Sunday, May 18, 2008


As I've indicated in previous posts, Venice, California had many gondolas in it's heyday; as many as three dozen by some accounts.
We have two kinds of visual reference materials to determine what the gondolas looked like:
monochrome (black and white) photographs,
and postcard images.
In many cases, postcard images of the time were simply colorized or re-touched monochrome images. Rarely were they considered to be important in preserving history - they were often designed solely with aesthetics in mind. In some cases these postcard images were put together by artists, and sometimes they made mistakes or didn't render the gondolas perfectly.

So with the above factors in mind, we can't make statements with absolute certainty, but it seems that at least a few of the gondolas in Venice, California in the early part of the twentieth century, were painted colors other than black.

My post from February 25th goes into more detail regarding the colors these gondolas were painted.
Red seems to have been a popular color; either that or there was one red gondola which was featured in many postcards.
My post from April 2nd of 2008 shows a gondola with red hull-sides and tan decks.
It's entirely possible that the gondola in the above close-up was the same gondola as the one featured in the post from April 2nd.
Of course, it's also possible that the artists who colorized many of the postcards chose to deviate from the norm, although it seems unlikely with so many images with red or green gondolas, the one from my March 4th post with a white gondola, and the fact that gondolas come standard in black.
I believe we have strong evindence that the gondoliers or staff went out of their way to use other colors.

This next postcard shows a red gondola with what appears to be a brown deck.
The gondolier had good reason to roll up his sleeves with nine passengers.
After closer inspection, I think every one of the passengers was wearing some kind of a hat. My, how things have changed.

This last postcard strikes me as an example of an inaccurate rendering. The gondola is red, and has a crescent shape, but it sure seems to have been "drawn in" after the fact - like the boss said "hey, that looks great, but can you put a gondola in there? Make it a red one."

Take a look for yourself.

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