Ruskin, in The Stones of Venice which Pound would surely have known, says that the Doge’s palace was the focal building of Venetian culture as the Parthenon was of Athens, and that what it expressed was, first, that Venice was no longer governed by its best individual but by an oligarchy, and second that its public policy was determined only by commercial self-interest with religion playing no part. For those reasons Renaissance Venice, in Ruskin’s view, lost its creative energy around 1423 when the new council hall was first used, and thereafter fell into luxury and decadence. Pound’s vision of the palace with the new hall appearing to hang “baseless” in the dawn mist could accord with that, if one reads the image as not just a fine aesthetic effect after Turner, but as declaring that the culture and government of Venice had no ground under it, no virtú, no individual genius, and no enlightened vision.
David Moody. Ezra Pound: Poet. The Epic Years 1921-1939. 86.
CANTO XVII [the Venice of dreams, poetry and imagination]
CANTO XXVI [city life, history and festivities in Venice]
CANTO XXXV [Venice and commerce]
CANTO XLV [art patronage and usury]
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