A DAZZLING DROP OF INSPIRATION – the thing about Venice is, that just when you think you’ve had enough and there really can’t be more art to discover, the city proves you wrong. I’m thinking of Palazzo Grimani, a fabulous and highly ornate palace.
PALAZZO GRIMANI – The Palazzo Grimani, with perfect timing, has recreated a unique and very special sculpture gallery called ‘Domus Grimani’. The very clever curators at Palazzo Grimani have managed to reunite the collection of marble sculptures that adorned the palace more than four centuries ago.
Here’s what the official Palazzo Grimani web site has to say:
Daniele Ferrara, director of the Polo museale del Veneto, and Toto Bergamo Rossi, director of Venetian Heritage, are the curators of DOMUS GRIMANI 1594 – 2019, the exceptional exhibition celebrating the return to Palazzo Grimani of the collection of classical statuary that once belonged to the Patriarch of Aquileia, Giovanni Grimani. Housed in the family palazzo in the parish of Santa Maria Formosa until the end of the sixteenth century—when the Patriarch donated it to the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia on his death—this collection now returns home after more than four centuries.
The result is quite simply breath-taking. The entrance to the palazzo gives the beady-eyed visitor a small clue to what lies inside. The entrance is highly decorated with pillars, plinths, portrait busts and a grand arched portal. Inside the vast classical palace is a room that was created as a sculpture gallery in the 16th century. It has been empty since the 1590s. To coincide with this year’s Biennale 2019 the sculptures and marbles that decorated this room, carefully collected by Giovanni Grimani over a lifetime, have been reunited. The display of sculptures at multiple levels is quite exceptional. There is even a superb classical sculpture ‘Ganymede and Eagle’ which dates from the second century. It is suspended from the Roman Pantheon inspired ceiling. Ganymede, according to Greek mythology was one of the most handsome young men on Earth. Zeus, king of the gods wanted to kidnap Ganymede and take him to Mount Olympus, where he would be the ‘cup holder to the gods’. Zeus disguised himself as an eagle, sweeping down from the heavens to carry Ganymede away. The overall effect is dramatic, beautiful and really very disconcerting. When you consider the sculpture is 1800 years old, a Roman copy of the Greek original, it serves as a reminder of how art and design in Europe have been profoundly influenced by Greek and Roman ideals for more than two millenia.
The joint effort of Palazzo Grimani and Venetian Heritage (a well funded not-for-profit organisation based in Venice and New York) has re-created a small part of Venice’s rich, historical legacy. It is well worth a visit to appreciate the splendour that existed inside the palaces of Venice in the 16th century. Since it’s opening in May, the sculpture gallery has already attracted visits from Brad Pitt and Francis Ford Coppola. In late August and early September, during the Venice Film Festival, there’s bound to be other celebrity visitors. A perfect palace visit to admire an exceptional sculpture gallery and possibly to spot a Hollywood ‘great’. As Lorenzo Quinn recently commented, everyone wants a small piece of Venice. He’s right – they do!
VENICE – LA SERENISSIMA so I suppose the question is, with all this art everywhere, then what or who is the star of the show? Well the answer is quite simple. There’s only one star, there’s only ever been one star. The star is Venice, the city herself. I had been visiting Venice for more than 30 years before I even set foot in the Accademia Art Gallery. Why go into a museum when the entire city around you is a living, breathing, evolving gallery of art. The city of Venice is without doubt the star of the show. The Biennale is a welcome addition, yes of course, however the city trumps the Biennale, every time. For those who notice things Venice is a joy and a delight, a cornucopia of treasures, new discoveries around every corner, too many for a single lifetime. How’s that for an accolade. Perhaps the ultimate accolade.
Venice is the star – the star of the show, a role that she plays effortlessly.
- The Venice Biennale runs from May to November, 2022 www.labiennale.org
- The exhibition ‘Domus Grimani ‘ at Palazzo Grimani will run until 22nd November, 2022
- Also at the Palazzo Grimani is an exhibition of 12 canvases by Georg Baselitz, German artist – the show entitled ‘Archinto’ is on display until the end of November, 2022 (in collaboration with Venetian Heritage).
- Lorenzo Quinn – sculptor is worth following. His father was Anthony Quinn, Hollywood actor. I’ve written several articles about his inspirational work: Lorenzo Quinn, sculptor
- Venice – Lorenzo Quinn, Damien Hirst and Modern Art
- Lorenzo’s own website is worth a visit also: www.lorenzoquinn.com
- Palazzo Grimani, Campo Santa Maria Formosa www.palazzogrimani.org
- More on a little corner of Greece in Venice: A little piece of Greece in Venice
- For private tours of Venice and Veneto contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or visit www.grand-tourist.com
- For a recent Botticelli discovery check out: Venice – Botticelli in Venice – seriously?
Written: 24-05-2019 / Updated: 10-07-2019 / Updated: 02-09-2021
NOTE – To appreciate the effort that has gone into the recreation of the sculpture gallery at Palazzo Grimani here’s the before and after: