This column at the Biennale Gardens intrigued me. The winged victory atop suggested some military commemoration, and the decoration had a strongly naval feel, though the significance of the broken vessels which seem to penetrate the stone puzzled me. Was it placed here in recognition of the once invincible Venetian Navy, built and maintained at the nearby Arsenale?
The truth is somewhat different. Before this year I was ignorant of the Hapsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the centenary of the outbreak of The Great War, coupled with visits to Venice and Prague have led me to learn more.
A rostral column has its origins in the classical world where the rams (rostra) of captured ships were mounted thus to commemorate a naval victory. This particular column was made to commemorate a naval victory against the Italians by Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian in a war which resulted in the annexation of Venice to the Hapsburgs and was originally erected at Pula in Croatia.
It was brought to Venice by the Fascists in an act of revenge, yet now it overlooks a promenade named in honour of seven anti-fascists who died in the Second World War.
Where will the pendulum of human conflict swing next I wonder?