it is and the current zodiac sign; above the clock is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus (made of gilded copper); twice a year a mechanical angel and three wise men parade in front of Mary and tip their crowns to her; above Mary is the lion of Saint Mark with his paw on the Gospel (the statue of the praying doge isn’t there anymore); and at the top, every hour two bronze giants ring an enormous bell with their hammers.
The entire contraption from top to bottom used a verge and foliot escapement to regulate the gears.
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Tagged angel, architecture, astrology, clock, clock tower, history, illustration, Italia, machine, Madonna col Bambino, magi, orologio, seaport, sketch, time, travel, venice, zodiac
Our British friends, the Wallaces (John, Sarah, William & Sam) sent a delightful little children’s book about a British family who travel around the United States. It’s titled: Flight Three, U.S.A., A Ladybird Book of Travel Adventure. Story by David Scott Daniell, and what appear to be gouache illustrations by Jack Matthew—like the one of Old Faithful above. Published in 1959 by Wills & Hepworth Ltd, Loughborough.
As the title suggests, this book is part of a travelogue series. This one’s about two British kids, Alison & John, who tag along on Daddy’s business trips. They tour the United States while Daddy reels off information about their destinations. When they stop by a farm in Middle America they eat hamburgers—’very large and delicious beef patties.’
I think we served hamburgers when the Wallaces visited us a few years back, on their tour of the United States. We had tacos, too. I met John and Sarah 10 years ago in Mexico on an illustrators’ retreat. You can find a few of John’s images here.
Here’s an aerial shot of the Battery in New York City—