Sunday, October 2, 2011

That's Amore Part II ( Lions of Venice)

Venice is

La Serenissima
The Most Serene

The lion of Venice, the city's symbol of power since the Medici rule, 
 on the clock tower in the Piazza San Marco.
The lion's tablet is inscribed in Latin,
 'Pax tibi, Marce, evangelista meus'
('Peace to you, O Mark, my evangelist') 

Lion of Venice medallion painted
by Beth Dean on the interior of her front doors

I love juxtaposition in my life and in my design work.
Mostly old with a little new, earthy with elegant, indoor with outdoor . . .
Combining opposites makes life and interiors realistic, interesting, and authentic.

Maybe that is why I do love Italy so much . . .

Italy is what I look for in life and design.  Italy is rustic AND refined. 

 In contrast with my first love,  the rustic (rustico), straightforward Italy of Tuscany, is my second and equal love the refined (ruffinato), romantic and somewhat mysterious Italy of Venice.   

As much as I love the more rustic decor of Tuscany, I also love the more refined  Venetian design elements. 

Therien, 18th century Venetian Canape

Therien, 18th century, Venetian Lacca Povera Secretaire

"Venetian Atelier" by Robert Leedy

Marble Bust, mid 1700's

Venetian carved giltwood console, ca 1730

"Venetian Interior" by Robert Leedy

Venetian carved giltwood with petit and gros point needlework upholstery, ca 1730

Venetian mid 18th century carved giltwood and painted faux marble mirror

I am a huge fabric person, and one of my very favorite fabric lines is the famous Fortuny, originally designed and made by
 Mariano Fortuny in Venice,
 definitely a lion of Venice.

Mariano Fortuny

The workmanship and COLORS of the fabrics are impeccable.  I want to use them all.  The Tuscan harvest palette I love gives way to more of a jewel tone palette here.

Fortuny tableskirt in the Italian studio of artist Cy Twombly,
taken in the 1960's by Horst for Vogue
The artist's work is on the wall.

  I noticed that the colors of the Fall 2011 Gucci line remind me of my favorite rich Fortuny fabric colors.


And the Gucci and Fortuny both reminded me of this Venetian gondola.

The next time I visit Venice I am not going to miss the Fortuny showroom and museum.

Fortuny Melagrana
Midnight Blue and Silver

Fortuny Melagrana
Marmalade and Silver

Fortuny Fiaccola
Rembrandt Rust, Straw and Silvery Gold

Fortuny Melagrana
Green and Silver

Mariano Fortuny's paints

My design and artist friend Beth Dean also loves to visit and paint in Venice.

Beth Dean Photo
Beth posing with the replicas of the well-travelled
 bronze horses of the Basilica San Marco.
 The originals are now inside, protected from the elements,
and are believed to date from the 8th or 9th century.
In 1204, they were looted by Venetian forces as
part of the sack of the capital of the Byzantine Empire
 in the Fourth Crusade.

San Marco Horses by Canneletto, mid 1700's

Beth Dean Photo
Beth sketching on the steps of Santa Maria delle Salute in Venice,
 built in the mid 1600's to honor the Virgin Mary for stopping the plague
which had killed one third of Venice's citizens. Gondoliers take their oars there to be blessed.

Beth Dean photo
Italian waiters in the Piazza San Marco

"Does She Have a Sister for Me?" by Beth Dean
Oil on Canvas

 A few of the young lions of Venice . . .


 Who doesn't appreciate a stylish, handsome Italian man?

Beth's facial studies . . .

David's Eye

"Bella Venezia" by Beth Green
Oil on Canvas

Coming soon to Berdorf Goodman
 in New York, a celebration of Fortuny . . .

Mary Jane McCarty photo

Fortuny pillows at Bergdorf's from

Mary Jane McCarty photo

Mary Jane McCarty photo

Cabinet in the New York Fortuny showroom. 
 The fabulous Barry Dixon has recently designed Fortuny's showrooms.


Mary Jane McCarty photo

Perhaps a cake in the Fortuny Granada pattern for the party?

And a Mae Downs & Company Fortuny sachet favor?

When the moon hits your eye
 Like a big pizza pie, that's amore
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine, that's amore
"That's Amore"
Dean Martin

Daybed pillows in Fortuny Impero in copper and silvery gold.

And of course, I never forget how my love of all things Italian began long ago . . .

My first Italian Lion, Dean Martin

And my forever lion, my Daddy, taken on a recent birthday
 at his favorite ITALIAN restaurant, but that is another story



Special Thanks to:

Beth Dean Studio
and on Facebook at Beth Dean Studio
 Accepting Commissions

Philip Bewley

Mary Jane McCarty

For more information on preserving
the treasure that is Venice,
please visit

Photo Credits:  Beth Dean, Therien, Robert Leedy, Fortuny, Vogue, Gucci, Marilyn Storey, Bergdorf Goodman, Mary Jane McCarty, Kevin McLaughlin, Traditional Home


  1. my favorite place on Earth- makes me miss my Italian Mom so much and all the passion she raised me with - the art - the food -music- architecture and warmth
    thanks for the post- MTS- nice Dad by the way

  2. Wow, what a fantastic "trip" you just took me on - thank you! I love fortuny, especially used in beautiful shades for lighting... I loved the pictures of the Italian men too. :) I always want to capture some but always do it as they are walking away because I am too shy to ask - maybe next time I should!


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