The city, the Eighteenth century and its museums

The outline of an ancient doorway and a fondamenta with its scenes of lifeÉ a gondola with its felze hood, which has just taken a noblewoman on board; a stroll by a few noblemen wearing the classic tricorne hat; two beggar figures against the walls. On the right, unfortunately excluded by the size imposed by our format, but very clear within the original scene, is the vibrant activity of a squero, the traditional Venetian boatyard for repairing light boats.
Above it all, a luminous sky reflected on the faint ripples in the water, marked by expert paintbrush touches.
From that moment Ð it was 1723 – masterfully immortalized by Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto, almost three centuries exactly have gone by.
Why did we choose it? For two reasons.
First of all to offer an understanding of the extraordinary nature of a city like Venice, intimately linked in its essence to a history that has made it famous, still able to convey images and feelings which not even time can erode.
Yes, because nowadays, if we retraced the locations which those great landscape painters depicted centuries ago, in most cases we would not find any differences with their depictions… and this picture proves it.
Along this canal, gone down in history as the rio dei Mendicanti or Beggars’ rivulet, the dividing line between the two most crowded sestieri in town – Castello and Cannaregio Ð everything, or almost, has remained intact over time.
Here then, even today, is the ancient Church of St. Lazarus; the long, sunny quay facing what is named the squero vecio or old boatyard; the stone bridge called the Horse’s (the wooden one no longer exists). Then, again, always along the banks of the canal, is the splendid marble-inlaid facade of the ancient Scuola Grande di San Marco (transformed since the early Nineteenth century into a military hospital and then a Civilian one); the imposing red brick Gothic facade of the basilica of St. Peter and Paul, the Venice Pantheon, and the equally famous equestrian statue of Colleoni, the first example of a large-sized statue ever cast since classical times, dating back to the mid-Fifteenth century.
Not only, the emotional experience of reliving locations from the past may also be completed by museum discoveries.
The painting we are publishing is actually held at what is considered one of the most fascinating Italian museums, the one at Ca’ Rezzonico.
Dedicated to the Venetian Eighteenth century and located within the splendid venues of a palace overlooking the Grand Canal, masterminded by Baldassarre Longhena, this museum offers the possibility of getting to know what is notably described as the golden century of the Most Serene Republic, through an important selection of artworks (paintings, sculptures, furnishings, frescoes…).
Its circuit, arranged over three floors, starts from an elegant garden, a portego or portico where a rare gondola equipped with a felze (a removable cabin which guaranteed its travellers’ privacy) is on display, and a monumental grand staircase designed by Giorgio Massari.
Two novelties have also recently been added to the museum tour.
The first, is an exhibition presenting three groups of drawings signed by great masters of the Venetian Eighteenth century to the greater public for the first time: the album of drawings on blue paper by Giambattista Tiepolo bequeathed to the Correr Museum in 1885 and two workshop relics by Pietro Longhi and Francesco Guardi. Overall, they are 64, among studies and life sketches, coming from lengthy restoration work overseen by Save Venice.
The second, features the launch of a new ticket offering the opportunity to discover the Venetian Eighteenth century, in addition to its main museum, also at two more venues which the Venice City Museums Foundation has established in the context of this period: Palazzo Mocenigo, a patrician dwelling where textile collections, original costumes and an appealing section dedicated to the art of perfumery are located, and the suggestive birth home of Carlo Goldoni, the greatest playwright of that time.
The Eighteenth century and our advice in this regard are just one of the many reasons to get to know the city intimately.
Then there are temporary events, such as the art showcases. Spring also makes itself felt in this manner, with new exhibitions, and with music and theatre starting from the two main venues, the Fenice and the “Goldoni”; with cinema, present with The Screen of Art Film Festival at the Teatrino at Palazzo Grassi and with the Short Film Festival, promoted by Ca’ Foscari University; with fashion, on a pedestal thanks to the Venice Fashion Week.
Finally, a special programme will be dedicated to International Women’s Day on 8 March.