• Gondola
  • Batea a coa de gambero
  • Vipera
  • Batea concordiese
  • Gondola
  • Mascareta
  • Sandolo buranelo
  • Gondola
  • Renaissance Gondola
  • Topa

There are many pictures of the gondola of the 15th and 16th centuries by artist who would certainly have been familiar with its form.

Of these works, Carpaccio's The Miracle of the Relic of the Cross was particularly useful for calculating the main measurements, based on the figure of the oarsman and known objects.

His perspective is more accurate than Bellini's and much checking and counter-checking has confirmed the main dimensions.

As may easily be verified, the painting was restored in the past in the lower left-hand corner which includes also the stem of the gondola with the Moorish gondolier.

The profile of this boat is completely different from that ofethe other gondole in the picture, which indicates that it was restored in a period by which the gondola had a less pointed profile than in Renaissance times.

Bellini's painting, however, was very usefulfor calculating the measurements of the structure because of the great precision of its detail.

Other particulars have been obtained from the painting by Mansueti, which generally confirm those in the paintings of Carpaccio and Bellini,

Jacopo de' Barbari's woodcut and Moretto's painting confirm both measurements and shape of the hull, particularly those ofthe bows and the stern, and the position of the oar-fork.

It was possible to confirm that, in that period, the gondola had a symmetrical hull with a fiat bottom and a stern with a longer overhang than the stem's.

Forward and aft there was apartial decking without camber, supported by thwarts.

Aft there was another, smaller, thwart placed just forward ofthe oar-fork. Forward, between the deck thwart and the floor-boards, there was a plank that served both as step and seat.

Amidships a thwart was placed on the side stringers while a back-rest consisting ofcmovable shelves was placed on the covering-boards.

Sometimes there was a second bench, also placed on the side stringers forward of the main thwart, to seat further passengers. The rubbing-strakes (masse or falche) were very slender.

An interesting detail, whose purpose however is not very clear, consists of a kind of moulding with an apparently semi-circular section (2 to 3 cm).

It runs 20 cm below the covering-board from the stern-post towards the main thwart where it rises with a sharp bend.

It is almost certainly not a rape attached only at its ends, while a wooden moulding would protect the side planking from the chafing ofthe oar when this was levered against the side to turn the boat.

The oar-fork con be seen to beflat and reaching a height of 70 cm above the covering-board.

There are two rests; the lower one would seem to be used when there is only one oarsman. We con guess that so simple an oar-fork would be quickly worn away by the action ofthe oar turning or slowing the boat.

The part where the oar-fork was most worn away may have suggested, as time passed, that an oar-fork would be better not flat but three dimensional.

This way it would present a widersurface to the oar at the point of friction.

The cabin (felse) was simple and functional and could have been dismantled easily.

Two arched wooden frames seem to be fixed through the covering-boards and the stringer below, while a heavy fabric cover (rassa) looking like a carpet is fixed onto horizontal battens and tied to the arches or to the sides of the boat.

On the f ore-deck there are two cross-strips ofwood to prevent slipping, and a coth (zenia) tied round the stem covers the deck down over the step and the floor-boards.

Both stems are protected by a metal band as far as the deck, where a ring-bolt is fastened. On the one protecting the stern-post there are two studs which might have been used as rudder gudgeons or which might be simply decorative.

These would appear to be the embryonic stage of the feri, seen further developed in later pictures.

The outside of the hull is completely black above the water-line. The bottom is light coloured, possibly from tallow anti-fouling.

The oar is 3.40 metres long with a biade 1/3 of the total length, as it is in thè modern one.

These are the main dimensions reconstructed from the paintings:

Length over all 9.05 m (26 Venetian feet)

Breadth 1.39 m ( 4 V. feet 8 deda)

Depth amidships 0.59 m (1 V. foot 11 deda)

These dimension are confirmed by a manuscript entitled Arte de far vaselli, (The Art of Building Ships), written by a certain Theodoro de Nicolo in about 1550. (There are two originai copies — one in the Biblioteca Marciano and the other in the Archivio di Stato in Venice).

The measurements given in the Ms are in Venetian feet and deda. In the present study the Venetian foot has been used as a standard of measurement.

A model was mode from the first outline drawing of a gondola reconstructed from the pictures.

This served in turn to confirm the shape of the hull by comparing it with the various view-points shown in the pictures.



length 90,50 cm

scale 1:10

woods: beechwood, walnut, oak, larch

finishing: lacquer

Built according to the paints of Vettor Carpaccio ( 1494-5 ) and Gentile Bellini ( 1495 approx.) with reference to other historical data collected by Riccardo Pergolis and Ugo Pizzarello