Villa Pisani: Cruising the Brenta Canal from Padua to Venice, part 2

I recently posted about this day-long cruise here (here, here and here) and now I pick up where I left off. Our first stop on the cruise after leaving Padua was in Stra at Villa Pisani.  This incredible villa is now a state museum and very much work a visit.  It was built by a very popular Venetian Doge.

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The facade of the Villa is decorated with enormous statues and the interior was painted by some of the greatest artists of the 18th century.

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Villa Pisani at Stra refers is a monumental, late-Baroque rural palace located along the Brenta Canal (Riviera del Brenta) at Via Doge Pisani 7 near the town of Stra, on the mainland of the Veneto, northern Italy. This villa is one of the largest examples of Villa Veneta located in the Riviera del Brenta, the canal linking Venice to Padua. It is to be noted that the patrician Pisani family of Venice commissioned a number of villas, also known as Villa Pisani across the Venetian mainland. The villa and gardens now operate as a national museum, and the site sponsors art exhibitions.

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Construction of this palace began in the early 18th century for Alvise Pisani, the most prominent member of the Pisani family, who was appointed doge in 1735.

The initial models of the palace by Paduan architect Girolamo Frigimelica still exist, but the design of the main building was ultimately completed by Francesco Maria Preti. When it was completed, the building had 114 rooms, in honor of its owner, the 114th Doge of Venice Alvise Pisani.

In 1807 it was bought by Napoleon from the Pisani Family, now in poverty due to great losses in gambling. In 1814 the building became the property of the House of Habsburg who transformed the villa into a place of vacation for the European aristocracy of that period. In 1934 it was partially restored to host the first meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, after the riots in Austria.

 

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From the outside, the facade of the oversized palace appears to command the site, facing the Brenta River some 30 kilometers from Venice. The villa is of many villas along the canal, which the Venetian noble families and merchants started to build as early as the 15th century. The broad façade is topped with statuary, and presents an exuberantly decorated center entrance with monumental columns shouldered by caryatids. It shelters a large complex with two inner courts and acres of gardens, stables, and a garden maze.

The largest room is the ballroom, where the 18th-century painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo frescoed the two-story ceiling with a massive allegorical depiction of the Apotheosis or Glory of the Pisani family (painted 1760–1762).[2] Tiepolo’s son Gian Domenico Tiepolo, Crostato, Jacopo Guarana, Jacopo Amigoni, P.A. Novelli, and Gaspare Diziani also completed frescoes for various rooms in the villa. Another room of importance in the villa is now known as the “Napoleon Room” (after his occupant), furnished with pieces from the Napoleonic and Habsburg periods and others from when the house was lived by the Pisani.

The most riotously splendid Tiepolo ceiling would influence his later depiction of the Glory of Spain for the throne room of the Royal Palace of Madrid; however, the grandeur and bombastic ambitions of the ceiling echo now contrast with the mainly uninhabited shell of a palace. The remainder of its nearly 100 rooms are now empty. The Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni described the palace in its day as a place of great fun, served meals, dance and shows.

 

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Check out this sunken bathtub below:

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Bear with me: in the next few photos I am trying out all of the fancy settings on my new camera:

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To be continued.

Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua; once is never enough

 

I had to go back to Padua to see the masterpiece of Medieval fresco painting and I’m so happy I did.  One, two, even three times in a lifetime is not enough.  I’m now at 4 times and counting.

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Tuscan sculptor, Giovanni Pisano, is also well-represented in the chapel.

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The brochure for the Chapel tells us this about the Scrovegni Chapel: “In 1300, the rich nobleman Enrico Scrovegni acquired the area of the Roman Arena [in Padova], on which he intended to build a fine town house.  Next to it, he had a chapel built and dedicated to the Holy Virgin, for the soul of his father Reginaldo, the usurer mentioned in the 17th canto of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’  Scrovegni commissioned Giotto to decorate the chapel with frescoes which, according to most reliable information, was done between 1303-05. The frescoes cover the interior walls and ceiling of the building completely.  The lower part of the blue star-spangled vaulted ceiling depicts the prophets and the important episodes in the lives of the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ.  Above the main door is ‘The Last Judgment:’ Christ, as judge, is surrounded by the angels and the apostles; below him, to the right, are the Blessed; to the left, the Damned are depicted as suffering eternal punishment, according to medieval tradition.”

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The Florence of Telemaco Signorini; exhibition at Palazzo Antinori

Lovers of the ottocento and of old Florence will love the current exhibition at the Palazzo Antinori.  Entitled “The Florence of Giovanni and Telemaco Signorini” (father and son), the show runs through 10 November 2019.  For people like me, it is a delightful experience to not only see the show, but to also have a look at the piano nobile of the Antinori Palace.

The exhibition also includes a few paintings by contemporaries of the Signorini father/son painters. It includes: Ruggero Panerai, Luigi Gioli, Francesco Gioli, Giorgio Mignaty, Adolfo Tommasi, and Antonio Puccinelli.  There is also a sculpted bust of Telemaco Signorini by Giovanni Dupre.

Here’s what the brochure announces about this exhibition:

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Regarding the beautiful palazzo itself:

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Allora, now that I am done being a voyeur for the palazzo itself, let us look at some of the paintings in the exhibition: First up, a few paintings by Giovanni Signorini

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Above, Giovanni Signorini, Veduta dell’ Arno da Ponte alla Carraia, 1846

 

And now, for some paintings by Telemaco Signorini

 

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Above: Telemaco Signorini, Mercato Vecchio, 1882-83

 

 

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Above: Telemaco Signorini, Il ponte Vecchio a Firenze, 1880

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating women art patrons: Hürrem Sultan, a.k.a. Roxelana

Hürrem Sultan, a.k.a. Roxelana (1505–1558)
Empress of the Ottoman Empire

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Titian, La Sultana Rossa c. 1500. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Through her coquetry and mastery of palace intrigue, Roxelana (meaning “the maiden from Ruthenia,” a region in what is today Belarus and Ukraine) rose from sex slavery as a concubine in Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s harem, eventually becoming his first (or most preferred) wife. In the harem, Roxelana learned Turkish, the principles of Islam, and the art of seduction, and she earned a new name, Hürrem—“the joyful one.” Roxelana so enchanted the sultan that he broke with tradition and had multiple children with her. A few years later, he married her—an act that granted Roxelana her freedom.

At the side of one of the most powerful rulers in Ottoman history, Roxelana wielded extraordinary influence over the empire through her philanthropy and prominent public building projects. Her Haseki complex in Constantinople featured a mosque, school, hospital, and soup kitchen. When a fire partially destroyed Suleiman’s harem, Roxelana used the opportunity to move in with her husband at the Topkapi Palace—an unprecedented move among sultanic wives that ushered in an era called “the Reign of Women.” Instead of rebuilding the harem, she encouraged Suleiman to construct a mosque.

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The Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent still stands as a landmark in Istanbul today. In The Women Who Built the Ottoman World (2017), Muzaffer Özgüles suggests that Roxelana “reshaped the patronage of all Ottoman women builders who came after her.”