St. Mark's Clocktower

St. Mark’s Clocktower, located on the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, is an architectural representation of an analog and digital clock with the added embellishments of a Madonna and child, a winged lion, the symbol of Venice, and a bell which two bronze statues (the Moors) ring. The Madonna and Child are made of bronze, and they rest above the analog clock, seemingly looking down over time and space. Space is included in this clock because of the use of the zodiac signs on the clock face, as well as the representation of the Ptolemaic universe in which the sun rotates around the Earth (though the Earth has since been removed from the clock as the Copernican theory of space has become accepted). The Madonna and Child harken back to the Byzantine ideals of anagogic space, and twice a year, at Epiphany and on Ascension Day, the three Magi appear from a doorway which is usually covered by panels displaying a digital clock face. These three Magi, led by an angel, proceed across the clock face and bow to the Madonna and Child. This procession was broken for a long period of time following construction, but in a series of repairs led by Bartolomeo Ferracina from 1757 to 1759, their sequence was fixed. On top of this, the digital clock from which these three magi emerge was also a part of a restoration and enhancement project. In an effort led by Luigi de Lucia from 1858-1866, panels were made in the doorways next to the Madonna and Child which displayed the hour on the left and the minutes on the right, changing every five minutes. One interesting detail about the placement of the Madonna and Child as opposed to the winged lion, is that the lion is raised higher than the other figures, thus implying a sort of superiority of state over religious symbology. 

Sources used:

Muraro, Michelangelo. “The Moors of the Clock Tower of Venice and Their Sculptor.” The Art Bulletin 66.4 (2014): 603-609. College Art Association. Web. 28 Feb. 2018.   

“St. Mark’s Clocktower.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Jan. 2018. Web. 28 Feb. 2018.

Image provided courtesy of 

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

1496 to 1499