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Historian discovers the oldest drawing of Venice to date

A 14th-century image of Venice, which is regarded as the oldest representation of the City of the Doges known to date, was discovered by a researcher at St Andrews University, Scotland, the University announced in a statement.

The drawing, which was discovered by historian Sandra Toffolo, is part of a manuscript which narrates the journey of Niccolo da Poggibonsi, an Italian pilgrim who travelled to Jerusalem where he lived between 1346 and 1350.

During his pilgrimage, da Poggibonsi travelled through Venice, and his description of the city is accompanied by an ink drawing of Venice where you can see churches, gondolas and canals.

The manuscript, now kept at the National Library of Florence, was probably produced shortly after his return to Italy in 1350.

Specializing in the history of Venice during the Renaissance, Toffolo discovered the drawing in May 2019 during her research in the Florentine library, when she was preparing a monograph on the riparian city at that period, the University of St Andrews stated.

When she discovered the image, the historian realized that this view of Venice is earlier than all those previously known of the city, although maps and portolans representing the city (13th to 18th-century navigation maps) could have been previously produced.

The oldest map of Venice was made by Fra Paolino, a Franciscan friar from Venice, and dates from approximately 1330, according to the university.

“The discovery of this view of Venice has major consequences for our understanding of the city’s representations, because it shows that it already fascinated its contemporaries,” Toffolo says.

The Brussels Times

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