Ruskin, Interlacings


The design of interlaced circles forming a frame is a pleasing one, and has been accounted for variously:

No house front is richer in colored stones, and this has often been pointed out as a consequence of Dario's years in Byzantium. But
no such polychrome facades are known there . . .. Rather than Byzantium, it may instead reflect Dario's ego. If he wanted to make a
pretty show, he succeeded. . . . The fine materials, workmanship, and decorative treatment of the surface were matched only by the
Miracoli, parts of S Mark's, and some of the wonderful buildings made up by Carpaccio and other painters.
John McAndrew, Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance, 217.

. . . Cima da Conegliano's Healing of Anianus . . . the polychrome marble intarsias on the building in the background are remarkably
similar to those on the facade of Palazzo Dario. Giovanni Dario wanted for his house what he had seen in the work of this impressionable
painter; he wanted freedom of invention untrammeled by the rules and limitations of architectural dogma.
Vittorio Sgarbi, Ca'Dario, 118-119.

Little is known of his earlier missions to Cairo to the court of the Mamluk Sultan Qw'it Bay, but while there he seems to have noticed the
"telephone-dial" motif that he chose to adorn his own house. . . . The Venetian masons, unfamiliar with the Egyptian precedent, set the
marble discs in their interlaced Byzantinising borders by reference to local cosmatesque mosaic pavements such as that of San Marco.
Deborah Howard, Venice and the East, 153-154.

. . . Ca' Dario was the clearest example, in private architecture, of a version of the Renaissance 'alla veneta', a Venetian style,
interpreted according to the elaborate and sumptuous Lombardesque vision of the classical Plinian varietas marmorum et colorum.
The architect may also have had descriptions of Byzantine palaces in mind, such as the Comnene palace at Trebizond, which the
Venetians had visited until very recent times, and which cardinal Bessarion himself had mentioned in his writings, praising
its white marble floors, ceilings ablaze with colour and gold, the colonnades and frescos.
Ennio Concina, A History of Venetian Architecture, 160.


4th C Coptic

Sta. Maria Maggiore

Westminster Abbey, 12th C.

The design of interlaced circles has appeared in various and widespread forms. It is prominent in Byzantine stone carving of the 6th century.
It is found all over Italy in cosmatesque work on tombs, baptisteries, pulpits, floors, and the walls at Monreale. It is used on the facade of
the Miracoli, built in 1480, which surely is not to be explained by Trebizond, Cairo, and Byzantium.


However, interlacing circles are found all over San Marco -- to give only a few examples:

Over arch of central entrance

Narthex floor

Lombard cross

South facade

An archway over the main, central doorway; the narthex floor, a Lombard cross, and -- most important -- a wall insert
on the south facade which one would see coming from the water, as Dario would, coming by boat to the Palazzo.
The date of the work on Ca' Dario is unsure, except that it needs to have been done between Dario's return from Constantinople
in 1486 and his death in 1494. After reading Dario's letters, it is difficult to believe that his devotion to quella cità santa
accept any foreign model, but it is easy to believe he would have chosen ornamentation echoing and mirroring S. Marco.