The external sculptures at the corners of the Doges’ Palace in Venice

Masterpieces to be admired... Have you ever been on a guided tour of the Doges’ Palace in Venice? Do you think you already know all its secrets?
Actually, this museum is some sort of a bottomless pit, being so incredibly opulent, and there is always something more to discover, to observe, to learn about it.
In this post we would like to write about some of the external sculptures that decorate it, and namely the three high-reliefs at the corners of the façades facing Little St. Mark’s Square and the quay.

The Corner with King Solomon


King Solomon
Next to Porta della Carta, the former entrance of the palace, we find King Solomon in one of the most famous episodes of the Bible: he has to decide who is the real mother of the baby claimed by two women. Here the king is represented as the symbol of the Divine Justice. His almost expressionless face contrasts with the grief on the face of the real mother, so worried for her son’s fate.

King Solomon

Above him, there’s Archangel Gabriel, who, curiously enough, faces St. Mark’s Basilica, as if the church represented the Holy Mary annunciated by the angel. After all, a legend has it that Venice was founded on the day of the Annunciation…

Archangel Gabriel 

The Corner with Adam and Eve 

In the next corner we can admire a marvellous relief with Adam and Eve, caught in the moment of the original sin. Eve offers Adam the prohibited fruit… but try to observe: among the leaves and the stem of the fig tree, can you spot the character who offered the apple to Eve in the first place? In this sculpture the gestures and the relationships among the characters are quite impressive.

Adam and Eve
Above this exquisite work of art there stands Archangel Michael, one more symbol of the Divine Justice. In the scroll he holds we can read in Latin “Ense bonos tego, malorum crimina purgo”, which means “With my sword I protect the righteous and punish the criminals”.

Archangel Michael

The Corner with Noah


Drunken Noah covered by two of his sons
Finally, here is drunken Noah, covered in his nakedness by two of his sons, while the third steps back from his father… Among the vine leaves and the grapes, which make this sculpture even more precious, we can see several birds: they are the symbols of the Christians who feed on the vine, that is on Christ himself. This is one of the most frequent religious subjects in Early Christian and medieval art. But which is the symbolical meaning of this work? And how is it connected to the previously mentioned ones?

Noah’s indignant son
Right above Noah and his sons there is Archangel Raphael with young Tobias. Raphael, the patron of the young, will heal the blind Tobit, Tobias’ father: healing the blind, the angel shows them the way to salvation. But for the Venetians Raphael is also the patron of commerce and of travellers who travel across the Adriatic Sea and, metaphorically, across the sea of life.

Archangel Raphael

If we observe the external sculptures of the Doges’ Palace we can discover an entire world. We will be waiting for you here in Venice to unveil all these wonders! Ciao!

You might be also interested in the following tours and blogposts: 

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

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

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

Curious sculptures in Venice. (section: Blog

A tailored guided tour in Venice: the lions' mouths.  (section: Blog)

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

Classical Venice: the giants' staircase. (section: Blog

Our guided tours of the doge's palace of Venice: Antonio Rizzo's statues. (section: Blog

The capitals of the doge's palace in Venice. (section: Blog