Monday, 28 January 2008

CLOCK-WATCHING

David and I first visited Venice in 1998 and from that year until our visit in 2006 we never saw one of the city's most celebrated landmarks: the Torre dell'Orologio, the ornately decorated Renaissance clock tower that stands on the north side of the Piazza San Marco.


Built in the 15th Century, the tower features a carving of the Lion of Saint Mark, a statue of the Madonna and Christ Child, a vast clock face marking 24 (not 12) hours, the moon phases and the houses of the zodiac and is surmounted by a huge bell on which the hours are struck by two hammer-wielding Moors scantily clad in animal skins.

For the first eight years of our visiting Venice, the clock was under wraps and under restoration. We saw this extraordinary edifice for the first time in 2006 when the scaffolding finally came down, but it was only this year that we got to witness a special feature of the clock that is only ever seen twice a year...

During Ascension Week and on the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) the panels to the right and left of the central statue, which normally display the hour and minutes on giant revolving drums, are removed and replaced with doors that, every hour (from 9.00-5.00) open onto the balcony allowing elaborate automata figures of a trumpet-tooting Angel and the gift-bearing Magi to process before the Virgin and Child, tipping their crowns as they pass.

It was raining at 9 o'clock on the 6th January, when the Wise Men and their Angelic Companion made their debut appearance of the day. Apart from a lot of bedraggled pigeons and a handful of disinterested caribinari, David and I were the only witnesses to the event; which, as you will see from David's video, is probably just as well!




Images: © Photos, Brian Sibley; Video, David Weeks, 2008

7 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

Fantastic - that one in yellow at the front looks so lifelike ! I have often thought that the Gormless Workman should be represented in some tableau somewhere and here he is ! His action of randomly looking and checking things importantly is so real as to be lifelike and we can deny his part in the development on civilisation and art no longer.

Suzanne said...

Hi de hi! Butlins taking their job a bit too seriously perhaps?

LisaH said...

The Magi in the yellow coat was particularly life-like.
What a beautiful building - let's hope the effects of the restoration work last for a long time to come.

Eudora said...

Yes, the magi in yellow, the fourth magi, the unauthentic scriptures (IV and V A.D.) say something about him...

Brian and David, you are a very lucky men.

Laurie Mann said...

I haven't seen much of Europe, but I was in Venice for three days in July 1974. During a mail strike. And a garbage strike.

Still, I'd love to go back. Even if my bathing suit did get oil stained when we went to the Lido. ;->

Diva of Deception said...

I just love the yellow coat! Are you sure David didn't buy one to wear for his shows? Or was it David we were watching? Checking for a Balducci Levitation or a Yogano Stool?

Well - you never know....

Brian Sibley said...

Good comments, Guys!

I ought to have made THIS the caption competition!!!

Yes, Eudora, you're right! I'd completely forgotten having read the story of 'The Other [Fourth] Wise Man'.