1902 Encyclopedia > Verona

Verona




VERONA, an important city of northern Italy, in the province of Venetia, situated (45° 26' 8" N. lat. and 10° 59' 4" E. long.) in a loop made by the winding of the Adige (ancient Athesis). It lies at the junction of the Adige valley railway and

that from Mantua with the Milan, Vicenza, and Venice line, 25 miles north of Mantua and 30 south-south-west of Vicenza.
Modern City.—The basilica of S. Zeno (an early bishop Church of Verona who became its patron saint), which standsol S. outside the ancient city, is one of the most interestingZeuo-churches in Italy, but has been recently much injured by "restoration." The church was remodelled in the 12th century, to which period most of the existing structure belongs, including the richly sculptured west front and the open " confessio" or crypt, which occupies the eastern half of the church, raising the choir high above the nave, —a plan adopted in S. Miniato near Florence, the cathe-dral of Parma, at Coire in Switzerland, and elsewhere. This arrangement was probably introduced by the northern invaders of Lombardy. The cloisters of S. Zeno, rebuilt in 1123, are an interesting example of brick and marble construction. Like many other churches in Verona, S. Zeno is mainly built of mixed brick and stone in alternate bands: four or five courses of fine red brick lie between bands of hard cream-coloured limestone or marble, form-ing broad stripes of red and white all over the wall. A similarly variegated effect in red and white is produced by building the arches of windows and doors with alternating voussoirs in brick and marble. The cathedral, consecrated in 1187 by Pope Urban III., stands at the northern ex-Cathe-tremity of the ancient city, by the bank of the Adige; <ir*l-it is inferior in size and importance to S. Zeno, but has a fine 12th-century west front of equal interest, richly decorated with Lombardic sculpture. The rest of the exterior is built in bands of red and white, with slightly projecting pilasters along the walls; it has a noble cloister, with two stories of arcading. Its baptistery, re-built early in the 12th century, is a quite separate build-ing, with nave and apse, forming a church dedicated to S. Giovanni in Fonte. Pope Lucius III., who held a council at Verona in 1184, is buried in the cathedral, under the pavement before the high altar. The Dominican church Church of S. Anastasia is a mine of wealth in early examples of of S. painting and sculpture, and one of the finest buildings in Italy of semi-Gothic style. It consists of a nave in six bays, aisles, transepts, each with two eastern chapels, and an apse, all vaulted with simple quadripartite brick groin-ing.* It dates from the latter part of the 13th century, and is specially remarkable for its very beautiful and com-plete scheme of coloured decoration, much of which is

contemporary with the building. The vaults are very gracefully painted with floreated bands along the ribs and central patterns in each " cell," in rich soft colours on a white plastered ground. The eastern portion of the vault-ing, including the choir and one bay of the nave, has the older and simpler decorations; the rest of the nave has more elaborate painted ornament,—foliage mixed with figures of Dominican saints, executed in the 15th century.

Plan of Verona.
very unusual, consisting of a large nave without aisles, the span being between 45 and 50 feet; it also has two shallow transepts and an apsidal east end. The roof, which is especially magnificent, is the finest example of a class which as a rule is only found in Venetia :1 the fram-ing is concealed by coving or barrel-vaulting in wood, the surface of which is divided into small square panels, all painted and gilt, giving a very rich effect. In this case the 14th and 15th century painted decorations are well preserved. Delicate patterns cover all the framework of the panelling and fill the panels themselves ; at two stages, where there is a check in the line of the coving, rows of half-figures of saints are minutely painted on blue or gold grounds, forming a scheme of indescribably splendid de-coration. A simpler roof of the same class exists at S. Zeno; it is trefoil-shaped in section, with a tie-beam join-ing the cusps. The church of S. Maria in Organo, rebuilt 1 Or in churches built by Venetian architects in Istria and other subject provinces.
On the walls below are many fine frescos, ranging from c.
1300 to the 15th century, including Pisanello's beautiful
painting of St George (mentioned below). This church
also contains a large number of fine sculptured tombs of
the 14th and 15th centuries, with noble effigies and reliefs
of saints and sacred subjects. It is mainly built of red
brick, writh fine nave columns of red and white marble
and an elaborate marble pavement inlaid in many different
patterns. Its general proportions are specially noble.
Church The church of S. Fermo Maggiore comes next in interest,
of S. With the exception of the crypt, which is older, the exist-
Fermo. e^ifjce was rebuilt in the 14th century. Its plan is
O N A 171
by Sanmichele, contains paintings by various Veronese Other masters. Though not built till after his death, the church churches, of S. Giorgio in Braida, on the other side of the river, was also designed by Sanmichele, and possesses many good pic-tures of the Veronese school. There are several other fine churches in Verona, some of early date. One of the 14th century is dedicated to Thomas a Becket of Canterbury.
The strongly fortified castle built by the Delia Scala Bridges lords in the 14th century stands on the line of the Roman and wall, close by the river. A very picturesque battlemented castles-bridge leads from it to the other shore, sloping down over three arches of different sizes, the largest next to the castle and the smallest at the other end. There are four other bridges across the Adige; one, the graceful Ponte di Pietra, was designed by Fra Giocondo. The 16th-century lines of fortification enclose a very much larger area than the Roman city, forming a great loop to the west, and also including a considerable space on the left bank of the river. In the latter part of the city, on a steep elevation, stands the castle of St Peter, originally founded by Theodoric, mostly rebuilt by Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1393, and dismantled by the French in 1801. This and the other fortifications of Verona were rebuilt or repaired by the Austrians, but are no longer kept up as military defences. Verona, which is the chief military centre of the Italian province of Venetia, is now being surrounded with a circle of forts far outside the obsolete city walls.
The early palaces of Verona, before its conquest by Palaces. Venice, were of very noble and simple design, mostly built of fine red brick, with an inner court, surrounded on the ground floor by open arches like a cloister, as, for example, the Palazzo della Ragione, an assize court, begun in the 12 th century. The arches, round or more often pointed in form, were decorated with moulded terra-cotta enrichments, and often with alternating voussoirs of marble. The Scaligeri Palace is a fine example, dating from the 14th century, with, in the cortile, an external staircase leading to an upper loggia, above the usual arcade on the ground floor. It has a very lofty campanile, surmounted by a graceful octagonal upper story. This palace is said to have been mainly built by Can Signorio (Delia Scala) about 1370. After the conquest by Venice the domestic build-ings of Verona assumed quite a different type. They became feeble copies of Venetian palaces, in which one form of window, with an ogee arch, framed by the dentil moulding is almost always used. The monotony and utter lifelessness of this form of architecture are shown in the meaningless way in which details, suited only to the Vene-tian methods of veneering walls with thin marble slabs, are copied in the solid marbles of Verona. From the skill of Fra Giocondo (see below), Verona was for many years one of the chief centres in which the most refined and graceful forms of the early Renaissance were developed. The town-hall, with its light open loggia of semicircular arches on the ground floor, was designed by Fra Giocondo towards the end of the 15th century; its sculptured en-richments of pilasters and friezes are very graceful, though lacking the vigorous life of the earlier mediajval sculptured ornamentation. Verona contains a number of handsome, though somewhat uninteresting, palaces designed by San-michele in the 16th century. The finest are those of the Bevilacqua, Canossa, and Pompei families. The last of these is now the property of the city, and contains a gallery with some good pictures, especially of the Verona, Padua, and Venice schools. As in Venice, many of the 16th-cen-tury palaces in Verona had stuccoed facades, richly deco-rated with large fresco paintings, often by very able painters. One of these, the house of the painter Niccolo

Giolfmo, still has its frescos in a good state of preservation, and gives a vivid notion of what must once have been the effect of these gorgeous pictured palaces. The episcopal palace contains the ancient and valuable chapter library, of about 12,000 volumes and over 500 MSS., among them , the palimpsest of the Instiiutiones of Gains which Niebuhr Squares, discovered. The Piazza delle Erbe (fruit market) and the Piazza dei Signori, both in the oldest part of the city, are very picturesque and beautiful, being surrounded by many fine mediaeval buildings. In the former of these a copy of the lion of Venice has recently been erected. Popula- Verona had a population of 67,080 in 1871, which by tion, in- 1881 had increased to 68,741. In spite of its pleasant dustry, an(j neaithy site, Verona is in winter liable to be cold and rainy, like other places which lie along the southern spurs of the Alps. The Adige, a rapid but shallow river, shrinks to an insignificant stream during the summer. Verona possesses some silk, linen, and woollen manufactures, and carries on a considerable trade in these goods and in grain, hides, flax, hemp, marble, drugs, &c. Amongst the public institutions of the place may be mentioned the public library (1802), the agricultural academy (1768), the botanical garden, various good schools and colleges (in-cluding a theological seminary, a lyceum, and gymnasia), and numerous hospitals and charitable organizations. Roman Roman Remains.—The most conspicuous of the existing Roman remains, remains is the great amphitheatre, a building of the 2d or 3d cen-tury, which in general form closely resembled the Colosseum in Rome. Almost the whole of its external arcades, with three tiers of arches, have now disappeared ; it was partly thrown down by an earthquake in 1184, and subsequently used as a stone-quarry to supply building materials. Many of its blocks are still visible in the walls of various mediaeval buildings. The interior, with seats for about 20,000 people, has been frequently restored, till none of the old seats remain. Traces also exist of extensive baths and of a Roman theatre, the latter outside the most ancient line of walls, close to the left bank of the river. In 1885 portions of a number of fine mosaic pavements, dating from the 3d century, were discovered extending over a very large area under the cloister and other parts of the cathedral, about 5 feet below the present floor level. A large number of different patterns exist in a good state of preservation, elaborate in style, but, like all late Roman mosaics, rather coarsely executed with large tesserae. The Museo Lapidario contains a fine collection of Roman and Etruscan inscriptions and sculpture, mostly collected and published by Scipione Maffei in the 18th century.
Artistic Importance. —In many respects the resemblance between Yerona and Florence is very striking: in both cases Ave have a strongly fortified city built in a fertile valley, on the banks of a winding river, with suburbs on higher ground, rising close above the main city. In architectural magnificence and in wealth of sculpture and painting Verona almost rivalled the Tuscan city, and, like it, gave birth to a very large number of artists who dis-tinguished themselves in all branches of the fine arts. Painting. Painting in Verona may be divided into four periods, (i.) The first period is characterized by wall paintings of purely native style, closely resembling the early Christian pictures in the catacombs of Rome. Examples dating from the 10th to the 11th century have been discovered hidden by whitewash on the oldest parts of the nave walls of the church of S. Zeno. They are a very interesting survival of the almost classical Roman style of painting, and appear to be quite free from the generally prevalent Byzantine influence, (ii.) The Byzantine period seems to have lasted during the 12th and 13th centuries, (iii.) The Giottesque period begins contemporaneously with Altichiero da Zevio and Giacomo degli Avanzi, whose chief works were executed during the second half of the 14th century. These two painters were among the ablest of Giotto's followers, and adorned Verona and Padua with a number of very beautiful frescos, rich in composition, delicate in colour, and remarkable for their highly finished modelling and detail, (iv.) To the fourth period belong several important painters. Pisanello or Vittore PISANO ((/.v.), a very charming painter and the greatest medallist of Italy, was probably a pupil of Altichiero. Most of his frescos in Verona have perished ; but one of great beauty still exists in a very perfect state in the church of S. Anastasia, high up over the arched open-ing into one of the eastern chapels of the south transept. The scene represents St George and the Princess after the Conquest of the Dragon, with accessory figures, the sea, a mountainous land-
O N A
scape, and an elaborately painted city in the background. The only other existing fresco by Pisanello is an Annunciation in S. Ferrno Maggiore. For Pisanello's pupils and other painters of sub-sequent date, see SCHOOLS OF PAINTING, vol. xxi. p. 443. Domenico del Riceio, usually nicknamed Brusasorci (1494-1567), was a pro-lific painter whose works are very numerous in Verona. Paolo Cagliari or Paul VERONESE (q.v.), though a native of Verona, belongs rather to the Venetian school.
Verona is specially rich in early examples of decorative sculpture. Sculp-(i.) The first period is that of northern or Lombardic influence, ture. exemplified in the very interesting series of reliefs which cover the western facades of the church of S. Zeno and the cathedral, dating from the 12th eentury. These reliefs represent both sacred sub-jects and scenes of war and hunting, mixed with grotesque monsters, such as specially delighted the rude vigorous nature of the Lom-bards ; they are all richly decorative in effect, though strange and unskilful in detail. Part of the western bronze doors of S. Zeno are especially interesting as being among the earliest important examples in Italy of cast bronze reliefs. They represent scenes from the life of S. Zeno, are rudely modelled, and yet very dramatic and sculpturesque in style. Many of the 12th-century reliefs and sculptured capitals in S. Zeno are signed by the sculptor, but these merely constitute lists of names about whom nothing is known, (ii.) In the 13th century the sculpture seems to have lost the Lom-bard vigour, without acquiring any qualities of superior grace or refinement. The font in the baptistery near the cathedral is an early example of this. Each side of the octagon is covered with a large relief of a Biblical subject, very dull in style and coarse in execution. The font itself is interesting for its early form, one common in the chief baptisteries of northern Italy : like an island in the centre of the great octagonal tank is a lobed marble recep-tacle, in which the officiating priest stood while he immersed the catechumens. A movable wooden bridge must have been used to enable the priest to cross the water in the surrounding tank, (iii.) The next period is that of Florentine influence. This is exemplified in the magnificently sculptured tombs of the Delia Scala lords, designed with steadily growing splendour, from the simple sarco-phagus of Martino I. down to the elaborate erection over the tomb of the fratricide Can Signorio, adorned with statuettes of the virtues, to the possession of which he could lay so little claim. The recumbent effigies and decorative details of these tombs are very beautiful, but the smaller figures of angels, saints, and virtues are rather clumsy in proportion. The latest tomb, that of Can Signorio, erected during his lifetime (e. 1370), is signed "Boninns de Campigliono Mediolancnsis Dioscesis." This sculptor, though of Milanese origin, belongs really to the school of the Florentine Andrea Pisano. One characteristic of the 14th and 15th centuries in Verona was the custom, also followed in other Lombardic cities, of setting large equestrian statues over the tombs of powerful mili-tary leaders, in some cases above the recumbent effigy of the dead man, as if to represent him in full vigour of life as well as in death. That which crowns the canopy over the tomb of Can Grande is a very noble, though somewhat

quaint, work. (iv.) In the 15th century the influence of Venice became paramount, though this was really only a further development of the Florentine manner, Venice itself having been directly influenced in the 14th century by many able sculptors from Florence.
The architecture of Verona, like its sculpture, passed through Architec-Lombard, Florentine, and Venetian stages, (i.) The church of S. ture. Zeno and the cathedral, both of which were mainly rebuilt in the 12th century, are very noble examples of the Lombardic style, with few single-light windows, and with the walls decorated externally by series of pilasters and by alternating bands of red and white, in stone or brick. The arches of this period are semicircular and rest on round columns and capitals, richly carved with grotesque figures and foliage. Most of the external ornamentation is usually concentrated on the western front, which often has a lofty arched porch on marble columns, resting on griffins or lions devouring their prey, (ii.) The Florentine period (c. 1250 to 1400) is repre-sented by the church of S. Anastasia, and by many more or less mutilated palaces, with fine courts surrounded by arcades in one or more stories. The arches are mostly pointed, and in other respects the influence of northern Gothic was more direct in Verona than in Florence. Solidity of mass and simplicity of detail are among the characteristics of this period, (iii.) The Venetian period (c. 1400 to 1480) was one of little originality or vigour, the build-ings of this date being largely rather dull copies of those at Venice, (iv.) The early Renaissance developed into very exceptional beauty in Verona, mainly through the genius of

a native of Verona, who was at first a friar in the monastery of S. Maria in Organo. He rose to great celebrity as an architect, and designed many^ graceful and richly sculptured buildings in Venice, Rome, and even in France ; he used classical forms with great taste and skill, and with much of the freedom of the older mediaeval architects, and was specially remarkable for his rich and delicate . sculptured decorations. The Roman gateway of Gallienus (men-tioned below) supplied a special form of window, with a circular irch on pilasters, surmounted by a cornice ; this was copied by Fra Giocondo, and has been used by countless architects down to the present day without any alteration whatever, —a remarkable his-tory for a design : it was invented in the 3d century, revived in the 15th, and again copied in the 19th. Another of the leading architects of the next stage of the Renaissance was the Veronese Michele SANMICHELE (q.v.), a great military engineer, and designer of an immense number of magnificent palaces in Verona and other cities of Venetia. His buildings are stately and graceful in pro-portion, but show a tendency towards that dull scholastic classicism which in the hands of Palladio put an end to all real life in the art. History. History. —Nothing is certainly known of the history of Verona until it became a Roman colony with the title of Augusta, together with the rest of Venetia (Tac, Hist., iii. 8, and Strabo, p. 213). Its fertile surroundings, its central position at the junction of several great roads, and the natural strength of its position, de-fended by a river along two-thirds of its circumference, all com-bined to make Verona one of the richest and most important cities in northern Italy, although its extent within the walls was not large. The existing remains of wall and gates are shown by in-scriptions on them to date from the 3d century ; the ancient fossa still exists as an open canal, so that the old part of the city is wholly surrounded by water. One very handsome gateway inside the Roman city, now called the Porta de' Borsari, was restored in 265 by Gallienus. There are, however, traces of a more ancient circuit wall and gates on the old line. The emperor Constautine, while advancing towards Rome from Gaul, besieged and took Verona (312); it was here, too, that Odoacer was defeated (489) by Theodoric the Goth, who built a palace at Verona and frequently resided there. Verona was the birthplace of Catullus.
In the Middle Ages Verona gradually grew in size and import-ance. In early times it was one of the chief residences of the Lombard kings ; and, though, like other cities of northern Italy, it suffered much during the Guelf and Ghibelline struggles, it rose to a foremost position both from the political and the artistic point of view under its various rulers of the Scaliger or Delia Scala family. The first prominent member of this family and founder of his dynasty was Martino I. della Scala, who ruled over the city from 1260 till his death in 1277. Verona had previously fallen under the power of a less able despot, Ezzelino da Romano, who died in 1259. Alberto della Scala (died in 1301) was succeeded by his eldest son Bartoloineo, who was confirmed as ruler of Verona by the popular vote, and died in 1304. Alboino, the second son, succeeded his brother, and died in 1311, when the youngest son of Alberto, Can Grande, who since 1308 had been joint-lord of Verona with his brother, succeeded to the undivided power. Can Grande (Francesco della Scala, died in 1329) was the best and most illustrious of his line, and is specially famous as the hospitable patron of DANTE (q.v.). Other princes of this dynasty, which lasted for rather more than a century, were Giovanni (d. 1350), Martino II. (d. 1351), Can Grande II. (d. 1359), and Can Signorio (d. 1375). In 1389 Gian Galeazzo Viscouti, duke of Milan, became by conquest lord of Verona. Soou after his death the city fell by treacherous means into the hands of Francesco II. di Carrara, lord of Padua. In 1404-5 Verona, together with Padua, was finally conquered by Venice, and remained subject to the Venetians till the overthrow of the republic by Napoleon in 1797, who in the same year, after the treaty of Campo Formio, ceded it to the Austriaus with the rest of Venetia ; and since that time its political history has been linked to that of Venice.
See the various works by Seipione Maffei {Verona IUustraM, 1728; Museum
Veronense, 1749; and La Antica Condizion di Verona, 1719); also Panvinius,
Antiquitates Verona, Padua, 1668 ; Da Pertico, Descrisione di Verona, 1820 ; and
for some of the older buildings Street, Brick and Marble Architecture, London,
1855. (J. H. M.)



Footnotes

4 This type of churcn was specially adopted by the Dominicans in I Italy.

The neighbourhood of Verona is especially rich in fine limestones and marbles of many different kinds, especially a close-grained cream-coloured marble and a rich mottled red marble, which are largely used, not only in Verona, but also in Venice and other cities of the province. The same quarry produces both kinds, and indeed the same block is sometimes half red and half white.
See Street, Brick and Marble Arch, in Italy, London, 1855, p. 75 sq.

The valuable collection of works of art once preserved iu the Bevilacqua Palace has long since been dispersed.

There is every reason to doubt Vasari's statement that Pisanello
was a pupil of Andrea del Castagno.
Part of these doors are covered with bronze reliefs of scenes from the Bible, which are of still earlier date, and were probably brought to Verona from the Rhine provinces.
See an eloquent description by Ruskin, Stones of Venice, iii. p. 70 so.

2 They are frequently stated to be of beaten bronze, but they are really castings, apparently by the cire perdm process.

Verona is the " Bern " of early German legendary history, and of
the poems which celebrate the achievements of Charlemagne.






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