Precious spices and textiles, imported from distant trading posts in the eastern Mediterranean, stocked Venetian markets in the Middle Ages; but Venice's merchants imported more than material goods from the East-they acquired also a wealth of visual ideas and information from Muslim culture. This lively and richly illustrated book investigates the influence of oriental trade and travel on medieval Venice and its architecture.
Architectural historian Deborah Howard examines the experiences of Venetian merchants overseas, focusing on links with Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, as well as with Persia and the Silk Route. She argues that many Venetians gained insight into Islamic culture through personal contacts with their Muslim trading partners. Based on wide-ranging multidisciplinary research, this book examines the mechanisms that governed the exchange of visual culture across ideological boundaries before the age of printing. Howard explores a range of building types that reflect the impact of Islamic imagery, paying special attention to two icon buildings, San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. She considers the complexities of importing Muslim ideas to an unambiguously Christian city, itself the point of embarkation for pilgrims to the Holy Land.