Why should the Pescheria di Rialto (Fish Market), which lies on the Grand Canal, sport a portrait of the 16th century satirist, poet and pornographer, Pietro Aretino (1492-1556), the so-called 'scourge of princes'?
The answer lies not in the writer's fondness for fish, but in the location of the Palazzo Bollani, Aretino's home for many years, which lies directly opposite the market, on the other side of the Grand Canal. It seems that P. A. was fond of staring out of his window and watching the hustle and bustle of the old fish market.
Aretino arrived in Venice in 1527 and spent the rest of his life in the city, dying on October 21st, 1556. On that day the writer was carousing in a tavern with a group of friends when he let out a loud laugh and fell from his chair in an apoplectic fit. Death quickly followed. Pietro Aretino is buried in the Venetian church of San Luca.
The Pescheria di Rialto was built in 1907 and the tondo was added almost a century later, in 2001. The work of the sculptor Guerrino Lovato, the tondo is made of glazed and painted terracotta and features Aretino in profile, an inkwell and quill, a reference to his profession, and a cartouche on which is written: La Verità è Figlia del Tempo (Truth is the Daughter of Time).
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
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