28. Nazzareno Cipriani
(Rome 1843 – 1925)
Signed and annotated Roma l.r.
Watercolour on paper, 30.5 x 61.5 cm
Venetian gondolas are always painted black. The origin of this was a severe epidemic of the plague that hit the city in 1562. The victims bodies were transported by gondola. The formerly colourful gondolas were painted black at this time as a tribute to the dead. Later this even became regulated by law. Another explanation for the uniformely coloured gondolas could be the decree issued by the Doge in 1652 concerning social equality. Over the years families had been decorating their private gondolas more and more. By obliging every gondola to be painted black, the Doge wanted to enforce the appearance a greater level of social equility. The fact that the colour black was chosen lies in the use of tar for the boats.