Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rococo at Ca' Rezzonico, Venice

...Also known as, Venice laughing in the midst of its fall.

Decadence and decline. Rococo and baroque stylishly proclaiming, "We don't care. We see the end and we are going to continue making the most of it, more actually. Because that is who we are." 

Peals of laughter, clinks of Murano glass.

Changing masks in a candlelit corner while the orchestra tries not to fall out of the gondolas precariously moored just beyond the windows in the Grand Canal. 

A lover (Casanova), a gambler (the same), a fool (Pulcinella) and the patriarch (or a doge) could pass in mixed company during one long, last Carnevale without care save for when the reality of plague pounded at the door and then with none other than Napoleon to follow to end the party for good.

But until then...until then...the music continued to play and the likes of Tiepolo lifted patrons to the status of gods on frescoed ceilings while Canaletto shaded the panoramas for the passing aristocrats finishing their educations on the Grand Tour.

Families like the Rezzonico's could buy their respectability and nobility too. And they did. Over centuries, they built up their palazzo, home to what is most likely now the largest ballroom in Venice and installed a Pope on the throne. Until in the early 1800's, when they, like the Republic of Venice itself, were no more.

What remains are remnants of the fall of an empire, traces of which are dazzling enough to almost, but not quite, rival Versailles. This is La Serenissima on its own terms and it is just as an important part of her scheme as any serenading gondolier; one that keeps us thronging to her giddily many centuries after the gilt and putti were applied with enough abandon to prolong a renaissance.

Ca' Rezzonico or The Museum of 18th Century Venice
Dorsoduro 3136, Venice
Entrance by land in Dorsoduro across from the Campo San Barnaba
Entrance on the Grand Canal via the Ca' Rezzonico vaporetto stop on the #1 line
Open: 10am - 6pm (last entry at 5pm)
in winter from 10am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm)
Closed on Tuesdays
Admission: 10 Euros, free the first Sunday of every month
To take a virtual visit via Google, click here.

Et en plus: One of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargent, had a studio at Ca' Rezzonico during the period when the poet Robert Browning was in residence (he passed away here, the palace was owned by his son during that time). And for those of you wondering, yes, Fortuny did the fabrics for the walls during the most recent renovation in 2001. There is a wonderful view opening out onto the Grand Canal, but I would recommend not leaving it for the end of the day...I was quite literally shooed off the property to the nearby vaporetto stop, hence the lack of photos. If you go, I do hope that you enjoy...


  1. "Decadence and decline. Rococo and baroque stylishly proclaiming, 'We don't care. We see the end and we are going to continue making the most of it, more actually. Because that is who we are."' Think Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower. These are words that feel true to our current administration here in the U.S. They live the high life, leaving destruction in their wake, while the rest of us both here and abroad suffer the horrendous consequences....

  2. Heather your way with words...and your eye for beauty is exceptional. Thank you for including all of us in your world.


  3. The opulence, the is difficult to see decadence here. What beautiful photography, Heather! Merci.

  4. Ah, so you, my thespian friend, have been nibbled upon by the "Venice Bug" ... a pleasant little creature which, I must surmise, dwells within the fluid of life surrounding those beautiful antiquities ... happily injecting romantic notion and poignant dreams of past soirée with each tiny bite. I salute that little waterbug for instilling you with clear vision of magnificent days past. Salut !!

  5. The beauty of this Venetian journey on which you've taken us is marred by parallels with current western society, in which so many individuals are focussed on themselves and living indulgent lifestyles. Unfortunately these hedonistic masses vote for those who appear to lack long-term vision and have similar values to them.
    It's time for politicians – international, national and local - to put aside their differences and work for the long-term sustainable good of all people. The world needs political and religious moderation as well as large doses of respect, tolerance and honesty.
    OMG Heather, your words and images along with current events in Sweden and The Middle East have me on my high horse! Amicalement.

  6. Wow - thanks for sharing all this opulence with us! That gilded gold frame, table, chair - insanity! I love, also, that you take us back, share a little history with us about all of this - putting it in perspective. In my current state, though, the line that jumped out of me was, "A lover (Casanova), a gambler (the same)". Yes, love is a gamble, isn't it? One of my relationship books (re-browsed in my current state) states just that - love is a gamble and impermanence is real, therefore we should always know that our relationship might not work out. I gambled and lost; but who knows? Maybe I really won. But I digress - thank you for your lovely diversion and a glimpse of something beautiful that I most likely will never see (unless I travel there to see you someday??).

    1. Robin, We all want to travel with your amazing sister....

  7. Venice = awesomeness. I have nothing more to add.

  8. More is more? Although when gold reaches a certain point, one should start to question...
    Your observations/reportages are fascinating.
    Your photos are works of art.

  9. Oh,My,God........That chandelier!!!!!!
    I Love It...... and
    Just for today let politics be damned.
    Thank You for all that style Heather.
    Ga........I want to live in Venice too.
    as always love to you

  10. Remembering extravagance of a period in time. Or is it not forgetting. Thank you for the wonderful photos and text.

  11. Hello Heather,
    I share your passion for Venice. It is so wonderful to see your photos and hear of your footsteps through this incredible city. I feel like I am there with you. And to think we were ships passing in the night. I hope our paths cross in June. Fondest wishes.
    Helen xx


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