La Serenissima

Etching of the Interior of the Basilica of San Marco, Venice, by Axel Herman Haig (LEO Design)

Sadly, this year's travel plans have been supplanted with overdue home projects, including the hanging and cataloging of my personal collection of paintings and other artwork.  So this summer, in lieu of an overseas getaway, I could only gaze wistfully at framed pictures as I hung them—many of them reminding me of my favorite travel destinations (and vacations gone by).  Let me share a few of them with you.  Alas, this shall be the extent of my romantic journeys for Summer 2020.  On the whole, I have little to complain of.  In the meantime, I'll enjoy a few more "little journeys,' gazing at my pictures of my favorite places.

There is no other place on Earth like Venice.  Remote, impractical, precarious—every human achievement in The Floating City is subject to the rising tides and capricious destruction of Mother Nature.  And, yet, people have lived in the Venetian Lagoon for thousands of years.  The traditional founding of Venice is marked by the consecration of its first church, San Giacomo, on 25 March 421 AD (The Feast of the Annunciation).  Today the city is a conglomeration of 118 islands—cobbled together, laced with canals, and connected by 400 bridges.  In the 13th Century, Venice was the most powerful city-state in the world—and dominated trade and warfare throughout the Mediterranean.

Construction on Saint Mark's Basilica began around 1063, over the remains of multiple earlier churches (which had burned down). Many of the rich artifacts within were plundered from Constantinople at a time when Venice ruled the world.  The basilica's most precious possession is the relics of the evangelist, Saint Mark.  Mosaics on the church's exterior tell the story of how, in 828 AD, the saint's relics were "smuggled" out of Alexandria, Egypt by merchants who hid the bones in a basket of pork.  Today, the saint lies entombed beneath the altar in a sarcophagus inscribed Corpus Divi Marci Evangelistae ("Body of Saint Mark the Evangelist").

The etching above was created in 1897 by the Swedish artist Axel Herman Haig.  He learned to draw and paint as a boy, but soon found himself working as a shipbuilder, first in Sweden, then in Glasgow, Scotland.  He switched careers, becoming a draughtsman for the Church of England (illustrating existing and proposed works).  Eventually he founded his own studio, executing artistic renderings for architects, builders, developers and other commercial interests.  He also travelled throughout Europe, etching castles, palaces, landscapes and churches, many of which were published and hung as decoration in Late Victorian homes.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248