13 October 2014
Palazzo Venier dei Leoni is in Dorsoduro on the banks of Grand Canal; it is just located after the Ponte dell’Accademia, in front of Palazzo Corner, between the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Academy. The building is not finished and it’s called by the Venetians “maifinìo” (trad.: mai finito, never finished): the incomplete palace.
Begun in 1749 by the architect Lorenzo Boschetti (1709 – 1772), the construction of the palace stopped on the ground floorso that the long and low Istrian stone façade could form a caesura in the row of buildings that overlook the Grand Canal from the Academy to the Basilica della Salute.
In his initial project Boschetti proposed to respect the Venetian tradition, distributing the rooms according to the customary pattern but varying the shape of the entrada, subdividing it in different areas.
The façade on the Grand canal was built according to the traditional rules and would have to remember, especially in the upper floors, many well-known architectural patterns of another famous Venetian architect: Baldassare Longhena.
The model also brings variants outside: windows on the ground and the mezzanine floor have a sinuous line, and in the second floor there are curved side windows topped by curved and triangular pediments.
In the ambitious project of the building there is an entrance porch by land and a porch on the water, by the sea. At the entrance from the Fondamenta Venier there is a courtyard with steps that lead down into the channel and one of the largest gardens of Venice – element of utmost importance for its uniqueness while the entrance from the canal consists of a return preceded by a fence, opened on a wide terrace from where you can enjoy the view of the Grand Canal from Ponte dell’Accademia to the basin of San Marco.
The result would be an important palace with a majestic and imposing size, but of unhappy proportions.
Nobody knows the precise circumstances that led to the interruption of the construction of the Palace: some say that money began to fail, while other believe that the powerful family called the Corners, who lived in the building in front of Palazzo Venier, opposed the construction of a building that would surpass their own house in size and magnificence.
The name of the building “Palazzo Venier dei leoni” hides some mystery too. Association with lions (leoni) in fact is unclear, and even here, popular legends mix with reality – and especially with the truth! – leaving space to the imagination. Some say that in the Palace garden was kept a lion in familiarity with some dogs (a very very special guardian, I would suggest!) while others take back to their fantasy and are content to a boring structural analysis: it is true obviously that the name may derive from the 18 heads of Istrian stone lion that decorate the façade-water level; we must also remember that San Marco’s lion is the emblem of Venice and it appears on the façades of several venetian palaces.
After a glance at the building from its outside, which in its incompleteness still leaves people excited and breathless, it’s good to know that the most absolute wonder is kept inside, like a little gem, a carillon, which releases music by opening ever felt before and beyond compare: the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Peggy was the Rage
Internally, the Palace houses the Guggenheim Collectionwith paintings by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vasilij Kandinsky, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock, and also the original bedroom furniture of Peggy Guggenheim.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898 – 1979) began to take an interest in modern art in the 1930s and she bought her first paintings before the Second World War began. After this tumultuous period in Europe she went back to the United States. And after her marriage with Max Ernst, she opened the “Art of This Century” in New York City active from 1942 to 1947: Peggy would later play an essential role as intermediary in the development of the first American art.
Returned to Europe in 1947, one year later she exhibited her collection at “La Biennale di Venezia” and then she definitely moved to Venice, a city that became her favorite place to be as she wrote:
̔̔It’s always assumed that Venice is the perfect city for a honeymoon, but it is a serious mistake.
Living in Venice means to fall in love and in your heart won’t remain space left for anything else.̔
She spent 30 years in Venice, during which the aspirations and ambitions of her previous life found their highest expression.
Peggy Guggenheim museum today is a great experience to live.
This is my favorite room:
Jackson Pollock is a young emerging artist when in 1939 Peggy decided to turn her simple London collection in a real Museum, the Guggenheim Jeune. Thanks to the Gallery of the Guggenheim, the unknown painter Pollock came in contact with the European avant-garde, particularly with Surrealism. I didn’t find anything about the relationship Peggy and Jackson were in, if they were close friendsor if she just appreciated his paintings. What I love about this building, however, is its candorand light. It seems like a place that has never changed during all these years, and I like the certainty that it will not change at all,like an ever-fixed mark that looks on the tempest and is never shaken. Another thing that I find beautiful as well as functional is the almost total absence of steps. And this is the result of transforming a House – a real home, where someone lived, cried, screamed, and laughed – at a Museum. It is ingenious, and bright. As I walk among the works and I expect to see the Museum furnished with the eccentric taste of pretty Peggy, with her strength, her mess. What a woman she was!
Baldassarre Longhena (Venice 1596 – 1682) was an Italian architect and sculptor of the Republic of Venice.
He was one of the most famous and representative artist of his time.