25 August 2007
My illustration for this week I have used in the past as a promotional mailer. I know at first glance, this seems inappropriate for this week's theme, but the concept of this piece was subtlety. I wanted to do a night time scene of Venice just before the Bubonic Plague landed on it's shores in 1630. Beware, because this is an area of interest, I will nerd it up in the following paragraph.
The Black Death reached the shores of Europe in 1348, carried there on merchant ships on the backs of rats stowed away as cargo amongst the spices destined for the European market. By 1334, the plague had destroyed two thirds of China’s population and successive waves of the plague after 1348 took the lives of roughly one third of Southern Europeans. Including at least four variants; the plague was caused by the bacillus Yersinia pestis which lived in the stomach of fleas who, as scientists believe, became sick, their digestive tract blocked, regurgitating numerous bacilli into the bloodstream of their rodent host, thereby causing the flea to move onto a new host upon the death of their rodent host. Unfortunately for the Middle Ages, this host became man. Venice was more impacted than cities that were inland and protected from the transportation of these disease-bearing animals. It was actually Venice’s great success with ships carrying precious spices materials that actually brought about its ravage. In Venice, eighty thousand lives were lost in just seventeen months. On the 9 the of November, for example, five hundred and ninety-five died.
In the background, you can just see that a Pied Piper type figure has just landed on the dock with rats in tow, alarming only a barking dog in the foreground, and rustling just one person awake. Silent visitors that killed thousands and altered the course of history forever.