The Capitals of the Doges’ Palace in Venice

Interesting, unique details to be noted... Maybe, quite a few of you have visited the Doges’ Palace in our city, or you might have admired it only from the outside, in its elegant and light forms, possibly during a guided tour in Venice…
But have you ever paid attention to the sculpted details on the outside? Just think that in the capitals of the colonnades on the ground floor and on the second floor, 582 different figures are sculpted! All together they represent the entire universe according to medieval parameters.
In this short post we would like to spend a few words on the capitals of the 1300’s and of the 1400’s that decorate this wonderful palace.

The Capitals at the corners

The capitals at two of the corners are exceptional in their details.
In the first one we can see King Solomon, a perfect example of justice, along with seven knowledgeable men of the ancient world, among them Pythagoras, Euclid, Cicero… by looking at this capital we can guess that the desire of the Republic, who commissioned all these works of art, was to create sort of a union between the ancient knowledge and the Christian one.

Capital with Solomon an the seven men of knowledge of the ancient world

In the second capital, defined by John Ruskinthe most beautiful in Europe”, we can admire the creation of Adam and of the planets in their domiciles, and it is the one with which the story of the universe, as represented on the façades of this palace, starts.

Capital with the creation of Adam and the planets

Capitals with scenes from everyday life in Venice during the Middle Ages

Quite interesting is the capital with the deadly sins: sloth, gluttony, lust, envy, pride, greed, wrath… but the deadly sins are seven, whereas the capital is octagonal… which might be the eighth vice added by the sculptor? We can give you a hint: it is represented by a young lady wearing plenty of jewels…

Capital with the seven deadly sins

The faces of the capitals with people from all over the world are very well characterised. The figures present different somatic traits and wear their typical hats.

Capital with people from all over the world

Quite sweet, and eventually very sad, is the capital with images of the everyday life of a family…

Capital with family life

The capital with arts and crafts is really detailed: from the humble cobbler to the learned notary, each of them is represented with the typical instruments of their jobs. Their different caps and hats are also symbolic of their social status.

Capital with arts and crafts

And then capitals with birds, animals with their prey, soldiers, the months of the year, baskets with fruits… the whole world materialise in front of our eyes.

In order to understand it, though, we need to take a look at it from a different perspective, as if we were men, women, children of the Middle Ages. We would then remain fascinated, astonished…

We will be waiting for you in Venice, to show you these majestic works of art, so frequently neglected! Ciao!

You might be interested in the following tours and posts: 

St.Mark's square: the Venetian heartbeat. (section: Classical tours of Venice)

First time in Venice?  (section: Classical tours of Venice

Photo and guided tours in Venice. (section: Specific tours of Venice

Hunting for stars and planets in Venice. (section: Kids tours in Venice

Iconic Venice (section: Live virtual tours of Venice

The best of Venice: what to see  (section: Blog)

Classical Venice: the giants' staircase of the Doge's Palace. (section: Blog)

Our private tours of Venice: the bell tower in St.Mark's square. (section: Blog)

Saint Mark's basilica in Venice: the mosaics on the facade. (section: Blog)

The two columns in St.Mark's square (section: Blog)

The Doge's palace of Venice: Paolo Veronese's ceiling of the Collegio hall. (section: Blog)