Ca’ Rezzonico

…But Longhena was unable to see his work completes:

in 1682, when he died, the majestic façade onto the Grand Canal, with its triple door onto the water, had only reached the first floor. On the other hand, the rear of the building, which faced onto Campo San Barnaba, had been completed and the family had taken up residence. However, as a result of economic problems, Filippo Bon’s heirs were obliged to sell the palace, which should have become the symbol of their centuries-old activity as entrepreneurs.

The façade of Ca’ Rezzonico on the Grand Canal

The façade of Ca’ Rezzonico on the Grand Canal

It was purchased in 1751 by the Rezzonico family, who originated from Lombardy and had recently acquired a noble title (in 1687) after paying a sizable sum into the exhausted coffers of the Republic. Giorgio Massari was commissioned to complete the building. The young architect made some changes to the original project, especially in the second floor facing onto the Grand Canal. He also created an imposing entrance from the street with an impressive staircase leading up to the ballroom on the first floor. The ballroom was an unusual size and style and also in an unusual position by comparison with the traditional layout of Venetian buildings.

The magnificent ballroom in Ca’ Rezzonico

The magnificent ballroom in Ca’ Rezzonico

The work had to be done in a great hurry, because the palace was to house the splendid festivities and celebrations that accompanied the election of Carlo Rezzonico, Bishop of Padua, as Pope under the name of Clement XIII in 1758. Inventories of the goods contained in the palace illustrate what a splendid life the Rezzonico family led. Within the brief space of 50 years, they counted two cardinals (appointed by Clement XIII Rezzonico himself, who was famous for his nepotism) and a Procurator of San Mark. But the family’s fortunes lasted little more than half a century and in 1810 the family itself died out. From then onwwards the palace passed through a number of hands, some famous like Carlo Pindemonte, relative of Ippolito Pindemonte, the poet, and Robert Barret Browning. Browning jr. died in 1889, in what had been the private apartments of Pope Clement XIII. In 1934 the palace was purchased by the Municipality of Venice for use as a Museum of the Eighteenth Century.