LOOKING BACK – MAY 2012

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THROUGH THE VENETIAN LOOKING GLASS

 

Located on over 100 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges, Venice has always been renowned
for its aquatic beauty. However, living within this marine setting comes with its own set of inconveniences—specifically,
getting around town while dealing with the strong reflection of the sun’s rays off the water surface. To combat this
issue, two unique forms of eye protection were born in Venice in the 18th century: the Goldoni and Gondola glasses.
Known as “Goldoni’s Glasses” because they coincided during the time of famous Venetian playwright
Carlo Goldoni, these spectacles were the first in the city with temple sides. The example shown at right was made
of horn and featured green glass lenses and silky side protectors (like brocade), providing excellent protection
against the sun and wind during navigation.
Meanwhile, shaped like a mirror, Gondola Glass was mounted to the gondola (shown above) and contained dark
green lenses that protected eyes from the strong reflection off the water surface—a benefit for
both the gondoliers and passengers.


Courtesy of David A. Fleishman, MD, and antiquespectacles.com.

 

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