Feeding Pigeons in St. Mark's Place, Venice, Italy


This photochrome print of Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) in Venice is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites in Italy” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). The square, or piazza, is framed by the Saint Mark’s Basilica, the marble Doge's Palace, the Procuratie, and the library of Saint Mark's. The basilica, shown here, was originally built in 832, shortly after the remains of Saint Mark the Evangelist, the patron saint of Venice, were said to have been brought to the city from Alexandria, Egypt by two Venetian merchants. The church was destroyed in a fire, rebuilt at the end of the 10th century, and again in the 11th century. The church's exterior is elaborately decorated with gilded bronze horses dating from the mid-13th century, numerous arches and domes, marble and carvings, and Byzantine mosaics. Visible on the left is the Renaissance-styled clock tower, which dates from the 15th century. The three massive bronze flag posts flying the flag of the Kingdom of Italy and the colors of Saint Mark date from 1505, and are by the Italian sculptor and architect Alessandro Leopardi (1482–1522). The 1906 edition of Baedeker's Italy: Handbook for Travellers informed readers: "A large flock of pigeons enlivens the Piazza. In accordance with an old custom pigeons were sent out from the vestibule of San Marco on Palm Sunday, and these nested in the nooks and crannies of the surrounding buildings. . . . Towards evening they perch in great numbers under the arches of Saint Mark's. Grain and peas may be bought for the pigeons from various loungers in the Piazza."

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Detroit Publishing Company, Detroit, Michigan


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color


  • The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. They obtained exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and printing them by photolithography. This innovative process was applied to the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market. The firm became the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905.
  • Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., Catalogue J--foreign section, Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Publishing Company, 1905.
  • Print no. "8011".

Last updated: August 13, 2014