Ca’ Pesaro – A Modern Art Gallery on the Grand Canal

Of Longhena’s many designs, Ca’ Pesaro is believed to be his  masterpiece

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Ca' Pesaro - a Modern Art Gallery..

Ca’ Pesaro is a Baroque marble palace which was built by the noble and wealthy Pesaro family.  It is yet another design by Baldassarre Longhena in mid-17th century but he died before the building was completed.  It took 58 years before the Baroque palace was finally completed in 1710 by Gian Antonio Gaspari, who complied substantially with Longhena’s original design.

Ca’ Pesaro is believed to be Longhena’s masterpiece.  Designed with a grand-looking facade and a royal entrance hall, Longhena used heavy columns in the Ca’ Pesaro facade which contrasts with his more elegant Ca’ Rezzonico.  The interior was highly decorated with frescoed ceilings painted by some of Venice’s finest artists – some of these frescoes still exist in the palazzo .

A Palazzo Destined for Art

The Pesaro family had a substantial art collection which included many works by artists such as Vivarini, Carpaccio, Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, as well as the most famous Venetian artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century.  When the last of the Pesaro family died in 1830, most of the collection was sold at auction in London.

After the Pesaros, the palace became Palazzo Gradenigo, then it became an Armenian college before being bought by the Bevilacqua family.  The Duchess Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa was devoted to modern art and when she died, she bequeathed the building to the city for this purpose.

Today Ca’ Pesaro houses the International Gallery of Modern Art and has held the Venice City Council’s collection of modern art since 1902.

Through acquisitions and bequests, the Modern Art Gallery holds paintings or works by Klimt, Bonnard, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Rouault, Matisse, Moore, Morandi, De Chirico, Boccioni and others.

The upper floor is dedicated to the Museo d’Arte Orientale (Museum of Oriental Art), containing some 30,000 objects, mainly from Japan (armoury, inros, netsukes, paintings by Koryusai, Harunobu, Hokusai, etc.), but also from China and Indonesia. This collection of oriental objects was brought back by Prince Henry of Bourbon-Parma, the Count of Bardi, from his 19th century travels to Asia, and was bequeathed to the Italian state.

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