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Topham Society

Topham Society

Professor Deborah Howard, professor of Architectural History at Cambridge University, came to speak before supper in the Marten Library on the subject of Venice and the East. She demonstrated how it was that Venice came to be so “Easternised” in architectural appearance over its extended trading contact with the Muslim world. This was an only partly conscious development for the Venetians. Professor Howard explained the Venetian familiarity and comfort with the east, as its merchants learned their trade in these exotic lands.

Venice was the main port through which Oriental goods entered Europe, and as such its citizens, journeying up and down the Mediterranean’s east coast and even inland, slowly acquired some eastern tastes and styles. There was a specifically Egyptian theme to St Mark’s, for example, because it commemorated a relic associated with, and stolen from, Alexandria. But other factors played their part, too, such as the desire to play up to the eastern element for the passing pilgrims who were headed there.

The talk was warmly received and of interest to all. The turnout was a good one, considering the somewhat unusual timing.

Ollie Randall (RJM)


DATE POSTED: 09 February 2010

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