1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Verona
VERONA, a city and episcopal see of Venetia, Italy, the capital of the province of Verona, situated 194 ft. above sea-level in a loop made by the winding of the Adige (anc. Alhesis). Pop. (1906) 61,618 (town); 79,574 (commune). It is 93 m. E. of Milan and 71 m. W. of Venice by rail, and is also the point of departure of the main lines to Mantua and Modena and to the Brenner, while a branch line runs N.W. to Caprino, another S.E- to Legnago, and steam tramways to Cologna Veneta, Coriano and S. Giacomo.
The basilica of S. Zeno (an early bishop of Verona who became its patron saint), which stands outside the ancient city, is one Churches. of the most interesting Romanesque churches in Italy. The church was remodelled in 1139, to which period much of the existing structure belongs, including the richly sculptured west front and the open confessio or crypt, which occupies the eastern half of the church, raising the choir high above the nave. The nave, dating from the nth century, is supported by alternate columns and pillars, and contains frescoes of the nth-i4th centuries. The cloisters of S. Zeno, rebuilt in n 23, are an interesting example of brick and marble construction. Like many other churches in Verona, S. Zeno is mainly built of mixed brick and stone in alternate bands: four or five courses of fine red brick lie between bands of hard cream- coloured limestone or marble, forming broad stripes of red and white all over the wall. A similarly variegated effect in red and white is produced by building the arches of windows and doors with alternating voussoirs in brick and marble. The neighbour- hood of Verona is especially rich in fine limestones and marbles of many different kinds, especially a close-grained cream- coloured marble and a rich mottled red marble, which are largely used, not only in Verona, but also in Venice and other cities of the province. The same quarry produces both kinds, and indeed the same block is sometimes half red and half white. On the north side of the church is a lofty tower, called the tower of Peppin; while the slender brick campanile on the south dates from 1045 to 1178.
The cathedral, consecrated in 1187 by Pope Urban III., stands at the northern extremity of the ancient city, by the bank of the Adige; it is inferior in size and importance to S. Zeno, but has a fine 12th-century west front of equal interest, richly decorated with na'ive Romanesque sculpture (1135). The rest of the exterior is built in bands of red and white, with slightly pro- jecting pilasters along the walls; it has a noble cloister, with two storeys of arcading. The campanile by Sanmichele is unfinished. Its baptistery, rebuilt early in the 1 2th century , is a quite separate building, with nave and apse, forming a church dedicated to S. Giovanni in Fonte. Pope Lucius III., who held a council at Verona in n 84, is buried in the cathedral, under the pavement before the high altar. The Dominican church of S. Anastasia is a mine of wealth in early examples of painting and sculp- ture, and one of the finest buildings in Italy of semi-Gothic style. It consists of a nave in six bays, aisles, transepts, each with two eastern chapels, and an apse, all vaulted with simple quadripartite brick groining. It was begun in 1261, but not completed till 1422, and is specially remarkable for its very beautiful and complete scheme of coloured decoration, much of which is contemporary with the building. The vaults are grace- fully painted with floreated bands along the ribs and central patterns in each " cell," in rich soft colours on a white plastered ground. The eastern portion of the vaulting, including the choir and one bay of the nave, has the older and simpler decorations; the rest of the nave has more elaborate painted ornament â€” foliage mixed with figures of Dominican saints, executed in the 15th century. There are many fine frescoes in the interior ranging from c. 1300 (knights kneeling before the Virgin) to the 15th century, including Pisanello's beautiful painting of St George (mentioned below). This church also contains a large number of fine sculptured tombs of the 14th and 15th centuries, with noble effigies and reliefs of saints and sacred subjects. It is mainly built of red brick, with fine nave columns of red and white marble and an elaborate marble pave- ment inlaid in many different patterns. Its general proportions are specially noble, and the exterior view is good. The church of S. Fermo Maggiore comes next in interest. With the exception of the crypt, which is older, the existing edifice was rebuilt in 1313. The facade is of brick and marble used alter- nately. The plan is unusual, consisting of a large nave without aisles, the span being between 45 and 50 ft.; it also has two shallow transepts and an apsidal east end. The roof, which is especially magnificent, is the finest example of a class which as a rule is only found in Venetia or in churches built by Venetian architects in Istria and other subject provinces: the framing is concealed by coving or barrel-vaulting in wood, the surface of which is divided into small square panels, all painted and gilt, giving a very rich effect. In this case the 14th and 15th century painted decorations are well preserved. Delicate patterns cover all the framework of the panelling and fill the panels themselves; at two stages, where there is a check in the line cf the coving, rows of half-figures of saints are minutely painted on blue or gold grounds, forming a scheme of indescribably splendid decoration. A simpler roof of the same class exists at S. Zeno; it is trefoil-shaped in section, with a tie-beam joining the cusps. The church of S. Maria in Organo, dating from 1481, with a facade of 1592 from Sanmichele's designs, contains paintings by various Veronese masters, and some fine choir-stalls of 1499 by Fra Gioconda. Though not built till after his death, the church of S. Giorgio in Braida, on the other side of the river, was also designed by Sanmichele, and possesses many good pictures of the Veronese school. The Romanesque church of S. Lorenzo, re- stored in 1896-1898, contains old frescoes. S. Stefano is another Romanesque church, probably of the nth century. There are several other fine churches in Verona, some of early date. One of the 14th century is dedicated to Thomas a. Becket of Canter- bury.
The strongly fortified castle (Castel Vecchio) built by the Delia Scala lords in the 14th century stands cm the line of the wall of Theodoric, close by the river. A very picturesque Bridges and fortifications. battlemented bridge leads from it to the other shore, and sloping down over three arches of different sizes, the largest next to the castle and the smallest at the other end. There are four other bridges across the Adige: one, the graceful Ponte di Pietra, rests upon ancient foundations, while the two arches nearest to the left bank are Roman; but it has been frequently restored. Remains of another ancient bridge were found in the river itself in 1891 behind S. Anastasia. The 16th-century lines of fortification enclose a very much larger area than the Roman city, forming a great loop to the west, and also including a considerable space on the left bank of the river. In the latter part of the city, on a steep elevation, stands the castle of St Peter, originally founded by Theodoric, on the site, perhaps, of the earliest citadel, mostly rebuilt by Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1393, and dismantled by the French in 1801. This and the other fortifications of Verona were rebuilt or repaired by the Austrians, but are no longer kept up as military defences. Verona, which is the chief military centre of the Italian province of Venetia, is now being surrounded with a circle of forts far outside the obsolete city walls.
The early palaces of Verona, before its conquest by Venice, were of noble and simple design, mostly built of fine red brick, with an inner court, surrounded on the ground floor Palaces. by open arches like a cloister, as, for example, the Palazzo della Ragione, an assize court, begun in the 12th century. The arches, round or more often pointed in form, were decorated with moulded terra-cotta enrichments, and often with alternating voussoirs of marble. The Scaligeri Palace is a fine example, dating from the 14th century, with, in the cortile, an external staircase leading to an upper loggia, above the usual arcade on the ground floor. It has a lofty campanile, surmounted by a graceful octagonal upper storey. This palace is said to have been mainly built by Can Signorio (Della Scala) about 1370. After the conquest by Venice the domestic buildings of Verona assumed quite a different type. They became feeble copies of Venetian palaces, in which one form of window, with an ogee arch, framed by the dentil moulding, is almost always used. The monotony and lifelessness of this form of architecture are shown in the meaningless way in which details, suited only to the Venetian methods of veneering walls with thin marble slabs, are copied in the solid marbles of Verona. From the skill of Fra Giocondo, Verona was for many years one of the chief centres in which the most refined and graceful forms of the early Renaissance were developed. The town hall, with its light open loggia of semicircular arches on the ground floor, was designed by Fra Giocondo towards the end of the 15th century; its sculptured enrichments of pilasters and friezes are very graceful, though lacking the vigorous life of the earlier medieval sculptured ornamentation. Verona contains a number of handsome palaces designed by Sanmichele in the 16th century. The finest are those of the Bevilacqua, Canossa and Pompeii families. The last of these is now the property of the city, and contains a gallery with some good pictures, especially of the Verona, Padua and Venice schools. As in Venice, many of the 16th-century palaces in Verona had stuccoed facades, richly decorated with large fresco paintings, often by very able painters. Verona, perhaps, had as many of these paintings as any town in Italy, but comparatively few are preserved and those only to a small extent. The domestic architecture of Verona cannot thus be now fairly estimated, and seems monotonous, heavy and uninteresting. The house of the painter Niccolo Giolfino still has its frescoes in a good state of preservation, and gives a vivid notion of what must once have been the effect of these gorgeous pictured palaces. The episcopal palace contains the ancient and valuable chapter library, of about 12,000 volumes and over 500 MSS., among them the palimpsest of the Institutiones of Gaius which Niebuhr discovered. The Piazza delle Erbe (fruit and vegetable market) Squares and the Pazza dei Signori, adjoining one another in the oldest part of the city, are very picturesque and beautiful, being surrounded by many fine medieval buildings, several of them of a public character (Palazzo dei Giureconsulti, Palazzo della Ragione and the lofty Torre Civica, 273 ft. high), while in the north-east corner of the latter Piazza is the fine early Renaissance Palazzo del Consiglio (1476-1492), probably designed by Fra Giocondo. In the former Piazza a copy of the lion of Venice has been erected.
The Roman remains of Verona surpass those of any other city of northern Italy. The most conspicuous of them is the great Roman amphitheatre, a building perhaps of the end of the 1st remains, century A.D., which in general form closely resembled the Colosseum in Rome. Its axes measured 505 and 404 ft. Almost the whole of its external arcades, with three tiers of arches, have now disappeared; it was partly thrown down by an earthquake in 1184, and subsequently used to supply building materials. Many of its blocks are still visible in the walls of various medieval buildings. The interior, with seats for about 25,000 people, has been frequently restored, till nothing of the old seats exists. There are also remains of a well-preserved Roman theatre, close to the left bank of the river. A number of fine sculptures were found in the square in front of the cathedral in 1890, and architectural fragments belonging to some public building. In 1884-86 portions of a number of fine mosaic pavements were discovered extending over a very large area under the cloister and other parts of the cathedral, about 7 ft. below the present ground level. They had geometric patterns with birds, trees, &c, and bore inscriptions in mosaic with the names of the donors. Parts oi them had been discovered previously. They seem to belong to two different buildings, both early churches of the 5th and 6th centuries a.d. (cf. Notizie degli Scavi, 1884, 401). For the two triumphal arches (Porta dei Bosari and Porta dei Leoni) see below. The Museo Lapidario contains a fine collection of Roman and Etruscan inscriptions and sculpture, mostly collected and published by Scipione Maffei in the 18th century.
Veronese Art. â€” In many respects the resemblance between Verona and Florence is very striking; in both cases we have a strongly fortified city built in a fertile valley, on the banks of a winding river, with suburbs on higher ground, rising close above the main city. In architectural magnificence and in wealth of sculpture and painting Verona almost rivalled the Tuscan city, and, like it, gave birth to a very large number of artists who distinguished themselves in all branches of the fine arts.
Painting in Verona may be divided into four periods, (i.) The first period is characterized by wall paintings of purely native style, Palatini. c lÂ° se 'y resembling the early Christian pictures in the catacombs of Rome. Examples dating from the 10th to the 11th century have been discovered hidden by whitewash on the oldest parts of the nave walls of the church of S. Zeno. They are a very interesting survival of the almost classical . Roman style of painting, and appear to be quite free from the generally prevalent Byzantine influence, (ii.) The Byzantine period seems to have
lasted during the 12th and 13th centuries, (iii.) The Giottesque period begins contemporaneously with Altichiero da Zevio and Giacomo degli Avanzi, whose chief works were executed during the second half of the 14th century. These two painters were among the ablest of Giotto's followers, and adorned Verona and Padua with a number of very beautiful frescoes, rich in composition, delicate in colour, and remarkable for their highly finished modelling and detail. (iv.) To the fourth period belong several important painters. Pisanello or Vittore Pisano, a charming painter and the greatest medallist of Italy, was probably a pupil of Altichiero. Most of his frescoes in Verona have perished; but one of great beauty still exists in a very perfect state in the church of S. Anastasia, high up over the arched opening into one of the eastern chapels of the south transept. The scene represents St George and the Princess after the conquest of the Dragon, with accessory figures, the sea, a mountainous landscape and an elaborately painted city in the background. The only other existing fresco by Pisanello is an Annunciation in S. Fermo Maggiore. For Pisanello's pupils and other painters of subsequent date, see Painting. These include Liberale da Verona, Domenico and Francesco Morone, Girolamo dai Libri (1474-1556), &c. Domenico del Riccio, usually nicknamed Brusasorci (1494-1567), was a prolific painter whose works are very numerous in Verona. Paolo Cagliari or Paul Veronese, and the Bonifagios, though natives of Verona, belong rather to the Venetian school. Verona is specially rich in early examples of decorative sculpture, (i.) The first period is that of northern or Lombardic influence, exemplified in the very interesting series of reliefs which cover the western facades of the church of S. Zeno and the cathedral, dating from the 12th-century. These reliefs represent both sacred subjects and scenes of war and hunting, mixed with grotesque monsters, such as specially delighted the rude, vigorous nature of the Lombards; they are all richly decorative in effect, though strange and unskilful in detail. Part of the western bronze doors of S. Zeno are especially interesting as being among the earliest important examples in Italy of cast bronze reliefs. They are frequently stated to be of beaten bronze, but they are really castings, apparently by the cire perdue process. They represent scenes from the life of S. Zeno, are rudely modelled, and yet very dramatic and sculpturesque in style. Parts of these doors are covered with bronze reliefs of scenes from the Bible, which are of still earlier date, and were probably brought to Verona from the Rhine provinces. Many of the 12th century reliefs and sculptured capitals in S. Zeno are signed by the sculptor but these merely constitute lists of names about whom nothing is known, (ii.) In the 13th century the sculpture seems to have lost the Lombard vigour, without acquiring any qualities of superior grace or refinement. The font in the baptistery near the cathedral is an early example of this. Each side of the octagon is covered with a large relief of a Biblical fubject, very dull in style and coarse in execution. The font itself is inter- esting for its early form, one common in the chief baptisteries of northern Italy : like an island in the centre of the great octagonal tankisalobed marble receptacle, in which the officiating priest stood while he immersed the catechumens. A movable wooden bridge must have been used to enable the priest to cross the water in the surrounding tank. (iii.) The next period is that of Florentine influence. This is exemplified in the magnificently sculptured tombs of the Della. Scala lords, designed with steadily growing splendour, from the simple sarcophagus of Martino I. down to the elaborate erection over the tomb of the fratricide Can Signorio, adorned with statuettes of the virtues, to the possession of which he could lay so little claim. The recumbent effigies and decorative details of these tombs are very beautiful, but the smaller figures of angels, saints and virtues are rather clumsy in proportion. The latest tomb, that of Can Signorio, erected during his lifetime (c. 1370), is signed " Boninus de Campigliono Mediolanensis Dioecesis." This sculptor, though of Milanese origin, belongs really to the school of the Florentine Andrea Pisano. One characteristic of the 14th and 15th centuries in Verona v/as the custom, also followed in other Lom- bardic cities, of setting large equestrian statues over the tombs of powerful military leaders, in some cases above the recumbent effigy of the dead man, as if to represent him in full vigour of life as well as in death. That which crowns the canopy over the tomb of Can Grande is a very noble, though somewhat quaint, work, (iv.) In the 15th century the influence of Venice became paramount, though this was really only a further development of the Florentine manner, Venice itself having been directly influenced in the 14th century by many able sculptors from Florence.
The architecture of Verona, like its sculpture, passed through Lombard, Florentine and Venetian stages,Architecture. (i.) The church of S. Zeno and thecathedral, both of which were mainly rebuilt in the 12th century, are noble examples oi the Lombardic style, with few single-light windows, and with the walls decorated externally by series of pilasters, and by alternating bands of red and white, in stone or brick. The arches of this period are semicircular and rest on round columns and capitals, richly carved with grotesque figures and foliage. Most of the external ornamenta- tion is usually concentrated on the western front, which often has a lofty arched porch on marble columns, resting on griffins or lions devouring their orey. (iL) The Florentine period (c. 1250 to 1400) is represented by the church of S. Anastasia, and by many more or less mutilated palaces, with fine courts surrounded by arcades in one or more storeys. The arches are mostly pointed, and in other respects the influence of northern Gothic was more direct in Verona than in Florence. Solidity of mass and simplicity of detail are among the characteristics of this period, (iii.) The Venetian period (f. 1400-1480) was one of little originality or vigour, the buildings of this date being largely rather dull copies of those at Venice. _(iv.) The early Renaissance developed into very exceptional beauty in Verona, mainly through the genius of Fra Giocondo (1435-1514), a native of Verona, who was at first a friar in the monastery of S. Maria in Organo. He rose to great celebrity as an architect, and designed many graceful and richly sculptured buildings in Venice, Rome and even in France; he used classical forms with great taste and skill, and with much of the freedom of the older medieval archi- tects, and was specially remarkable for his rich and delicate sculptured decorations. Another of the leading architects of the next stage of the Renaissance was the Veronese Michele Sanmichele ( 1484-1 559) , a great military engineer, and designer of an immense number of magnificent palaces in Verona and other cities of Venetia. His buildings are stately and graceful in proportion, but show a tendency towards dull scholastic classicism. The facades of his palaces were in the lower storey only decorated by rustication, of which he made great use, while the upper part was intended to be decorated with frescoes, which (as we have said) have in most cases perished. To hirn are also due the various gates and the most important bastions in the walls of Verona. In consequence of the disastrous flood of 1882, important embankment works were executed along the Adige at a cost of Â£300,000. These works preclude all danger of future inundation. In addition to the Adige embankment, other hydraulic works have been either completed or undertaken. An irrigation canal, deriving water from the Sega, furnishes 11 J cubic metres per second to the fields of the upper Veronese district. The Camuzzoni industrial canal, which runs from the Chievo di S. Massimo to the suburb of Tombetta, furnishes 26 cubic metres of water per second, and generates 4000 horse-power. The cutting of this canal led to the construction of an aqueduct for drinking water, which, besides supplying the city, furnishes an ice factory with enough water to make 200 quintals of ice per day. The motive- power generated by the Camuzzoni canal is utilized by a large nail factory, flour mills, paper mills, cotton mills and works for the distribution of electric energy.
The Adige embankment gave an impetus to building enterprise, the banks of the river being now flanked by villas and large dwelling- houses.
History. â€” The ancient Verona was a town of the Cenomani, a Gaulish tribe, whose chief town was Brixia. It became a Latin colony in 89 B.C. and, acquiring citizenship with the rest of Gallis Transpadana in 49 B.C., became a municipium. Tacitus wrongly speaks of it as a colony; but it appears to have received a new colony under Gallienus. In the time of Augustus it was inferior to Patavium in importance, but on a par with Mediolanum, and superior to Brixia and other towns of the district. Inscrip- tions testify to its importance â€” among others one which indi- cates that it was the headquarters of the collectors of the 5% inheritance tax under the Empire in Italy beyond the Po. Its territory stretched as far as Hostilia on the Padus (Po), 30 m. to the south, and was extensive on other sides also, though its exact limits are uncertain. It was an important point in the road system of the district, lying on that between Mediolanum and Aquileia, while here diverged to the north the roads up the Athesis valley and over the Brenner into Raetia, and to the south roads ran to Betriacum, Mantua and Hostilia. It was the birthplace of the poet Catullus. In a.d. 69 it became the head- quarters of the legions which were siding with Vespasian. Its fertile surroundings, its central position at the junction of several great roads, and the natural strength of its position, defended by a river along two-thirds of its circumference, all combined to make Verona one of the richest and most important cities in northern Italy, although its extent within the walls was not large. The existing remains of walls and gates date from the period between the 3rd of April and the 4th of December of the year 265. A very handsome triumphal arch, now called the Porta de' Borsari, was restored in this year by Gallienus (as the inscription upon it, which has taken the place of an older one, cancelled to make room for it, records), and became one of the city gates. It is a double arch, and above it are two orders of smaller arcades. The same was the case with the Porta dei Leoni, another rather similar triumphal arch on the east of the city, and with a third arch, the Arco dei Gavi, demolished in 1805. This last seems to have belonged to the 1st century a.d. ; remains of it are preserved in the amphitheatre. It took its name from the family in whose honour it was erected; the architect was one L. Vitruvius Cerdo, possibly a pupil and freedman of the famous writer on architecture. The Porta dei Leoni, on the other hand, bears the name of Tiberius Flavius Noricus, a quattuorvir iure dicundo, i.e. one of the four chief magistrates of the city (probably 2nd century a.d.). The original line of walls did not include the amphitheatre, but passed N.E. of it; it was, however, afterwards included in the enceinte as a kind of massive corner tower. The emperor Constantine, while advancing towards Rome from Gaul, besieged and took Verona (312); it was here, too, that Odoacer was defeated (499) by Theodoric the Goth, Dietrich von Bern â€” i.e. Verona â€” of German legends, who built a castle at Verona and frequently resided there. He enlarged the fortified area by constructing a wall and ditch (now called Adigetto) straight across the loop, to the S.W. of the amphitheatre, and also built thermae and restored the acqueducts, which had long been out of use.
In the middle ages Verona gradually grew in size and im- portance. Alboin, the Lombard king, captured it in 568, and it was one of the chief residences of the Lombard, and later of the Frankish, monarchs; and though, like other cities of northern Italy, it suffered much during the Guelph and Ghibelline struggles, it rose to a foremost position both from the political and the artistic point of view under its various rulers of the Scaliger or Delia Scala family. The first prominent member of this family and founder of his dynasty was Mastino I. della Scala, who ruled over the city from 1260 till his death in 1277. Verona had previously fallen under the power of a less able despot, Ezzelino da Romano, who died in 1259. Alberto del-la Scala (died in 1301) was succeeded by his eldest son Bartolomeo, who was confirmed as ruler of Verona by the popular vote, and died in 1304. It was in his time that Romeo and Juliet are said to have lived. Alboino, the second son, succeeded his brother, and died in 1311, when the youngest son of Alberto, Can Grande, who since 1308 had been joint-lord of Verona with his brother, succeeded to the undivided power. Can Grande (Francesco della Scala, d. 1329) was the best and most illustrious of his line, and is specially famous as the hospitable patron of Dante (q.v.). Other princes of this dynasty, which lasted for rather more than a century, were Giovanni (d. 1350), Mastino II. (d. 1351), Can Grande II. (d. 1359) and Can Signorio (d. 1375). In 1389 Gian Galeazzo Visconti, duke of Milan, became by conquest lord of Verona. Soon after his death the city fell by treacherous means into the hands of Francesco II. di Carrara, lord of Padua. In 1404-1405 Verona, together with Padua, was finally conquered by Venice, and remained subject to the Venetians till the overthrow of the republic by Napoleon in 1797, who in the same year, after the treaty of Campo Formio, ceded it to the Austrians with the rest of Venetia. They fortified it strongly in 1814, and with Peschiera, Mantua and Legnago it formed part of the famous quadrilateral which until 1866 was the chief support of their rule in Italy.
- The valuable collection of works of art once preserved in the Bevilacqua Palace has long been dispersed.
- There is every reason to doubt Vasari's statement that Pisanello was a pupil of Andrea del Castagno.
- See an eloquent description by Ruskin, Stones of Venice, iii. pp. 70 seq.
- The view of some scholars is that the original walls were earlier than the time of Gallienus, who reconstructed them on the old lines, taking in, however, the amphitheatre.