Art and Facts

Carpaccio Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge

The“Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge” by Vittore Carpaccio (1492), shows the healing of a madman and on the background the original wooden structure of the Rialto Bridge, presumably before it collapsed in 1524.

Canaletto Capriccio con edifici palladiani

“Capriccio con edifici palladiani” (1756-1759), stands out among Canaletto’s numerous paintings; it shows the bridge designed by Palladio, a project involving a Classical approach that was never built.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Curiously, the Rialto Bridge is the only location in Venice mentioned by William Shakespeare in “The Merchant of Venice” (1596-1598). Shakespeare, who had never visited Venice, based his play on stories told by sailors and merchants.

“Shylock - Antonio’s a good man...

Bassanio - Have you heard anything to the contrary?

Shylock - No, no. What I meant in saying he’s a good man is that he has enough money to guarantee the loan.
But his investments are uncertain right now. He has one ship bound for Tripoli, another heading for the Indies.

What’s more, people at the Rialto tell me he has a third ship in Mexico, and a fourth in England;

as well as other business ventures throughout the world. But ships are just fragile boards, and sailors are just men. There are rats and thieves and pirates; not to mention storms, winds, and rocks. But in spite of all this, the man is still wealthy enough... three thousand ducats... Fine, I think I can let him guarantee your loan.”

The Merchant of Venice by Michael Redford

This video shows a scene from the film “The Merchant of Venice”, directed by Michael Redford in 2004, starring Al Pacino.

Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A famous and very appreciated sonnet by the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (1845-1856), is dedicated to the Bridge.

The soul's Rialto hath its merchandise;
I barter curl for curl upon that mart,
And from my poet's forehead to my heart
Receive this lock which outweighs argosies,
As purply black, as erst to Pindar's eyes
The dim purpureal tresses gloomed athwart
The nine white Muse-brows. For this counterpart,...
The bay-crown's shade, Belovèd, I surmise,
Still lingers on thy curl, it is so black!
Thus, with a fillet of smooth-kissing breath,
I tie the shadows safe from gliding back,
And lay the gift where nothing hindereth;
Here on my heart, as on thy brow, to lack
No natural heat till mine grows cold in death.

Federico Fellini Casanova, 1976

The Bridge has featured in many films. Federico Fellini’s 1976 “Casanova”, with a Carnival scene on the Grand Canal, is still remembered and has become part of the history of Cinema (even if it was entirely filmed inside a studio in Cinecittà)