A Venetian Affair

A Venetian Affair

Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York, New York, 2003


When I began reading the manuscript for Venetian Affair, which is a nonfiction work consisting of family letters from early seventeenth-century Venice discovered in the latter part of the twentieth century, I felt it had to be a dramatic and strong jacket.

Those thoughts were dashed when I was advised by our sales and marketing staff that the look should be very lush and colorful, with a lot of detail and certainly depicting the male and female characters of this epistolary romance, The editor, Deborah Garrison, only wanted it to look “romantic.” I quickly (over a period of six weeks or so) discovered how disparate all these opinions really were. I did luck upon a wonderful portrait from a Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog of a blue velvet-suited Venetian man with a mask. It worked for me but then the literalists all asked, Where is the woman?

After more art research and split covers and brocaded edges and spine designs with St. Marks Square, we had everything but the Venetian kitchen sink. And no one was happy. Finally, I asked if I could do something entirely different and just show it. I had gotten myself painted in a design corner but was saved by Velásquez (who was not technically appropriate, being a Spaniard). There was a wonderful painting of Philip IV, of which I used a detail of his sleeve (fur-trimmed) and hand holding an open letter. With time running out, the design was approved at the final hour.

Juror Notes

“An elegant, formal and tasteful design.” Lars Müller

“Strong composition. Excellent use of existing image.”

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2003
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book cover


Design firm
Alfred A. Knopf Publishers
Art director
Carol Devine Carson
Jacket designer
Carol Devine Carson
Production director
Roméo Enriquez
Andrea Di Robilant
Deborah Garrison
Alfred A. Knopf Publishers
Trim size
5 3/4 x 9 7/16”
Engravers Gothic, Filosofia
Jacket printer
Coral Graphics
Book type
Literature and nonfiction