From 828, when Venetian merchants carried home from Alexandria the stolen relics of St. Mark, to the partitioning of the conquered Venetian Republic by Napoleon in 1797, the visual arts in Venice were dramatically influenced by Islamic art. Because of its strategic location on the Mediterranean, Venice had long imported objects from the Near East through channels of trade, and it flourished during this particular period as a commercial, political, and diplomatic hub. This monumental book examines how and why artistic and cultural ideas that originated in the Islamic world were absorbed and elaborated in Venice. "Venice and the Islamic World" features paintings and drawings by familiar Venetian artists such as Bellini, Titian, and Giorgione, along with printed books, tapestries and carpets, inlaid metalwork, ceramics, lacquered wood, enamelware, and gilded glass - decorative artworks by both Venetian craftsmen and from contemporaneous Venetian collections representing the Mamluks in Egypt, the Ottomans in Turkey, and the Safavids in Iran.
Together these exquisite objects illuminate the ways Venetian art was visually and ideologically indebted to and inspired by Islamic art, while highlighting Venice's own view toward the region. Fascinating essays by distinguished scholars and conservators offer new historical and technical insights into this unique artistic relationship between East and West.
Stefano Carboni is associate curator in the department of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.