Christmas meeting

From Della Kerr:

Our Christmas meeting, at Blackwell Grange Hotel, consisted of 2 lectures and an excellent Christmas lunch.

Lecturer Anne Haworth gave 2 illustrated talks on The Artisans of Venice. Venice was the meeting-point for trade from both East and West, being important, rich and powerful for centuries, until conquered by Napoleon’s armies, who plundered many of its treasures. Silks, pigments and spices came from the East, while Venice also dominated the Brenner Pass, so controlled metals from Germany and a regular flow of artisans from the rest of Europe. Trades were regulated by more than 100 guilds. Venice has no quarries, but was a city of stonemasons, with bricks imported from the mainland. Venice has its own particular style of Gothic architecture, although it is often only the facades that are stone, due to the problem of weight on the man-made islands. There were many instrument-makers, paper-makers, printers and bookbinders, some still working today. Venice is famous for glass-making, although the original glass-blowers may have come from Syria and Egypt. Glass-making was confined to the island of Murano, to avoid the risk of fire, and workers were forbidden to leave, although some made it to England by the Sixteenth Century, and the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles was furnished by 3 workers bribed to escape from the island. Lace-making was concentrated on Burano, while other areas specialised in inlaid wood, marquetry and porcelain. Anne illustrated many of the trades with paintings by Carpaccio, Bellini, Canaletto and other local artists.