Max Peiffer Watenphul
Thoughts on Venice
Venezia, a magic word at whose utterance this fairytale city of the lagoon rises before us like a Fata Morgana: a mother-of-pearl-hued formation of marble and apricot-hued stones, magnificent, proud, royal, and unique.
Seldom has a city so moved the feelings of people and inspired their fantasy as has Venice. Painters have painted her, poets sung of her, and musicians have sought to express her mystery in melodies and to interpret this most exceptional and most fairytale-like creation of the human spirit.
There has never been a more artificial creation than this urban formation. On little alluvial islands of the lagoon, an entirely distinct culture has arisen, entirely independent and with no relation to other cultures, with its own language, its own architecture, its own painting, and its own music.
What is characteristic of this culture is that it has been able to create artistic structures of the greatest sophistication out of utterly worthless raw materials.
A spool of worthless thread is turned into the most precious lace. A handful of sand is turned into fragile, dazzling glasses as delicate as the blooms of flowers.
Venice is the city of light. It takes form through light. Without the sun, it collapses and is disenchanted. Light gives life to its fašades and makes the cupolas of San Marco resplendent. Venice is most beautiful in the autumn and in the spring before dusk.
Everything glitters like mother of pearl and is delicately iridescent. People flood suddenly over the rolling bridges and the piazza, everything is lively and breezy. Blue and gold fog gently veils the city, and above the fog, the departing sun gilds the Campanile and the cupolas of San Marco.
In Max Peiffer Watenphul. Werkverzeichnis, vol. I. Grace Watenphul Pasqualucci and Alessandra Pasqualucci, eds. (Cologne, 1989).