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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand Canal, An Essay by Mark Doty

Title: Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand Canal, An Essay
Author: Mark Doty
Pages: 64
Publisher: Getty Publications (November 7, 2002)
Genre: Literature / Essay
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift, Coffee Table / End Table book

In a nutshell: This nice little book (about 5 1/2" x 6") contains an essay written by Mark Doty. He has done a nice job of looking closely at this beautiful painting and writing about different things within the picture. Take a close look at the picture below - can you find the man on the balcony on the upper left hand side? He has done a nice job of speculating about him. The pictures within the book are very nice, and the dust jacket unfolds to become a complete picture of the famous painting. This would be a great coffee/end table book, as well as a nice office or hostess gift. This would also be great for the art enthusiast!

From Getty Publications:
Bernardo Bellotto's magnificent View of the Grand Canal provides a rich visual record of life in eighteenth-century Venice. This painting—one of the most popular in the Getty Museum—is so sweeping in its scope and so detailed that it requires repeated viewings to take in its portrait of daily life in Venice in the 1740s.

This small book presents Bellotto's great painting in a series of beautiful details that allow the reader to examine the painting closely and enjoy the colorful and busy goings-on of Venetian life captured so unforgettably by Bellotto. The book jacket unfolds to become a small poster of the painting in its entirety. Accompanying these delightful images is a lyrical essay by noted American poet Mark Doty. Together, Bellotto's painting and Doty's prose make for an unforgettable encounter with the art and life of Venice.

First Paragraph:
PRIVACY In cities, paradoxically, there is an extraordinary kind of privacy; hurry and talk, just a little distance away, make solitude more complete, and more delicious. This man who's stepped out onto the balcony on the side of a grand house overlooking the canal, his face turned toward open water, this woman a floor below him, on a balcony of her own, three small stone creatures on her balustrade - they are caught in moments of contemplation. They're fixed in postures of ease; they have as much time as they like. She leans forward on her elbows, a piece of cloth - scarf, handkerchief, dustrag? - draped from the railing between her hands; he rests his right arm on the rail, his body inclined toward the view. Great expanses of sky open beside them, a continuum of atmosphere interrupted only by the jutting of masts, banners half-flying in the breeze. That wind seems to be blowing only in the marine distance. Here in town the air's utterly still, and clear. Huge field of sky relieved by cloud banks. So much space around the dreamster; their equivalents in the twentieth century would be the isolated figures of Edward Hopper, solitary citizens poised in perennial silence.

My Review:
The book is made up of a nice essay that follows the progression of pieces of the painting View of the Grand Canal by Bernardo Bellotto. I enjoyed viewing the pictures as I read the essay.

Content: The essay and included pictures take a closer look at this famous painting.

Format: The book starts with an essay by Mark Doty, then spotlights different parts of the painting in over 40 pictures. The book ends with a page about the artist. Special Note: The dust jacket unfolds to become a picture of the entire painting.

Readability: Very easy to read, with clear pictures that help the reader to focus on different parts of the painting.

Overall: A great book for an art enthusiast. Also great for the coffee table or office end-table.

About the Author: (From Getty Publications)
Mark Doty's most recent book of poems is Source. In 2001 he published the book-length essay Still Life with Oysters and Lemon. A Guggenheim, Ingram-Merrill, and Whiting Fellow, he has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Martha Allrand Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches at the University of Houston, and divides his time between Houston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Stop by these great sites to read more reviews of this book:

Bermudaonion's Weblog


Anonymous said...

Great review.

Karen Harrington said...

This is one I'd like to check out.

Anonymous said...

I added a link to your review.

Kaye said...

Isn't this the most gorgeous little book ever?
It's on my coffee table, that's for sure.

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