Marco Polo’s family parchments

On arrival in Venice ahead of the start of the Aldus conference we were fortunate enough to have time to visit both the Biblioteca Marciana and the Archivio di stato to meet conservators and curators, discuss matters parchment, and renew contacts first made during our trip to Venice last June. First off, and in the company of Nicholas Pickwoad and Chiara Frigatti, we joined Silvia Pugliese and Claudia Benvestito in the conservation studio at the Marciana where we’d been invited by Tiziana Plebani, Head of Conservation, to undertake species identification of three notarial parchment documents from 1280-1300 relating to Marco Polo and his family, including the great man’s own will.
DSC_0029 Having gloved up, we carefully generated the required eraser crumbs and tapped them into the small vials for transportation back to the UK and then on to Sarah and Matthew in York for analysis.DSC_0023 From thence we headed over to the Archivio di stato where Chiara had kindly arranged for us to meet with Evi Ellena, one of the curators responsible for the management of the archive’s outstanding documentary holdings, who gave us a whistle-stop tour back stack. The Venetian obsession with parchment soon became apparent as we looked at kilometres of notarial acts and the beautifully preserved and stored registers of the Venetian Senate stretching over centuries. As we took our leave, we look forward to returning through the small door to the capacious courtyards beyond and the parchment riches housed there to learn more about Venetian skins and their production and use.NPG 5944(8); Study of 'The Flaying of Marsyas' by Titian by Tom Phillips


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