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Ca d'Oro

John Ruskin1845

The Ruskin Library

The Ruskin Library

Returning to Venice in 1845 for the first time alone, Ruskin was horrified to find much restoration under way on many of the older churches and palaces which to him were the glories of the city. “What an unhappy day I spent yesterday,” he wrote to his father on 23 September, “before the Casa d’Oro, vainly attempting to draw it while the workmen were hammering it down before my face.” This must be such a drawing, as it is dated 1845 and clearly shows some of the irregularity and decay on the building’s façade, which was in the process of being ‘restored.’

Named after the gilding originally applied to its decorative carving, the Ca (or Casa, ‘House’) d’Oro was built between 1420 and 1434. In the ‘Venetian Index’ to The Stones of Venice (1853), Ruskin describes it as “a noble pile of very quaint Gothic, once superb in general effect, but now destroyed by restorations. I saw the beautiful slabs of red marble, which formed the bases of its balconies, and were carved into noble spiral mouldings of strange sections, half a foot deep, dashed to pieces when I was last in Venice [1851-2]; its glorious interior staircase, by far the most interesting Gothic monument of the kind in Venice, had been carried away, piece by piece, and sold for waste marble, two years before. Of what remains, the most beautiful portions are, or were, when I last saw them, the capitals of the windows in the upper storey, most glorious sculpture of the fourteenth century.”

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