Venice – the civic museums (Ca’ Rezzonico & Ca’ Pesaro)

Following the previous posts about the Doge’s Palace and Museo Correr, this post will be about another two museums of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia (MUVE), that is to say, Ca’ Rezzonico and Ca’ Pesaro. If you have read my previous posts about Venice, please click here to jump directly to the main content of this one. If not, the following paragraphs will be about an explanation of the outstanding universal value of Venice in terms of its history, city planning, architecture and art; some practical tips concerning the ideal length of your stay, the proper season of your visit and what you should note while eating in the restaurants and an introduction to the public transport system as well as the entrance prices and opening hours of some of the major attractions such as the churches belonging to the Chorus Association and museums of the MUVE. Now, let’s get to know Venice, a precious gem on the Adriatic sea.

As the UNESCO comments:

Founded in the 5th century and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century. The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others.


威尼斯及其泻湖: 威尼斯始建于5世纪,由118个小岛构成,10世纪时成为当时最主要的海上力量。整个威尼斯城就是一幅非凡的建筑杰作,即便是城中最不起眼的建筑也可能是出自诸如焦尔焦内(Giorgione)、提香(Titian)、丁托列托(Tintoretto)、韦罗内塞(Veronese)等世界大师之手。

1. Venice and its outstanding universal value

When’s the first time you heard about Venice and how? Well, I guess the first time I heard about Venice was in my English literature class when I was introduced to William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice“. Or maybe it was in my history class when I learnt that Marco Polo departed from here in search of China, Annam (nowadays Vietnam), Tonkin, Sumatra (an island in Indonesia), India and Persia. His voyage reminds us of the role that the Venetian merchants played in the discovery of the world, though after the Arabs, around 200 years before the Portuguese. In fact, it’s also possible that I heard about Venice even earlier, in my Chinese literature class when I was appreciating the essay “Venice” written by Zhu Ziqing, a renowned Chinese poet and essayist.

威尼斯(Venice)是一个别致地方。出了火车站,你立刻便会觉得;这里没有汽车,要到那儿,不是搭小火轮,便是雇“刚朵拉”(Gondola)。大运河穿过威尼斯像反写的S;这就是大街。另有小河道四百十八条,这些就是小胡同。轮船像公共汽车,在大街上走;“刚朵拉”是一种摇橹的小船,威尼斯所特有,它那儿都去。威尼斯并非没有桥;三百七十八座,有的是。只要不怕转弯抹角,那儿都走得到,用不着下河去。可是轮船中人还是很多,“刚朵拉”的买卖也似乎并不坏。 威尼斯是“海中的城”,在意大利半岛的东北角上,是一群小岛,外面一道沙堤隔开亚得利亚海。在圣马克方场的钟楼上看,团花簇锦似的东一块西一块在绿波里荡漾着。远处是水天相接,一片茫茫。这里没有什么煤烟,天空干干净净;在温和的日光中,一切都像透明的。中国人到此,仿佛在江南的水乡;夏初从欧洲北部来的,在这儿还可看见清清楚楚的春天的背影。海水那么绿,那么酽,会带你到梦中去。

Zhu studied at Peking University (always one of the 2 top universities in China), and during the May Fourth Movement became one of several pioneers of modernism in China during the 1920s. Zhu was a prolific writer of both prose and poetry, but is best known for essays like “Retreating Figure” (背影), “You. Me.” (你我) and the long poem “Destruction” (毁灭). This time, before leaving for Venice, I told my parents that I was going there and my dad said, “Oh, Venice, the city that Zhu Ziqing visited and wrote about. Don’t forget to take the gondola and check whether they are the same as he described or not. Maybe they have changed now?” The text above is part of what Zhu wrote and I’ll try to translate it by myself here. I hope and will try my best to keep the “original taste” of it.

Venice is a unique place. Once leaving the train station, you will immediately realize that there are no cars here. Wherever you wanna go, you can to take either a steam ship or a gondola. The Grand Canal goes through Venice like the letter “S” and it is the “main street” of the city. What’s more, there are 480 small canals and rios and they play the same role as the small alleys (hutong) in Beijing. The steam ships are like buses in other cities, “driving” passengers hither and thither. Gondola is similar to a rowed boat and it’s unique here in Venice. Wherever you wanna go, it can take you there. There are no bridges? Of course there are and there are 378! That’s a lot and enough because after turning around and around, you can basically reach everywhere without touching the sea water. Nevertheless, still quite a lot of people choose to take ships and it seems that gondola is also a rather popular option among them. Composed of many small islands and located at the northeast corner of the Italian peninsula, Venice is called the “city in the sea”. Seen from the top of San Marco Campanile, the islands are like floral clusters floating on the Adriatic sea. In warm sunlight and with almost no smoke, my sight goes through the seemingly transparent whole until it reaches the horizon where the sea meet the sky. As a Chinese, Venice reminds me of the water towns in southern China. After my trip to northern Europe in early summer, I can still find spring here, retreating yet clear. The water, so green and so “strong”, flows into your dreams.

The essay is much longer and I hope you can grasp a general idea or feeling of it from my translation. I’m happy that writing about Venice gives me the opportunity to read Zhu’s work again. I think the last time I read the “Venice” by him was somewhat more than 10 years ago and I have forgotten almost all of it except the “gondola”. A city floating on the sea? Doesn’t it only exist in fairytales or the magical world? As Zhu mentioned in his essay, I was born and grew up in southern China and I know Suzhou (Soochow) is called the “Oriental Venice” because of its rivers and bridges. I lived in this city for four years and I’ve always dreamt of seeing the real Venice. Eventually, the opportunity has come.

In this lagoon covering 50,000 square kilometers, nature and history have been closely connected since the 5th century when the Venetian ancestors came to the sandy islands of Torcello, Jesolo and Malamocco. As time went by, temporary settlements turned to be permanent and the fisherman and peasants became a maritime power. With its expansion over the centuries, Venice never ceased to consolidate its position in the lagoon. What is it that made the UNESCO decide to protect the whole city and its lagoon? What kind of historical, cultural and educational values does Venice possess? Based on what I read from the UNESCO World Heritage website, I’ll try to answer these question from three main aspects, that is to say, the city planning (protection), the monuments (architecture) and the art (painters and paintings).

1.1 Urban setting

Before seeing it, it’s rather difficult to imagine a city built on the sea. We sometimes say though a sparrow is small, it has all the organs that it needs. From Torcello to the north to Chioggia to the south, the islands here in this lagoon are similar to the sparrows, small yet highly functional. Made up of these islands and located at the heart of Veneto, Venice “stood as one of the greatest capitals” in the Middle Ages. In this distinctive city, street means canal, alley means rio, bus means ship and pedestrian crossing means bridge. This unique landscape resulted from a long and sophisticated process which reflects the interaction between people and the natural environment and it is this interaction that demonstrates people’s high technical and creative skills in the “realization of the hydraulic and architectural works” in this area. Although Venice presents a complete typology of medieval architecture, what makes it more special and valuable is that these buildings were constructed according to certain urban setting which had to adapt to the special conditions of the site.

Was it an easy task to organize the islands in such an urban system? It was not and it is not an easy task to keep the system or to update it nowadays either. Venice was and still is vulnerable due to various reasons. One of them is the irreversible natural and climate changes. We human beings can change a lot of things but one of the few things that we can never take control of is nature. Though very difficult, negotiating with nature and protecting their home is a task that the Venetians never forget or give up. When you are in the city, you will see ingenious devices and designs that have been applied to the streets and buildings (palazzos, churches and so on) for this specific purpose. As part of the coherent ecosystem, the muddy shelves, the small islands, the pile dwellings, the fishing villages, the rice fields and so on (which can be easily neglected) all need the same level of attention and protection. Shouldn’t we remember the crystallization of wisdom of these people who were, are and will be coping with nature to preserve this glorious gem of the sea?

1.2 Architecture and monumental arts

The second aspect showing Venice’s outstanding universal value is its influence on the development of monumental arts. I was writing about Palladio and his works in and around Vicenza some time ago and I mentioned some of his original designs in Venice. Honestly, for me, visiting Venice is like visiting the historic centers of Rome and Paris in the aspect that almost every building has its own history and is worth knowing about. This is the reason why the UNESCO emphasizes that “the lagoon of Venice has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces in the world”. From the palazzos to the squares (piazza and campi), from the bridges to the streets (calli), from the churches to the Scuole hospitals and chartable and cooperative institutions, one who sees Venice sees the complete catalogue of medieval architecture and even more.

While we are talking about the city’s history and buildings, how can we miss its significant role as the capital (810–1797) of the Republic of Venice? For almost a millennium, Venice was the major witness to the ups and downs of this powerful sovereign state and nowadays, its architectural ensembles make it possible for us to see the magnificence of the Republic’s Golden Age. What’s more, internationally, the monuments built based on the Venetian models “first through the Serenissima’s fondachi or trading stations, along the Dalmatian coast, in Asia Minor and in Egypt, in the islands of the Ionian Sea, the Peloponnesus, Crete, and Cyprus” are strong evidence of the width and strength of this Republic’s influence on architecture.

1.3 Paintings and decorative arts

When the Republic of Venice started to lose its power over the sea, it exerted its influence in a rather different manner. I personally am a great fan of Italian paintings and besides the Manneristic Renaissance painters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, the ones belonging to the Venetian school are always among my favorites. From the later part of the 15th century, Venice had a distinctive, flourishing and influential art scene. Beginning with the work of Giorgione and the workshop of Giovanni Bellini, major artists of the Venetian school included Titian (Tiziano Vecelli), Tintoretto (also known as Jacopo Robusti in his youth), Paolo Veronese (also known as Paolo Caliari) and Jacopo Bassano (also known as Jacopo dal Ponte). Together with Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, their revolutionary and ingenious masterpieces illustrating a brand-new perception of space, light and color left a decisive mark on the development of painting and decorative arts in the whole of Europe.

I remember that in the museums in other cities, once I saw paintings of these masters that I mentioned above, I would definitely take a close look at them. Nevertheless, in Venice, I only chose to take a look at the most famous ones or the ones that I like the most. Why? Because there are so many! I assure you that in no other city of the world can you see such a complete collection of works created by these great painters. These marvelous masterpieces are scatted all over Venice in the churches, houses, palazzos and of course in the museums and art galleries. For example, in the Church of San Zaccaria, you can see Giovanni Bellini’s “San Zaccaria Altarpiece”; in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, you can see Titian’s “The Assumption of the Virgin”; in the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, you can see Tintoretto’s “Last Supper”; in the Gallerie dell’Accademia, you can see Paolo Veronese’s “The Feast in the House of Levi” and “Mystical Marriage of St Catherine”Titian’s “Presentation of the Virgin” and many more. Trust me, if you are a fan of any of those masters in the Venetian school, you will certainly feel Venice is the paradise of art. Just a reminder, as a city built on 118 small islands floating on the Adriatic Sea, the beauty of Venice also inspired numerous landscape painters such as Canaletto, Guardi, Turner and so on.

2. General tips for visiting Venice

Having elaborated on the outstanding universal value of Venice, now, by answering four questions, I’d like to give you a general introduction to the city accompanied by some suggestions or tips based on my own experiences. The first question that I guess many people, who have never been to Venice, have in their mind is: “What are the must-visit attractions in this wonderful city?” Well, I guess anyone who knows Italy knows Venice and anyone who knows Venice knows St. Mark’s Square. It is the principal public square of Venice and is generally known just as la Piazza (“the Square”). Together with the Piazzetta (“little Square”), an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner, it forms the social, religious and political centre of Venice. In fact, All the other urban spaces in the city (except the Piazzale Roma) are called campi (“fields”). Dominated by the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint MarkProcuratie Nuove, Napoleonic Wing, Procuratie Vecchie, the Campanile of St Mark’s churchBiblioteca Marciana, and Doge’s Palace, these two spaces are worth the name “the drawing room of Europe” (a comment which is said to have been left by Napoleon).

Take your time but remember, don’t spend all your time here. Otherwise, you will miss a big part of Venice. I somehow feel that visiting Venice is like going through a general body examination. It’s of vital importance to check the heart (visit the St. Mark’s Square) but without checking other parts, this examination just doesn’t make much sense. All in all, I’d really like to remind you that Venice is much more than just St. Mark’s Square. Visiting the bridges (such as Ponte dell’Accademia and the Rialto Bridge), the churches (such as the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and the Basilica of Saint Mary of Health), the houses or palaces (such as Ca’ Rezzonico and Ca’ Pesaro), the islands (such as Murano and Burano), the museums (such as the Lace Musem and the Glass Museum), the Gallerie dell’Accademia, the Grand Canal and so on will help you gain a much more detailed and comprehensive understanding of Venice.

“How long should we stay in Venice?” Well, this is a very difficult question because depending on how much you wanna see and how much you wanna learn, the length could vary from three days to a month or even longer. If you wanna have a good understanding of the city, I would say you need to spend at least a week here. “What’s the best time to visit Venice?” I visited Venice in November and at the beginning I was a bit disappointed because my friends told me the weather in the summer is much better. Nevertheless, when they told me they waited for one, two or even more hours to enter the churches and museums, I was so glad and realized that I chose the right time. In totally, I visited 18 churches and 9 museums and I didn’t spend any time waiting for entering them. Though in the winter, almost all the museums close earlier than in the summer, I’m still happy that I can use the time standing in the lines to have a nice dinner and enjoy the view of Venice at night. Briefly, if possible, I still recommend you visiting Venice in the low season to avoid large crowds.

“Is it safe to travel in Venice?” According to my experience, I would say my own trip was rather smooth and successful. I wouldn’t say there’s anything life-threatening that you need to be reminded of. Nevertheless, do keep an eye on your personal belongings because similar to any other big or famous touristy cities, thieves are inevitable. What’s more, don’t fall for their tricks when someone offers you free stuff or asks you to sign something. Just remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Besides,there are two more things that I’d like to share with you concerning having lunch and dinner in the restaurants. Firstly, please note that cover fee and service fee are two different charges so when you go to a restaurant where they say they don’t charge compulsory service fee, don’t be surprised when the cover fee appears on your bill, and vice versa. Honestly, as for the cover fee, I think its reasonable to charge it and as long as they provide ok service, I prefer that the restaurants just charge the service fee directly so I don’t need to calculate and think about how much tip I should leave. The thing I hate the most is that sometimes they say one thing while doing another (For example, some guy standing in front of the restaurant inviting customers in said that the restaurant wouldn’t charge service fee or whatsoever. Nevertheless, by the end, both fees appeared on the bill and I saw some customers complaining to him and he seemed to suggest that he would talk with the manager and give their cover and service fees back. Of course 99% of the people would say “Ah, it’s just a few euros, never mind,” and that’s how he does his “business”.) I don’t mind paying a few more euros but if you lie to me, I won’t allow myself to be tricked like a fool and pretend nothing has happened. The second thing is that when you make your order, make sure you see your dish and the price on the menu. For example, in one restaurant, the waitress asked my friend and me, “do you want some garlic bread”? and I said “sure, why not.” but when I got the “garlic bread” they turned out to be tomato buchetta. I bet that if I questioned her she would say “oh, sorry I can’t speak English well or oh sorry, isn’t buchetta garlic bread?” What else could I say? Fortunately, nowadays on Google Map you can check reviews of the restaurants and I strongly recommend you doing so before entering them. How I regret I didn’t do it because later on I checked the reviews of that particular restaurant and there had been so many similar cases much worse then mine. Can you imagine how you would feel if you and your family enter a restaurant planning to have a simple dinner for around 60 euros and end up paying 200 instead? I sincerely hope that the local authorities could deal with these kinds of restaurants which are obviously trying to “rip tourists off”. We tourists need to respect Venice and on the other hand, Venice (relevant administrations) also needs to respect its visitors. Only in this way can we achieve a harmonious relationship between the city and the people.

3. Brief info about public transport and major attractions (that I visited)

As I mentioned above, during my this trip to Venice, I visited 16 churches belonging to the Chorus Association, a conservation organisation aiming at safeguarding, conserving and restoring the artistic, historical and cultural heritage contained within the 18 Venetian churches that presently constitute its membership (Church of Santa Maria del Giglio, Church of Santo Stefano, Church of Santa Maria Formosa, Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Church of San Giovanni Elemosinario, Church of San Polo, Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Church of San Giacomo dall’Orio, Church of San Stae, Church of Sant’Alvise, Basilica of San Pietro di Castello, Church of the Santissimo Redentore, Church of Santa Maria del Rosario (Gesuati), Church of San Sebastiano, Church of San Giobbe, Church of San Giuseppe di Castello, Church of San Vidal and Church of San Giacomo di Rialto), 8 museums belonging to the Venice Civic Museum Foundation (Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia) (Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, Ca’ Rezzonico, Ca’ Pesaro, Glass Museum in Murano, Natural History Museum, Mocenigo Palace, Fortuny Palace, Lace Museum in Burano, Carlo Goldoni’s house and Clock Tower (visits only upon prior booking)) as well as the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore as well as the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

If you want to visit both the churches and the civic museums I recommend you buying the City Pass from VeneziaUnica which costs 29.9 euros for people from 6 to 29 years old (39.9 euros for people from 30+) and gives free admission to: Doge’s Palace and all 10 Civic Museums of Venice, 16 churches of the Chorus Circuit (another 2 are free), the Querini Stampalia Foundation and the Jewish Museum. Please click here to check more offers provided by VeneziaUnica such as St. Mark’s City Pass (free access to Doge’s Palace and the Corror museum on St. Mark’s square + 3 churches in the Chorus circuit of your choice), St. Mark’s City Pass + tour of the Teatro La Fenice with audioguide, City Pass + lagoon tour, City Pass + public transport and so on.

If you only wanna visit the churches of the Chorus Association, I suggest you buy the Chorus Pass which costs only 12 euros for an adult (please note that entrance to each church in this circuit costs 3 euros already). For more information about the reduced-price Pass, Family Pass, free tickets, opening hours of the churches and so on, please click here.

If you only wanna visit the civic museums, you can buy the “Museum Pass” which grants entrance to most of them except Palazzo Fortuny and the Clock Tower. The full price is 24 euros. Depending on which and how many museums in this foundation you want to visit, either buying the tickets separately or buying the “Museum Pass” can be cheaper. However, if you plan to visit more than four museums in this circle, it’s for sure a better deal to just buy the Pass. Please click here and click the PDF file “Civic Museums of Venice – short version” to check both the full and reduced entrance prices for each of the museums and click here to know more about the different types of the “Museum Pass” (such as family pass, child pass, senior pass etc).

As for public transport, water bus (ship) is the main means. According to my experience, it’s fun exploring the main island both on foot and by boat because the former means gives you the opportunity to be closer to the narrow streets and authentic residential blocks while the latter makes your journey much easier and more convenient because there are so many lines and stops. Nevertheless, if you want to visit the Church of the Santissimo Redentore, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Lace Museum on Burano Island, the Glass Museum on Murano Island and so on and have a cruise on the magnificent Grand Canal, you have to take the water bus. Depending on how many days you will spend in Venice and where you want to go, you can buy one-way ticket (7.5 €), 1-day ticket (20 €), 2-day ticket (30 €), 3-day ticket (40 €), 7-day ticket (60€), water bus tickets with Marco Polo Airport transfer and so on. For more informations about group tickets and some special offers please click here and click “Public Transport”.

4. Museums of the MUVE

There are in total 11 museums belonging to the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, which manages and develops the cultural and artistic heritage of Venice and the islands. I am satisfied that I visited 8 of them but I wish I had more time to know better about them. The 11 museums are:

  1. Doge’s Palace (formerly the residence of the Doge of Venice and the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, now a museum)
  2. Museo Correr (the Imperial Rooms, the Canova collection, the art and history of Venice). Included in the combined itinerary are the National Archaeological Museum of Venice and the Monumental Rooms of Biblioteca Marciana.
  3. Clock Tower (visit the terrace on the roof and learn about the clock mechanism. Please note that visits are only allowed with prior booking)
  4. Ca’ Rezzonico (museum of the 18th-century Venice)
  5. Palazzo Mocenigo Museum (museum of textiles and costumes with the new itinerary dedicated to perfume)
  6. Carlo Goldoni’s House (not only Carlo Goldoni’s residence but also a museum exhibiting collections of his life and works)
  7. Ca’ Pesaro (International Gallery of Modern Art)
  8. Palazzo Fortuny (Mariano Fortuny’s own photography, stage-design, textile-design and painting atelier)
  9. Glass Museum (on the island of Murano)
  10. Lace Museum (formerly seat of the Burano Lace School on the island of Burano)
  11. Natural History Museum

The museums that I didn’t visit in this foundation are the Clock Tower, because I didn’t book a tour in advance; the Palazzo Fortuny, because it was closed and will be open again from the 24th March 2018 and the Natural History Museum because I didn’t have enough time and I’m not particularly interested in this kind of museums. In five posts, I’m gonna write about all the ones I visited, briefly informing you of the opening hours, ticket prices and the floor plans of them (some of the museums are so big that you might easily get lost in them) and of course focusing on their historical, cultural and artistic values. I hope when you go to Venice and visit them you will have a successful and meanigful trip. Now let’s start this post with Ca’ Rezzonico, the museum of the 18th-century Venice.

5. Ca’ Rezzonico

5.1 Practical information

5.1.1 Opening hours

  • 1st November – 31st March: 10:00 – 17:00
  • 1st April – 31st October: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Closed on Tuesdays

Please note that the ticket office closes one hour before the official closing time of the museum and the opening time shown on Google Map could be inaccurate.

5.1.2 Ticket prices

  • Full price: 10 euros
  • Reduced price: 7.5 euros (children from 6 to 14, students from 15 to 25, citizens over 65 and so on)

If you wanna know more about the reduced price, free entrance, family offer, school offer and so on please click here.

Audio guide is available at the ticket office at the price of 4 euros for on person and 6 euros for two people.

As I mentioned in the third chapter, if you plan to visit more than 4 civic museums, please consider buying the “Museum Pass” and if you plan to visit the civic museums as well as the churches of the Chorus Association, please consider buying the “City Pass” from VeneziaUnica.

5.1.3 Floor plan

This house hosts the museum of the 18th-century Venice and can be divided into four parts, that is to say the Browning Mezzanine, the first floor, second floor and third floor. Here you can not only see the 18th-century art collections including stripped frescoes or ceiling canvases from other city palaces but also the lavishness and splendor of an 18th-century Venetian mansion. In the next sections, I’m gonna first introduce to you the history of the building and then I’ll guide you through all the floors and focus on the highlights (rooms, paintings, etc.), which were really impressive to me during my visit. Please note that the information I’m gonna provide below is based on what I learnt from the official website of Ca’ Rezzonico and from the info boards on site. Now let’s take a look at how the house turned out to be what we see nowadays.

5.2 History of the building

In the middle of the 17th century, Filippo Bon, member of one of the oldest noble families in Venice, commissioned the construction of the house to the most famous architect of that time, Baldassare Longhena. It was also this architect who designed Ca’ Pesaro (which we will talk about later) and the Basilica of La Salute. However, it appeared that the project was too ambitious for the financial condition of the family and in particular, after Longhena’s death, it was brought to a halt and remained uncompleted. In 1750, Giambattista Rezzonico, whose family had just gained its noble title by paying a large sum of money, bought the house and commissioned Giorgio Massari, the fashionable architect of that time, to finish the works. As you might have noticed, the name of the house came from this family. The works were finished in only six years and in 1758, Carlo Rezzonico, son of Giambattista Rezzonico, was elected pope under the name of Clement XIII. The lightning rise of the family didn’t last long and in 1810, it already died out with the death of Abbondio. Throughout the 19th century, the house changed its owners several times and its original furnishings were gradually stripped off. Later tenants included the poet Robert Browning, who spent the summers of 1887 and 1888 here and died here in 1889 and the composer and songwriter Cole Porter, who rented the house from 1926 to 1927. When the city of Venice purchased the property in 1935 to house the 18th-century art collections, it was almost empty. However, in just a short time, furnishings and paintings including stripped frescoes and ceiling canvases from other city palaces were added and made this house what we see nowadays. As you can see from the third picture in this chapter, the entrance on the Grand Canal was the original main entrance. Once standing on the ground floor, we can start imagining the glorious days of Ca’ Rezzonico when all the honored guests entered through the monumental water entrance and went upstairs through Giorgio Massari’s large ceremonial staircase. If you wanna know about the innovative architectural features designed by Longhena such as the façade and the portico with an inner courtyard, please click here. Now, let’s climb up the large staircase and visit the first floor of the house.

5.3 The first floor

The first floor is made up of the Ballroom, Nuptial allegory room, Pastel room, Tapestry room, Throne room, Tiepolo room, Library, Lazzarini room, Brustolon room, and the Portego. Now let’s start with the Ballroom.

5.3.1 Ballroom

Once you step into the ballroom, I’m sure you’ll be amazed by its size. Massari eliminated the floor of the upper piano nobile and closed an order of windows to double the height of the room. What’s more, with the help of an art technique called trompe-l’œil, you will feel you are in the center of a much larger space. This effect is achieved by paintings on the walls created by Pietro Visconti, a Lombard artist who specialized in such works and collaborated with the most famous venetian painters of that time. The ceiling fresco is by Giambattista Crosato and it depicts the chariot of Phoebus with Europe, Asia, America and Africa on the four sides. Under the ceiling you can see two marvelous chandeliers in gilded wood and metal and they are the original furniture of the house. Along the walls are some works made by Andrea Brustolon for the Venier family in the early 18th century. Some statues of them, together with the ones in the Brustolon room, are called Ethiopian Warriors and are probably inspired by the Egyptian statues that Brustolon saw during his time in Rome. We will talk more about him when we enter the Brustolon room.

5.3.2 Nuptial allegory room

The name of this room came from the fresco on the ceiling, commissioned for the wedding of Ludovico Rezzonico and Faustina Savorgnan and painted in 1757 by Giambattista Tiepolo together with his son Giandomenico Tiepolo and the trompe-l’œil painter Gerolamo Mengozzi Colonna. Against a bright sky, four imperious horses are pulling the chariot of Apollo, where the two spouses are on board and are led by the blindfolded Cupid and surrounded by a group of allegorical figures (Fame, the three Graces and Wisdom). An old bearded man, crowned with laurel (Merit) and with a lion at his feet, symbol of the city, is holding a scepter and a banner bearing the coats of arms of the two families. As commented on the official website, “the solar quality of the light, the stupendous symphony of the colors and the dynamic vigor of the figures make this fresco one of his greatest masterpieces”. Please note that this is also one of the last works painted by Tiepolo in the city of Venice.

What’s also worth noticing in this room are the carved and gilded furniture from the early 18th century and one small painting on the wall by Pietro Longhi which shows Pope Clement XIII (Carlo Rezzonico) granting an audience to his nephews and niece.

 5.3.3 Pastel room

The fresco on the ceiling (1757) is a work by the Belluno painter Gaspare Diziani, representing Poetry surrounded by Painting, Architecture, Music and Sculpture and a putto, armed with a torch, casting out Ignorance. The name of the room actually came from the numerous portraits in pastel on the walls, a painting technique that some Venetian artists were exceptionally good at. The name particularly worth mentioning is Rosalba Carriera, who taught the skill to French artists during her stay in Paris from 1720 to 1721. Some of her high-quality works are exhibited here, which were created during the 1830s, reflecting not only her study of the psychology of her subjects but also her fascinating skill in colors. The two small miniatures on ivory were also painted by her and are extraordinary examples of this kind of work that she devoted to at the beginning of the 18th century. Another work you shouldn’t miss in this room is the Portrait of Cecilia Guardi Tiepolo painted by Lorenzo Tiepolo in 1757. The subject is Giambattista Tiepolo’s wife, sister of Antonio and Francesco Guardi. The Venetian carved and gilded furniture are from the middle of the 18th century and the boiserie as well as the Murano chandelier are from the second half of the century.

5.3.4 Tapestry room

The fresco on the ceiling was painted by Jacopo Guarana in the winter between 1757 and 1758 when Tiepolo was working in Spain. Depicting Triumph of the Virtues, the fresco shows us Fortitude with the helmet together with Temperance and then, higher up, Marital Harmony and Valor with the lion. On the left are Justice and Prudence and higher up are Eternity with the sun and moon, Abundance, and Glory. Nevertheless, the room was named after the three large Flemish tapestries from the late-17th century narrating episodes from the biblical story of King Solomon and the Queen Sheba. Together with the carved and gilded furniture, which are one of the most remarkable examples in Venetian Rococo style to have survived, the tapestries are from Palazzo Balbi Valier at Santa Maria Formosa. In this room we can find only one surviving element of the original furnishings, which is the lacquered door decorated with oriental patterns, witness to the great 18th-century passion for chinoiserie. The design is said to have been made either by Giambatista or Giandomenico Tiepolo while they were working on the frescoes in the house.

5.3.5 Throne room

The fresco on the ceiling is another work by Giambattista Tiepolo together with his trompe-l’œil collaborator, Gerolamo Mengozzi Colonna, painted during the time when they were working on the Nuptial Allegory. With a skillful play with colors and an ingenious composition, it represents the Allegory of Merit, who is portrayed as a bearded old man crowned with laurel and is rising to the Temple of Glory accompanied by Nobility (the winged figure holding a spear), Virtue (the figure to the right of Merit with a vestment) and Fame, who is blowing her trumpet. The link between this fresco and the Rezzonico family lies in the golden book held by a putto under Merit. It is the book of the Venetian noble families to which the Rezzonico family was admitted in 1687. The richly decorated furniture here originally belonged to the Barbarigo family and was passed to the Donà delle Rose family. Before leaving, don’t forget to take a look at the impressive picture frame with lavish allegorical decorations, designed to glorify the virtues of the Barbarigo family.

5.3.6 Tiepolo room

After crossing the Portego (we will talk about this room later), we will arrive at the Tiepolo room. In this room, you can admire the third of the four ceilings by Giambattista Tiepolo in Ca’ Rezzonico, representing Nobility and Virtue defeating Perfidy. Unlike the other frescoes in the rooms on this floor, this one was originally created between 1744 and 1745 for Pietro Barbarigo and was then inherited by the Donà delle Rose family. In 1934, the Venice Town Council purchased it and placed it in this room. In the picture, Nobility and Virtue stand out against the bright sky and are surrounded by winged putti as well as two elegant pages as train-bearers. Perfidy, in contrast to the other two figures, is dressed in grey and is falling downwards. One of the pages seems to have been painted in detail and is said to have been modeled on the artist’s child, Giuseppe Maria. Some noteworthy furniture here include the bureau in walnut root, the large table in the center with its eight carved legs and a cabinet on the wall to the left of the entrance.

5.3.7 Lazzarini room

The ceiling of this room consists of five ovals depicting “Prometheus with the mirror given to him by Minerva, and the eagle” (in the center), “Daedalus and Icarus”, “Prometheus released by Hercules”, “Perseus showing Atlas the head of Medusa” and “Andromeda bound to the rock”. Painted between 1657 and 1658, they are works by the 17th-century painter Francesco Maffei from Vicenza and are among his greatest masterpieces. Like the canvases on the ceiling of the next room (Brustolon room), these five canvases were not the original decorations here. Instead, they were moved here from Palazzo Nani on the Cannaregio Canal. The name of the room came from the three large canvases portraying mythological subjects on the walls, which were believed to be the works of Gregorio Lazzarini, Giambattista Tiepolo’s first teacher. Later studies show that in fact, only one of the paintings, “Orpheus Torn to Pieces by the Bacchantes” (1698) (as you can see in the first picture above) is by Gregorio Lazzarini. These three paintings are also not among the original decorations here. They are from the San Stae home of the Abbot Teodoro Correr, whose legacy made up of the original core collection of the civic museums of Venice. In the center of the room stands a spectacular desk (as you can see in the second picture above) made of precious wood with ivory inlays and gilded bronze rods. Signed and dated 1741, it is the work of the Turin-born cabinet maker Pietro Piffetti. Among the other furnishings, do take a look at the six chairs upholstered in leather painted with allegorical figures.

5.3.8 Brustolon room

The ceiling of the rooms is composed of eleven canvases in different sizes and shapes. Like the five in the previous room, they are the works of Francesco Maffei, originally painted for a country villa of the Nani family and later divided up and placed in two different rooms in Palazzo Nani on the Cannaregio Canal. Though taken from the same palazzo, the four monochrome tondi at the corners are works by Gerolamo Brusaferro.

The name of the room came from the sculptor Andrea Brustolon, who is known for his furnishings in Baroque style and devotional sculptures. Together with the ones we saw in the ballroom, a set of his furnishings including large chairs, vase stands and statues were created for the Vernier family before 1706 and are among the finest examples of woodcarving in Veneto in the early 18th century. Particularly noteworthy is the console-cumvase-stand in front of the right wall of this room. At the bottom you can see Hercules, symbol of strength and vanquisher of the Lernian Hydra, with Cerberus at his feet. On the upper surface, which is made like a rough tree trunk, you can see three blackamoors made of ebony (one kind of tree) holding up a large vase and two old bearded men on the two sides, each holding another vase. As commented on the official website, this work is “highly imaginative in conception and meticulous in execution and the chromatic contrast between the different components is exploited to the full”. For example, the gleaming or almost metallic black of the ebony, the reddish brown of the boxwood and the luminous white of the oriental porcelain all seem to blend harmoniously together. The same excellence and ingeniousty can also be seen from the other stand vases in this room decorated with allegories of the Four Seasons, Five Elements and Apollo symbolizing the light.

Another work I’d like to draw your attention to is the superb chandelier in polychrome glass hanging beneath the ceiling. As you can see in the first picture above, it is made up of twenty candle holders in two orders and was produced in around 1730 by the Murano factory of Giuseppe Briati, one of the most remarkable examples of its kind.

5.3.9 Portego

In many Venetian palaces, “portego de mezo” means the wide atrium which usually links the canal entrance with the land entrance. It is repeated on the upper floors to provide access to all the side rooms. Because the original paintings in this room were dispersed in the 19th century and the stuccos deteriorated, before the opening of this museum in 1936, the appearance of this room was changed. Nowadays, some of the marble busts you can see here, either of portrait or allegorical figures, are the works of Orazio Marinali and the furnishings here include four large divans and a gilded sedan chair upholstered in red silk. On the easel you can see the altarpiece depicting “Mary Magdalene at the Foot of the Cross”, originally painted for the Church of Terese between 1663 and 1664 by Giambattista Langetti and one of the first works produced by this Genoa-born artist in Venice. Before going upstairs, do take a look at the doorway which appears to be a triumphal arch, at the top of which you can see the coat of arms of the Rezzonico family. On both sides, the sculptures are by the 16th-century artist Alessandro Vittoria.

5.4 The second floor

The second floor is composed of the Picture gallery portego, rooms of Giandomenico Tiepolo in Zianígo, Harpsichord room, Room of the parlor, Longhi room, Green lacquer room, Antonio Guardi room and the Alcove. Now, let’s start with the Picture gallery portego.

5.4.1 Picture gallery portego

In the second-floor portego, some of the most important paintings in this museum are displayed. This room provides excellent examples of various genres of the 18th-century Venetian art. For example, the veduta (the view), the landscape, the capriccio, the portrait and the figure paintings. In particular, I’d like to draw your attention to “The Dutch Diplomatic Meeting” (as you can see in the second picture above) by Francesco Guardi, the “Death of Darius” by Giambattista Piazzetta, the “View of the Grand Canal from Ca’ Balbi towards Rialto” (as you can see in the first picture above) and the “Rio dei Mendicanti” by Canaletto and “The Feast of St. Martha” (as you can see in the third picture above) by Gaspare Diziani.

The Dutch Diplomatic Meeting” is a painting that refers to a real historical event, that is to say, the signing of a trading agreement in The Hague on 27th August 1753 between the Kingdom of Naples and Holland. It was commissioned by Count Finocchiatti, who immediately came to Venice after the event and commissioned the work. Together with some other works by Francesco Guardi such as the “Foyer”, the “Parlor of the Nuns” and the “Signboard of the Guild of the Coroneri”, it forms “the most important group of interiors by this artist presented in a public collection”.

The large canvas of the “Death of Darius” was painted in 1746 by Giambattista Piazzetta for the portego of Palazzo Pisani Moretta at San Polo, where it was paired with a painting by Paolo Veronese, depicting “Alexander and Darius’ Family” and later sold by the owner to the National Gallery of London. In the painting here in this room, particular features of Piazzetta, different from his contemporary and competitor, Tiepolo, can be recognized. For example, as I learnt from the official website, “the atmosphere is gloomy and dramatic, an effect which has been emphasised by alterations in the colours which have occurred due to the priming with Armenian bole. Over the centuries this priming has absorbed and cancelled some hues, such as the pinks and light blues. Piazzetta’s rendering of faces and gestures is the result of careful meditation, in contrast to Tiepolo’s quick, free brush strokes. Piazzetta also impeccably defines the anatomy of the nude, as can be observed in the extraordinary image of the Persian king’s outstretched body”.

The “View of the Grand Canal from Ca’ Balbi towards Rialto” (as you can see in the first picture above) and the “Rio dei Mendicanti” are two early masterpieces by Canaletto and are the only two views which can be seen in public collections in Venice. These paintings were originally part of a series of four, belonging to the princes of Lichtenstein. Now the other two are in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. If you wanna read a more detailed explanation of the paintings, please click here.

5.4.2 Rooms of Giandomenico Tiepolo in Zianígo

This series of rooms is my favorite in this museum because first of all, they are all about my fan, Giandomenico Tiepolo and secondly, they brought back my memory of the guest house in Villa Valmarana ai Nani. The frescoes in these rooms were painted by Giandomenico Tiepolo in the family villa in Zianigo. Stripped off in 1906 for sale abroad, they were purchased by the town of Venice and transferred to Ca’ Rezzonico in 1936. The paintings were completed over a rather long period of time, that is to say between 1759 and 1797. What’s so special about these paintings is that they were not created for clients but for this artist and his family’s own taste. In other words, as commented on the website, “this very circumstance freed the painter from thematic and figurative conventions and allowed him to follow his own intimate nature, a propensity to sarcastic description of the world around him”. In these rooms, you will see Giandomenico’s “Rinaldo Abandoning the Garden of Armida“, whose style and theme are closely linked to his father’s world, “Hawk Swooping onto the Flock of Sparrows in Flight”, “Promenade in the Villa“, “Madonna and Child Adored by St. Jerome Miani and St. James the Apostle” together with two monochromes depicting the saints’ life on the side walls and so on.

One of the frescoes I’d like to emphasize is the “New World“, which I recognized immediately because I had seen certain similar scene in Villa Valmarana ai Nani in Vicenza. On the info sheet in the villa, I learnt that this fresco was painted by Giambattista Tiepolo after finishing his commission in Mardrid. Nevertheless, I learnt here in this museum that this is actually the work of Giandomenico Tiepolo. To be honest, I trust the source of the latter more because as it suggests, the painting was signed and dated 1791 and Giambattista died in 1770. As you can see in the first picture above, a crowd of people are thronging around the huckster in his booth, which is called the “New World” because of the images of exotic places shown inside. This amusement attracted the whole society, that is to say, not only children but also common people, peasants, the middle classes and so on. Here all of them are depicted in real-life size either from the back or from the side and even though we can’t see their faces or the “new world”, we are filled with curiosity. In this fresco, Giandomenico overturns the classic conception of representation because “the scene does not present itself to the viewer but paradoxically denies itself to our scrutiny, hiding that very show which has drawn the crowd”. As I read online, the figure on the right with folded arms is recognized as Giandomenico Tiepolo and the figure with the eyeglass is recognized as Giambattista Tiepolo.

Another room I’d like to draw your attention to is the punchinello room, which exhibits scenes from the life of punchinello, including the famous oval “Punchinellos on a Swing”. It is said that by the end, “punchinello dominated Giandomenico Tiepolo’s human comedy at Zianigo. They seem to turn up gradually in all the scenes, slowly take over every role and substitute every individual.” If you wanna know more about this room or the other paintings by Giandomenico Tiepolo from Zianígo, please click here.

5.4.3 Harpsichord room

The name of this room came from the rare example of an early 18th-century harpsichord, with richly carved and gilded legs. Some other finishings worth noticing are the wardrobes and doors from Villa Mattarello at Arzignano near Vicenza.

5.4.4 Room of the parlor

In this room, the fresco on the ceiling was stripped from a reception room in Palazzo Nani in Cannaregio. Painted by Costantini Cedini, a late pupil of Giambattista Tiepolo, it depicts Marital Harmony crowned by Virtue, in the presence of Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Fame, Abundance and Divinity. On the walls are two of the most famous works by Francesco Guardi, an Italian painter of veduta and considered to be among the last practitioners, along with his brothers, of the classic Venetian school of painting. His two paintings exhibited here are the “Parlor of the Nuns of San Zaccaria” and the “Foyer of Palazzo Dandolo at San Moisè“. Painted in the second half of the 1740s, they are two “interior views“. Nevertheless, telling from the liveliness of the miniature figures, one can already expect the views of Venice that this artist would produce at the beginning of the next decade. If you wanna know more about these two paintings please click here. Please note thats some works by Pietro Longhi, Giambattista Tiepolo and Bartolomeo Nazari can also be found here.

5.4.5 Longhi room

The name of this room came from the series of paintings by Pietro Longhi hanging on the walls. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this room is worth visiting because it provides a rare opportunity to compare the “lively, sensuous rococo of Giambattista Tiepolo’s allegorical-mythological works, represented in the canvas on the ceiling, with the keenly ironic and critical spirit of the Venetian Enlightenment in Pietro Longhi’s genre pictures on the walls”. The painting on the ceiling was created during an early phase of Giambattista Tiepolo’s career and it was commissioned on the occasion of the wedding of Antonio Pesaro and Caterine Sagredo, celebrated in 1732. Called “Zephyrus and Flora”, the fresco depicts the reawakening of nature (Flora) with the coming of spring, which is announced by a light warm breeze (Zephyrus). Considering it was created for the newly weds, the fresco symbolizes fecundity. In contrast, when we turn towards the walls, the paintings by Pietro Longhi show the ordinary daily life of the 18th-centry Venice. After his transformation from historical painting to genre painting, he started with isolated figures of shepherds and peasant women. Then he placed them in rustic country settings, as you can see from the paintings “Polenta” or “Furlana” here. To be honest, this theme reminds me of the frescoes painted by Giandomenico Tiepolo in the guest house of Villa Valmarana ai Nani. Later, Longhi changed his subject and style and it was in this field that he gained his fame. His new subjects became the Venetian patrician society and instead of portraying the noblemen in a formal style (as shown in the portraits on the lower floor), he shows them while they are just doing their daily business. You can see examples of this kind of portraits in the paintings such as “The Barber”, “The Morning Chocolate”, “The Visit of the Bauta” and “The Moor’s Letter”, etc. in this room. It was the first time that the Venetian aristocracy was shown in their casual dressings enjoying their own pastimes. Nevertheless, I read from the official website that Longhi portrayed the Venetian noblemen with their faces masked to remain anonymous, which was also demanded by the Venetian Republican laws. What’s the point of making a portrait if the faces can’t be seen then? It is a rather strange idea for me.

Among all the paintings, please take a close look the one called “The Rhinoceros“. Throughout the Venetian carnival, which lasted three months, various booths were set up in the St. Mark’s area. Among the major attractions are some exotic animals such as lions, elephants and in this case the rhinoceros. This painting was commissioned by Giovanni Grimaldi, who had a private menagerie in his villa in the mainland. Longhi made a second painting almost identical to this one, for Girolamo Mocenigo, now in the National Gallery of London. As you can see in the middle of the picture, the commissioner (who was 23 years old at that time) is standing next to his beautiful bride. If you wanna know more about this or some other paintings by Longhi in this room, please click here.

5.4.6 Green lacquer room

Painted by Antonio Guardi, the fresco on the ceiling depicting “Triumph of Diana” is originally from Palazzo Barbarigo-Dabalà at Angelo Raffaele. Dating back to a late stage of the artist’s career, it was mounted on a canvas after removal. On the walls are paintings of views and landscapes but the most remarkable feature in this room is undoubtedly the chest of drawers in dark green lacquer (as you can see in the picture above), which is also where the name of the room comes from. Decorated with oriental patterns in gilded paste, it came from Palazzo Calbo Crotta in Cannaregio and belongs to a set of furniture of a single design. In fact, this piece of finishing also testifies to the taste of the 1750s, that is to say the appreciation of chinoiserie. The two polychrome figures of Chinese men with moving heads are 18th-century oriental works.

5.4.7 Antonio Guardi room

This room got its name from the three frescoes by Antonio Guardi from Palazzo Barbarigo-Dabalà at Angelo Raffaele. As you might have realized, they belong to the same series as the one on the ceiling of the Green lacquer room. The one shown above is called “Minerva”. These four works are the only examples of frescoes known to us by Antonio Guardi and they attest to this artist’s lively skill in decoration. Some furnishings you might be interested in in this room are the furniture in green lacquer with polychrome flower patterns and the fireplace in red Verona marble.

5.4.8 Alcove

In the room and the small ones beyond, an 18th-century bedchamber with dressing rooms, a wardrobe room and a boudoir is reproduced. The alcove was moved here from Palazzo Carminati at San Stae and dates back to the second half of the 18th century. As you can see in the picture above, in the middle of the headboard is a painting of “The Holy Family with St. Anne and the Infant St. John” while above it is a beautiful elegant painting in pastel depicting Madonna by Rosalba Carriera, dating back to the late 1720s. Moved here from various palazzos or houses, some furnishings you might find interesting are a chest with lid, the lacquered cradle with neoclassical decoration, the showcase containing the fine toilet set, the coffer on the lower shelf of the showcase, etc. Now, let’s go to the third floor and visit the Ai do San Marchi Pharmacy and the Egidio Martini Picture Gallery.

5.5 The third floor

5.5.1 Ai do San Marchi Pharmacy

The pharmacy was originally located in Campo San Stin in Venice. Purchased and donated by a Parisian antiquarian, the furniture and objects were transferred here in 1936. Most of the furnishings including the majolica vases and objects in Murano glass date from the mid-18th century. The pharmacy is composed of three intercommunicating rooms, with the first one being the shop itself. It has 183 majolica vases and the two large ones placed in the corners of the back wall bear the sign of the pharmacy, which is two lions holding the open Gospel, symbolizing the protector of Venice, St. mark the Evangelist. The second room contains the laboratory, featuring a fireplace, a stove and various alembics in fine Murano glass. The third room is the backroom of the pharmacy and do take a look at the boiserie (wooden paneling) as well as the vases in majolica and glass on the shelves.

5.5.2 Egidio Martini Picture Gallery

As commented on the official website, “Egidio Martini’s donation is the most important that has been made to the city of Venice since the beginning of the 20th century, for the number of works, their high quality and their philological and historical importance.” He began his activity of restoring ancient paintings in the 1940s and discovered works which were not fully appreciated by the critics or the market at that time. Instead of following the main stream, he identified and reevaluated them and started his own collection. The gallery we see here exhibits paintings, mostly of the Venetian school, ranging from the 15th century to the beginning of the 20th century and of a very wide genre. For example, from mythological figures to landscapes, from portraits to religious subjects and so on. Some big names in history you can find here are Alvise Vivarini, Tintoretto, Bassano, Palma il Giovane, Francesco Maffei, Pietro Liberi, the Tiepolo family, Longhi, Rosalba, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci. If you wanna know more about this gallery please click here. Now, please come down with me to the ground floor and start our visit to the Browning Mezzanine.

5.6 Browning Mezzanine

Please note that in order to visit the Ferruccio Mestrovich Collection, you have to climb up the stairs on the opposite side of Giorgio Massari’s large ceremonial staircase on the ground floor and reach the Browning Mezzanine. The Mestrovichs belong to an ancient Dalmatian family originally from Zara and have lived in Venice since 1945. The head of the family, Aldo, was persecuted during the Austrian rule because of his Italian patriotism. His son Audace worked in Venice for many years as a lawyer and his youngest son, Ferruccio, a passionate scholar of early Veneto painting, is the donor of this collection. The attributions of the paintings here are actually the result of his research and study.

Particularly noteworthy in this collection are the paintings such as “Christ taken down from the Cross supported by St John and Mary Magdalene in the presence of two Donors” and “Portrait of Francesco Gherardini” by Jacopo Tintoretto, “Holy Conversation” by Bonifacio De’ Pitati (as you can see in the first picture above), “Christ Benedictory” by Benedetto Diana, “Announcing Angel and Announced Virgin” by Benedetto Carpaccio, “Dead Christ” by Giambattista Cima da Conegliano, “Adoration of the Shepherds” by Lelio Orsi, “Portrait of Giuseppe Chiribiri” by Alessandro Longhi, “Dressed Madonna” by Francesco Guardi and so on. If you are interested in some of the paintings and wanna know more about them, please click here. In October 2009, the collection was expanded with a donation of another 14 works.

Having had a tour of almost all the rooms in this house, I believe you have an idea of the highlights here now. I have to admit that when I was visiting this museum, I was focusing more on the paintings and to some extent ignored the furniture. It will be a pity if you neglect them because in that case, you will miss a big part of the 18th-century Venetian art. Now,  let’s move to Ca’ Pesaro and visit the International Gallery of Modern Art.

6. Ca’ Pesaro (International Gallery of Modern Art)

6.1 Practical information

6.1.1 Opening hours

  • 1st November – 31st March: 10:00 – 17:00
  • 1st April – 31st October: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Closed on Mondays

Please note that the ticket office closes one hour before the official closing time of the museum and the opening time shown on Google Map could be inaccurate.

6.1.2 Ticket prices

  • Full price: 10 euros
  • Reduced price: 7.5 euros (children from 6 to 14, students from 15 to 25, citizens over 65 and so on)

If you wanna know more about the reduced price, free entrance, family offer, school offer and so on please click here.

As I mentioned in the third chapter, if you plan to visit more than 4 civic museums, please consider buying the “Museum Pass” and if you plan to visit the civic museums as well as the churches of the Chorus Association, please consider buying the “City Pass” from VeneziaUnica.

6.1.3 Floor plan

This museum is composed of three floors with the first one dedicated to 15 rooms exhibiting important 19th- and 20th-century collections of paintings and sculptures. The second floor contains two rooms dedicated to the exhibition on the first floor and several other rooms hosting the Sonnabend Collection. The entire third floor is dedicated to the Museum of Oriental Art. What I’d like to remind you of is that while you are admiring the collections of the International Gallery of Modern Art, don’t forget to take a look at the building (such as the ceilings) itself because it is a masterpiece by Baldassarre Longhena, the greatest Venetian baroque architect. Now, before starting our exploration of the collections, let’s take a look at the history of the house.

6.2 History of the building

Commissioned to Baldassarre Longhena, this magnificent palace was built in the second half of the 17th century for the noble and wealthy Pesaro family. Works began in 1659 starting from the land-side and the loggias were finished by 1676. The splendid façade facing the Grand Canal had already reached the second floor by 1679, but because of Longhena’s death in 1682, the project was entrusted to Gian Antonio Gaspari, who completed it in 1710 while remaining faithful to Longhena’s original design. The current palace still conserves some of the original fresco and oil decorations of the ceiling, which are works by Bambini, Pittoni, Crosato, Trevisani and Brusaferro. There was also a fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo but I think you know where it is now if you have read my this post carefully. Yes, it was moved to the Longhi Room in Ca’ Rezzonico. If you wanna know more about the design or history of the building, please click here. Now, let’s start with the first floor of the International Gallery of Modern Art.

6.3 First floor

The artworks on the first floor are arranged in different rooms of various themes. By going through them from room No.1 to room No.15, you will visit the paintings and sculptures chronologically. Some of themes include “1. Conversations. Rodin, Medardo, Wildt”, “3. The Joyful Apocalypse”, “5. Conversations. Rodin, Bourdelle, Wildt”, “8. Metaphysical Resonances”, “10. Beauty and Seduction in the 10th Century”, “11. The International Avant-garde Movements. Abstraction and Color” and “15. A Tribute to Three Italian Masters: Afro, Burri and Fontana”. Some of the works I recommend you taking a look at are, “The Burghers of Calais” and “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin, “Judith II” by Gustav Klimt, “Medusa” by Franz von Stuck, “Mysterious Baths” by Giorgio de Chirico, “The Lipstick” by Camillo Innocenti, “The Painter and His Model” by Pablo Picasso, “White Zig Zag” by Wassily Kandinsky and “Spatial Concept” by Lucio Fontana. If you wanna have a more detailed list of the masterpieces in this museum, please click here.

Among all the paintings, I’d like to talk a bit more about the “Judith II” by Gustav Klimt. I was immediately drawn towards this painting because at first sight, I though it was depicting Salomé, a symbol of dangerous female seductiveness who demanded and received the head of John the Baptist. Nevertheless, after reading the description, I realized that it is actually telling the story of the Jewish heroine, who decapitated the Assyrian general, Holofernes, to save the city of Bethulia from a siege and Judaea from invasion. Judith is shown extracting the head of Holofernes from her pannier to show to the Bethulians. This painting was made in 1909, but Klimt had already depicted the same theme in 1901 in the painting called “Judith I” (now in Vienna), though with considerable stylistic differences. As commented by Nino Barbantini, the first director of Ca’ Pesaro, “she is the strange creature, agitated to the depths of her soul and nerves as a result of her adventure and murder, a figure who passes through the midst of war with the tragic image before her eyes, with danger now behind and alongside her.”

6.4 Second floor

The second floor mainly hosts the Sonnabend Collection, which was assembled by Ileana Sonnabend and is one of the most important collections of European and American art of the second half of the 20th century. Central in the collection is the dialogue between European and American art. It starts with Pop Art and Nouveau Realisme and moves on with Minimalism, Arte Povera, Antiform, Conceptual Art and the use of photography by artists. To be honest, I don’t really know much about modern art so if you are interested and wanna know more about this collection, please click here.

6.5 Third floor

Please note that the third floor doesn’t belong to the International Gallery of Modern Art anymore. Instead, it is entirely dedicated to the Museum of Oriental Art. However, the admission fee is included in your Ca’ Pesaro entrance ticket. This museum hosts one of the most important collections of Japanese art of the Edo period and the more than 30,000 objects were bought by Prince Henry II of Borbone, Count of Bardi, during his travel to Asia bewteen 1887 and 1889. Here you can not only see Japanese swords, daggers, armours, delicate enamel objects and precious porcelains but also visit sections dedicated to Indonesian and Chinese art. If you wanna know more about this museum, please click here.

After admiring the 18th-century furniture and paintings in Ca’ Rezzonico and visiting the International Gallery of Modern Art as well as the Museum of Oriental Art in Ca’ Pesaro, let’s move to the Mocenigo Palace, which hosts the Museum of Textiles and Costumes (including a new itinerary dedicated to perfume), and Carlo Goldoni’s house, which is not only this playwright’s birthplace but also a museum dedicated to his life and works.

Venice – the civic museums (Ca’ Rezzonico & Ca’ Pesaro) was last modified: July 24th, 2019 by Dong

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