Two men in a boat, but who?
October 10, 2007 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone identify this statue, taken somewhere in the Venice (Italy) lagoon.
posted by Joleta to Travel & Transportation around Venice, Italy (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My curiosity is piqued, but all I've found is another photograph. Is the figure pointing toward Venice, or out of the lagoon, toward the sea?
posted by steef at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2007

I, too, have been unsuccessful in a concrete identification, but IIRC, it has to do with Saint Mark and this legend:

"The following legend is the subject of two famous pictures in the Academy of Venice, which cannot be understood without a knowledge of what they illustrate.

On the 25th of February, 1340, there was a great storm at Venice. The water had been rising during three days, and had reached a height of three cubits more than had ever been known before. An old fishernlan had with great difficulty reached the Riva di San Marco, and determined to stay there until the storm ceased. But a man came to him and insisted that he should row to San Giorgio Maggiore. With difficulty the fisherman was persuaded to set out, and having reached San Giorgio the stranger landed, and ordered the boatman to await his return. When he came back to the boat he brought a young man with him, and commanded the fisherman to row to San Niccolo di Lido. The boatman doubted his ability to do this, but was assured that strength would be given him. Reaching the Lido, the two men landed and soon returned to the boat with a third. The fisherman was then told to row out beyond the two castles, and when at last they came to the sea they saw a barque filled with demons who were on their way to submerge the city.

The three strangers made the sign of the cross, and bade the demons depart. Instantly the barque vanished and the sea was calm. Then the fisherman was ordered to land each man at the place from which he had come, and when this was done, he demanded payment for his services of the last to land. The stranger replied, II Thou art right; go to the Doge and the Procuratori of Saint Mark; tell them what thou hast seen. I am Saint Mark, the protector of the city; the others were the brave Saint George and the holy bishop, Saint Nicholas. Tell them that the tempest was caused by a schoolmaster of San Felice, who sold his soul to Satan and then hanged himself." The fisherman replied that no one would believe his tale. Then Saint Mark gave the man a ring, saying, "Show them this, and tell them that they will not find it in the sanctuary," and he disappeared. The next morning the fisherman did as he was told, and the ring could not be found in the treasury of Saint Mark. The fisherman was paid, and a life pension was assigned him. The ring was replaced by the Procuratori, a grand procession was ordained, and with great solemnity all Venice gave thanks to God and the three saints for the preservation of the beautiful city."

I know I've been near this spot, and it looks like the Lido in the background (but it's been so long, I can't be sure). Not resting until the answer is found...

and I will be embarrassed if I am wrong as hell.
posted by vers at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, vers! That's a great legend, and I'm glad you're searching, too. I'm pretty sure I snapped this photo between either the Fondamente Nova vaporetto stop and Murano, or between Murano and Burano.
posted by Joleta at 11:29 AM on October 11, 2007

This is driving me absolutely bonkers. If your photostream is in any kind of order, I'm thinking you were coming around the eastern end of Venice, approaching Arsenale (clockwise around the islands, I guess?). That still hasn't helped me to find the damned thing, though.
posted by ersatzkat at 2:54 PM on October 11, 2007

Response by poster: ersatzka: I don't think we were going around toward Arsenale. We left from the Fondamente Nova vaporetto stop and headed straight out to Cimitero, where we made a stop. We got off at the next stop, which was Murano Colonna.
posted by Joleta at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2007

I sent email to see if occhiblu will come look at this thread - if memory serves, she was a tour guide in Venice for a bit. Hopefully she has time to drop in and help!
posted by ersatzkat at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2007

Well, I tried, Joleta, but this has me so stumped I can't stand it. I actually posted a question to the flickr shot steef linked to, and the photographer said he recalls it being between Venice and the Lido, which is what my hazy memory says, too.

This is what dreams are made of. I know I saw this in the flesh, I know pretty closely where I was at the time, I remember the soft waves, I probably even have a picture of it stashed away in my stuff... but no amount of memory prodding , searching through travel books, or googling is helping. If it were by Donatello, I'd've found it by now.

Just hoping that someone finds the answer. Almost praying, actually.
posted by vers at 5:04 PM on October 11, 2007

Response by poster: Vers, we never took a boat in the direction of the Lido, and my photostream is in the order the photos were taken. The time data from my camera is inaccurate, as I never reset it, but the statue photo was definitely taken on the same day as our visit to Burano, but on the trip back . It looks like it's actually between San Michele and the Fondamente Nove vaporetto stop. All I remember is saying "Whoa! What's that?" and snapping a photo of it.
posted by Joleta at 11:05 PM on October 11, 2007

Thank you for clarifying, Joleta. I've looked at vaporetto maps and everything else I can think of, and I'm still stumped. Time for a trip to Venice... I wish.
posted by vers at 8:23 AM on October 12, 2007

When did you take the photo? I'm wondering if it was an installation to coincide with the Biennale (or some other festival).

I'm 99% sure it wasn't there when I lived in Venice -- I spent a lot of time seeking out things like that! -- so I'm thinking it must be fairly recent.
posted by occhiblu at 9:12 AM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: Occhiblu: I took the photo last Monday (October 8), so yes, it could be very new!
posted by Joleta at 2:38 PM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: There's nothing about the statue in this very comprehensive review of Biennale art, but I'm really sorry I missed the musical French toilets!

I thought I was on to something when I found this PDF on the Biennale web site, which mentions something from Russia in a "space opposite the isle of San Michele." (See #22 on PDF). Searching for Russia/Russian and Biennale only turn up the Russian multimedia installation.
posted by Joleta at 3:04 PM on October 12, 2007

There was apparently an art installation festival called OPEN going on, as well, but I have googled all the artists listed and come up empty. That might be worth looking into further, though.
posted by occhiblu at 3:51 PM on October 12, 2007

Thanks, occhiblu!
posted by ersatzkat at 5:18 PM on October 12, 2007

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