Ca' Rezzonico: the apotheosis of 18th-century Venice
The splendid Ca' Rezzonico, overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, houses the 18th-century Venetian Museum, but offers much, much more.
It is an incursion into the mentality, taste and daily life of noble Venetian families who celebrated their power through art.
Among the sumptuous furnishings of the salons and the apartments with the most valuable objects of applied art, frescoes and canvases by the greatest painters of the Serenissima are on display.
A palace worthy of a Pope's family
We certainly owe the magnificence of the palace to its designer, architect Baldassarre Longhena, one of the greatest interpreters of Venetian Baroque, who also designed Ca' Pesaro and the church of Santa Maria della Salute, but also to the family that acquired it while it was still under construction, the Rezzonico family.
The Rezzonico family wanted to prove themselves worthy of their newly acquired noble title with a residence that had few rivals in the Venice of the time. A monumental palace worthy of their unstoppable social rise that culminated in 1758, when Carlo Rezzonico, son of Giambattista, was elected pontiff with the name of Clement XIII.
A monumental staircase leads to the main floor in a grand ballroom. For the Nuptial Allegory room, intended for a scion of the family and his bride, the Rezzonico commissioned the greatest artist of the time, Giambattista Tiepolo, to portray the couple on Apollo's chariot surrounded by Fame, Merit and Truth, as well as the Graces.
Every room of the palace is a treasure trove of masterpieces, such as the one with the pastel portraits by Rosalba Carriera, a Venetian artist appreciated in various European courts, or the rooms on the second floor, where the frescoes that Giandomenico Tiepolo, Giambattista's son, painted for his own villa in Zianigo and from which they were taken in 1906 to be sold abroad, are on display. Fortunately, they were then bought by the city of Venice in 1935 and put on display at Ca' Rezzonico.
They are truly original paintings, which the artist created for himself, without having to satisfy a client's taste. The most striking is undoubtedly the New World, with characters with their backs to the viewer. Delightful is the room of Pulcinella, the mocking Neapolitan mask whose sarcasm the artist appreciated.
Those who love Venice will linger in the room dedicated to the painter Pietro Longhi famous for his paintings in which he rendered snapshots of the social and domestic life of his period, the same as Carlo Goldoni.
Masterpieces of Veneto painting
The second floor of the palace displays several masterpieces of Venetian painting from two important collections, those of Ferruccio Mestrovich and those of Egidio Martini.
Ferruccio Mestrovich, a Dalmatian exile and scholar of Veneto painting, donated to Venice a nucleus of paintings by authors such as Cima da Conegliano, Jacopo Tintoretto, Giandomenico Tiepolo, Bonifacio De' Pitati, Francesco Guardi and Alessandro Longhi.
Egidio Martini was an art scholar who, since the 1940s, collected and restored several paintings by well-known and lesser-known authors: his donation to the municipality of Venice is considered the most important of the 20th century.
In the workshop of a Venetian pharmacist
The walk through history concludes on the third floor of Ca' Rezzonico, where the original furnishings of a pharmacy located in Campo San Stin under the name of 'ai Do San Marchi' have been restored.
Everything is authentic and original: the walnut shelving, the majolica albarellos from the Cozzi manufactures, and the various Murano glass objects.