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Piazza San Marco, Venice.

January 8, 2012

St. Mark’s Square is a busy place, overflowing with tourist and buzzing with activities. Restorations were being carried out on the Clocktower and the Basilica, and with the construction hoarding in some areas; the square appears extremely busy and congested. I wanted to sketch the Tower together with the Basilica but because the entire square was dominated by the overflow of the bars and restaurants I could not find a location where I could sit privately and sketch. As a result Daphne and I had to sit in a restaurant precinct, and were obliged to purchase tea and pastry. At least I was able to sketch without being interrupted.

I started by sketching the north end of the Libreria to the left side of my sketchbook, illustrated by the colonnade elevation and the cantilevered awning. To the right side of my page I then added the other colonnade façade of the Procuratie Vecchie together with the clock tower.

Since I have never seen the square without the construction hoarding I included it, and I filled in the foreground with people at table and chairs. Finally the Basilica of San Marco, at the eastern end of the Piazza, was sketched as the focus of the composition.


  1. Catrina permalink

    This is beautifully brilliant. You have given us a front row seat as to what you see through your eyes. What I find most inspiring about your interpretation are the whimsical domes in the background to the far left of the sketch. In combination with the tower, the two provide a very satisfying focal point for the viewer. This allows for a very natural flow viewing the image from left to right, which proves interesting because this is probably how you mapped and interpreted everything you saw in your mind. Ironically, in comparison to your digital image of the scenery, the sketch has a feeling of even more ornateness and intricacy!

  2. Errol Hugh permalink

    I did search around for this station point; unfortunately I had to sit at a restaurant table and order drinks and appetizers. But that gave me time to develop the sketch in greater detail than if I was standing and sketching.

    Your analysis of my sketch is exactly as I executed it: sketching from the left and extending to the right; the “whimsical” domes (as you called them) at the upper level of the San Marco Basilica; the Campanile tower; and then the western façade of Doge’s Palace. Yes, you are correct. The Basilica is the focal point of the sketch; because I was fascinated by the extensive Romanesque and Gothic façade detailing, however since it is in the background of the sketch the detailing is only somewhat “implied”. Thanks for your excellent, original and visual comments.

    The Piazza is a fascinating place to experience. The architectural detailing, the scale of the buildings and their majestic placement around the piazza exhibits a splendor of enchantment unique to Venice alone. To be present here was an unforgettable experience.

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