1600-year history of Venice at the Correr Museum
In St Mark's Square, right in front of the Basilica and a stone's throw from the Doge's Palace and the Marciana National Library, the Correr is one of the first museums to visit in Venice: its beautiful halls chart the long history and civilisation of Venice, its institutions, arts and crafts as well as the festivals held in the city.
In the visit also includes the rooms of Empress Sissi, a remarkable picture gallery and a section dedicated to the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova.
In Napoleonic Venice
The Correr Museum, housed in the so-called Napoleonic Wing and in part of the Procuratie Nuove building, is worth a visit if only to stroll through the Napoleonic Gallery or Loggia and enjoy the view of St Mark's Square and the façade of the Basilica. Actually, the museum has much more to offer: it provides an insight into the story of the extraordinary civilisation of Venice, which celebrated its 1,600th anniversary in 2021.
The museum is named after the nobleman Teodoro Correr (1750-1830), who at his death donated a valuable art collection to the city, which formed the first nucleus of the collections now managed by the Musei Civici di Venezia.
The building was designed when Napoleon was king of the Kingdom of Italy (1805-1814), as part of the palace that was supposed to house his court, but by the vicissitudes of history it did end up housing a court, but a Habsburg one. The taste and decorations are early 19th-century neoclassical: the first rooms are those where Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, better known as Sissi, stayed, with an opulent ballroom, a throne room, studies, chambers and boudoir.
The rooms of Venetian civilisation
In the 16th-century building of the Procuratie Nuove you can visit an interesting exhibition illustrating the salient aspects of the events of the Venetian Republic, its institutions, maritime enterprises as well as daily life and festivities.
You will find models of the ships that allowed Venice to be the ruler of the Mediterranean for centuries. You will learn about the history of the Bucintoro, the ship on which the Doge embarked for the evocative rite of marriage between Venice and the sea that took place in the Lido harbour. And you will know how the Arsenale was organised, where the Biennale d'arte takes place today, or the shipyard complex run by the Serenissima in which the unbeatable Venetian ships were built. On display is the armoury of Francesco Morosini, recounting the exploits of the admiral who succeeded in reconquering the Peloponnese.
There is also the Venice of arts and crafts, at the service of the city that was for centuries the richest and most important in the world, with all kinds of craftsmen working to satisfy every request and whim of the large aristocratic class: on display are the curious women's shoes, almost stilts so as not to get their clothes dirty in the muddy streets, wig holders, leather panels used for upholstery and many other curiosities.
Art objects include the Correr Service by Nicola da Urbino, a collection of painted ceramics from the 16th century that are considered absolute masterpieces of Renaissance majolica; the collection of Venetian bronzes, also from the Renaissance period; and the woodcut matrix used to create the famous 16th-century bird's eye view of Venice by Jacopo de' Barbari, which documents the importance of Venice as the European capital of typographic art and publishing production.
The Correr Museum picture gallery
On the second floor of the Procuratie Nuove is a gallery of 140 masterpieces by Venetian artists and artists who lived in Venice. The exhibition was designed by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa (1906-78) and includes Venetian art from its origins to the 16th century. A long parade of paintings includes masters of Gothic painting, which flourished in Venice (Paolo and Lorenzo Veneziano), several greats of the 15th century (Cosmè Tura, Giovanni Bellini, Antonello da Messina, Vittore Carpaccio), as well as “Greek madonneri” (El Greco) and Flemish and German painters who document the intense relations that Venetians held at the time with various European realities.
A tribute to Antonio Canova
To the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), the Correr Museum dedicates evocative neoclassical rooms where a number of early compositions, several famous bas-reliefs and the work that launched his great career, the Daedalus and Icarus group, made for the Pisani Moretta palace on the Grand Canal when the artist was only 20 years old, are on display. The success of his work allowed him to earn enough money to go to Rome to refine his art and settle down permanently. Of great interest to connoisseurs of Canova is the collection of autograph drawings and sketches, thanks to which the ease of his creative flair and conception of space can be perceived.
If you look out onto St Mark's Square, you will see the terrace of the legendary Caffè Florian: Canova died in the Florian house, which was located at the Bacino Orseolo, behind the Correr Museum.
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