Showing posts with label Doge's Palace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doge's Palace. Show all posts

19 February 2020

Domenico Grimani - cardinal and art collector

Owned works by Da Vinci, Titian and Raphael among others


Lorenzo Lotto's portrait of Cardinal Domenico Grimani, painted in the 16th century
Lorenzo Lotto's portrait of Cardinal Domenico
Grimani, painted in the 16th century
The Venetian cardinal Domenico Grimani, whose vast art collection now forms part of the Museo d'Antichità in the Doge's Palace in Venice, was born on this day in 1461.

Grimani acquired works among others by Italian Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, Titian and Raphael, as well as by Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch, two of the great Early Netherlandish painters of the 15th century.

He also owned the illustrated manuscript that became known as the Grimani Breviary, produced in Ghent and Bruges between 1510 and 1520, which is considered one of the most important  works of Flemish art from the Renaissance period. 

Gerard David, Gerard Horenbout, Simon Bening and other illustrators contributed to the work, which was acquired by Grimani for 500 gold ducats, and subsequently bequeathed to the Venetian Republic.  It is now housed in the Biblioteca Marciana, opposite the Doge’s Palace.

Domenico also began the collection of Greek and Roman antiquities that was subsequently expanded by his nephew, Giovanni, and now kept in the Palazzo Grimani museum, near Campo Santa Maria Formosa in the Castello District.

Grimani's father, Antonio, a wealthy merchant who was elected Doge of Venice
Grimani's father, Antonio, a wealthy
merchant who became Doge of Venice
Grimani was the eldest of five sons of Antonio Grimani, a merchant who had grown wealthy through the spice trade and would be elected as the oldest Doge of Venice in 1521 at the age of 87. His mother was Catarina Loredan, who came from another noble Venetian family.

After showing an early interest in humanist studies, Domenico moved to the Medicean academy in Florence, where he became part of the circle of Lorenzo de' Medici and associated with scholars such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano. He obtained a doctorate in canon law at the University of Padua in 1487 and was elected a Senator of Venice that same year.

He became a cardinal in 1493, an appointment paid for by his father. He was not ordained a priest until 1498, becoming cardinal priest of San Marco after the election of Pope Julius II in 1503.

Other titles he held during his life included apostolic administrator in Nicosia, Patriarch of Aquileia, cardinal bishop of Albano, administrator of the diocese of Urbino and Bishop of Ceneda.

He died in 1523. Initially buried in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome, his remains were later moved to San Francesco della Vigna in Venice.

In addition to his fascination with art and antiquities, which began when he stumbled upon buried Roman remains while building a villa and a vineyard in Rome, Domenico also wrote several theological treatises.

The entrance to the Palazzo Grimani in Venice, which now houses a museum
The entrance to the Palazzo Grimani in
Venice, which now houses a museum
Travel tip:

The Palazzo Grimani was built at the confluence of the canals of San Severo and Santa Maria Formosa. Purchased by Antonio Grimani, it was  passed on as a legacy to his grandsons Vettore Grimani, Procurator de Supra for the Venetian Republic, and Giovanni Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia, who refurbished the old structure inspired by architectural models taken from classicism. In 1558, at the death of Vettore, Giovanni became the sole owner of the building, in which he set up his collection of antiques, including sculptures, marbles, vases, bronzes and gems.  Until 1865, the palace was the property of the Santa Maria Formosa branch of the Grimani family but it later deteriorated and passed through several owners until it was bought by the city in 1981. After a long period of restoration, it was opened to the public in December 2008.

The Piazzetta San Marco, with the Doge's Palace on the  left and the Biblioteca Marciana opposite
The Piazzetta San Marco, with the Doge's Palace on the
left and the Biblioteca Marciana opposite
Travel tip:

The Doge’s Palace - Palazzo Ducale in Italian - is the former seat of the Government of Venice and the home of the Doge from the early days of the republic. For centuries this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo. The others were merely called Cà, short for Casa. The current palazzo was built in the 12th century in Venetian Gothic style, one side looking out over the lagoon, the other side looking out over the piazzetta that links St Mark’s Square with the waterfront. It opened as a museum in 1923 and is now run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.  The Biblioteca Marciana sits opposite, across the Piazzetta.

Also on this day:

1743: The birth of composer Luigi Boccherini

1953: The birth of actor and director Massimo Troisi

1977: The birth of opera singer Vittorio Grigolo


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10 May 2018

Antonio Priuli - Doge of Venice

Doge clamped down on Spanish ‘spies’


Antonio Priuli rounded up hundreds of suspected Spanish plotters
Antonio Priuli rounded up hundreds of
suspected Spanish plotters
Antonio Priuli, who was the 94th Doge of Venice, was born on this day in 1548 in Venice.

He took office in 1618 in the midst of allegations that the Spanish were conspiring to invade Venice. He immediately began a brutal process of ferreting out individuals suspected of plotting against La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

The so-called ‘spy war’ did not end until 1622 and resulted in the imprisonment and deaths of many innocent people.

Priuli was the son of Girolamo Priuli and Elisabetta Cappello. He grew up to enjoy a successful career as a sailor and a soldier and married Elena Barbarigo, with whom he had 14 children.

In 1618 Priuli was appointed provveditore, a type of governor, of Veglia, an island in the Adriatic, which now belongs to Croatia.

That same year, following the death of Doge Nicolo Donato, Priuli was recalled from Veglia to become the next Doge.

At the time it was believed that the Spanish, led by the Spanish Ambassador to Venice, Alfonso de la Cueva, 1st Marquis of Bedmar, had landed mercenaries on Venetian territory. It was thought Bedmar had successfully infiltrated the Venetian military and that a Spanish fleet was poised to take Venice.

On Priuli’s orders, hundreds were arrested, many of them foreign soldiers and sailors. Among the innocent victims was Antonio Foscarini, a Venetian nobleman who was arrested after attending an event at the English embassy and executed in April 1622.

The Venetian government issued an apology for Foscarini’s execution the following year and then scaled down the search for plotters. Priuli died just a few months later on August 12, 1623 in Venice.

The Palazzo Priuli in Castello is now an hotel
The Palazzo Priuli in Castello is now an hotel
Travel tip:

Palazzo Priuli, Antonio Priuli’s family home, is now the four-star Hotel Palazzo Priuli in Castello overlooking Fondamento Osmarin. This fine Venetian Gothic palace was built in the 14th century and still has the original, elegant windows. You can choose to stay in the Doge Antonio Priuli suite, which is furnished with a Murano glass chandelier and oriental rugs to create the atmosphere of a noble Venetian’s home.

The Doge's Palace was the home of the Doge and the seat of the government of the Venetian Republic
The Doge's Palace was the home of the Doge and the
seat of the government of the Venetian Republic
Travel tip:

The Doge’s Palace, where Antonio Priuli lived during his five-year reign, was the seat of the Government of Venice and the home of the Doge from the early days of the republic. For centuries this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo. The others were merely called Cà, short for Casa. The current palazzo was built in the 12th century in Venetian Gothic style, one side looking out over the lagoon, the other side looking out over the piazzetta that links St Mark’s Square with the waterfront. It opened as a museum in 1923 and is now run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.

Also on this day: 

1922: The birth of Neapolitian journalist Antonio Ghirelli

1949: The birth of Miuccia Prada, driving force behind the Prada fashion label

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3 March 2018

Sebastiano Venier – Doge of Venice


Victorious naval commander briefly ruled La Serenissima


Jacopo Tintoretto's portrait of Sebastiano Venier at the Battle of Lepanto
Jacopo Tintoretto's portrait of Sebastiano
Venier at the Battle of Lepanto
Sebastiano Venier, who successfully commanded the Venetian contingent at the Battle of Lepanto, died on this day in 1578 in Venice.

He had been Doge of Venice for less than a year when fire badly damaged the Doge’s Palace. He died soon afterwards, supposedly as a result of the distress it had caused him.

Venier was born in Venice around 1496, the son of Moisè Venier and Elena Donà. He was descended from Pietro Venier, who governed Cerigo, one of the main Ionian islands off the coast of Greece, which was also known as Kythira.

Venier worked as a lawyer, although he had no formal qualifications, and he went on to become an administrator for the Government of the Republic of Venice. He was married to Cecilia Contarini, who bore him two sons and a daughter.

Venier was listed as procurator of St Mark’s in 1570, but by December of the same year, he was capitano generale da mar, the Admiral of the Venetian fleet, in the new war against the Ottoman Turks.

As the commander of the Venetian contingent at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, he helped the Christian League decisively defeat the Turks.

The plaque to Sebastiano Venier at his house in Campo Santa Maria Formosa in Venice
The plaque to Sebastiano Venier at his house in Campo
Santa Maria Formosa in Venice
The battle took place in the Gulf of Patras when Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto encountered the fleet of the Holy League sailing east from Messina in Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states, largely financed by Phillip II of Spain.

The Battle of Lepanto was the last major naval engagement to be fought almost entirely by rowing vessels and the victory of the Holy League was of great importance in the future defence of Europe against Ottoman military expansion.

Venier returned to Venice a hero and, as a popular figure, was unanimously elected Doge in 1577 at the age of 81.

The Doge’s Palace was in the process of being refurbished in the aftermath of a fire in 1547 when another fire broke out, damaging the Great Council Chamber and many works of art.

A heartbroken Venier died a few weeks later on March 3, 1578 and was interred in the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a traditional burial place of the doges.

There is a plaque commemorating his memory on the wall of the Palazzetto Venier in Campo Santa Maria Formosa, not far from St Mark’s.


The monument to Sebastiano Venier outside the Basilica of SS Giovanni e Paolo in Venice
The monument to Sebastiano Venier outside the
Basilica of SS Giovanni e Paolo in Venice
Travel tip:

The Doge’s Palace, where Sebastiano Venier lived during his brief reign, was the seat of the Government of Venice and the home of the Doge from the early days of the republic. For centuries this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo. The others were merely called Cà, short for Casa. The current palazzo was built in the 12th century in Venetian Gothic style, one side looking out over the lagoon, the other side looking out over the piazzetta that links St Mark’s Square with the waterfront. It opened as a museum in 1923 and is now run by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.

Travel tip:

The Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where Sebastiano Venier is buried, is referred to by Venetians as San Zanipolo. The church, in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo in the Castello district, is one of the largest in Venice. It has the status of a minor basilica and a total of 25 of Venice’s Doges are buried there.


23 October 2017

Francesco Foscari – Doge of Venice

Ignominious ending to a long and glorious reign


Lazzaro Bastiani's profile portrait of the  65th Doge of Venice, Francesco Foscari
Lazzaro Bastiani's profile portrait of the
65th Doge of Venice, Francesco Foscari
After 34 years as Doge of Venice, Francesco Foscari was abruptly forced to leave office on this day in 1457.

Stripped of his honours, he insisted on descending the same staircase from the Doge’s Palace that he had climbed up in triumph more than a third of a century before, rather than leave through a rear entrance. Eight days later the former Doge was dead.

The story behind the downfall of Foscari and his son, Jacopo, fascinated the poet Lord Byron so much during his visit to Venice in 1816 that he later wrote a five-act play about it.

This play, The Two Foscari: An Historical Tragedy, formed the basis of Verdi’s opera, I Due Foscari, and ensured that the sad story of the father and son was never forgotten.

Francesco Foscari, who was born in 1373, was the 65th Doge of the Republic of Venice. He had previously served the Republic in many roles, including as a member of the Council of Forty and the Council of Ten, Venice’s ruling bodies, and as Procurator of St Mark’s. He was elected Doge in 1423, after defeating the other candidate, Pietro Loredan.

As Doge he led Venice in a long series of wars against Milan, which was then governed by the Visconti, who were attempting to dominate northern Italy.

An 1872 representation of the two Foscaris - Francesco and  Jacopo - by the Spanish painter Ricardo Maria Navarette Fos
An 1872 representation of the two Foscaris - Francesco and
Jacopo - by the Spanish painter Ricardo Maria Navarette Fos
The war was extremely costly for Venice, whose real source of wealth and power was at sea. Under Foscari’s leadership, Venice was eventually overcome by the forces of Milan under the leadership of Francesco Sforza, but meanwhile some of Venice’s eastern territories had been lost to the Turks.

In 1445, Foscari’s only surviving son, Jacopo, was tried by the Council of Ten on charges of bribery and corruption and exiled from the city. After two further trials, in 1450 and 1456, Jacopo was imprisoned on Crete, where he died.

After receiving the news of Jacopo’s death, Foscari withdrew from his Government duties. His enemies conspired to depose him and the Doge was forced to abdicate by the Council of Ten on October 23, 1457.

Foscari’s death, just over a week later at the age of 84, provoked such a public outcry that the former Doge was given a state funeral in Venice.

As well as being the subject of Byron’s play, Foscari’s life features as an episode in Italy, a long poem written by Samuel Rogers.

Byron’s play was the basis for the libretto written by Francesco Maria Piave for Giuseppe Verdi’s opera I Due Foscari, which premiered on November 3, 1844 in Rome. Mary Mitford also wrote a play about Foscari’s life, which opened in 1826 at Covent Garden, with the celebrated actor, Charles Kemble, playing the lead role.

The Doge's Palace has been the seat of the Venetian government since the early days of the republic
The Doge's Palace has been the seat of the Venetian
government since the early days of the republic
Travel tip:

The Doge’s Palace, where Francesco Foscari lived for 34 years, was the seat of the Government of Venice and the home of the Doge from the early days of the republic. For centuries this was the only building in Venice entitled to the name palazzo. The others were merely called Cà, short for Casa. The current palazzo was built in the 12th century in Venetian Gothic style, one side looking out over the lagoon, the other side looking out over the piazzetta that links St Mark’s Square with the waterfront. It opened as a museum in 1923 and is now run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.

The church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Travel tip:

Francesco Foscari’s tomb is in the chancel of the magnificent church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. This huge, plain Gothic church in Campo dei Frari in San Polo is known simply to Venetians as the Frari. The church also houses the tombs of Monteverdi, Rossini, Titian and Doge Nicolo Tron. It has works of art by Titian, Bellini, Sansovino and Donatello. The church is open daily from 9.00 to 5.30 pm and on Sundays from 1.00 to 5.30 pm.