One of Venice’s most fascinating museums, the Museo Fortuny, stages an excellent programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Currently The Cadorin Bottega: A Dynasty of Venetian Artists, on view until 27th March , presents a beautifully curated survey of over 200 works by four generations of artists, architects, musicians and photographers working in Venice across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, serving both as an intimate family album and a sweeping overview of artistic activity in Venice during this lesser-known period in the city’s cultural history.
Hidden away in a quiet campo in Sestiere San Marco is the magnificent fifteenth century Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, which houses the Museo Fortuny. Originally owned by the Pesaro family, the vast Gothic palace was bought in 1899 by the Spanish artist and designer Mariano Fortuny, who today is regarded as one of the great creative talents of the twentieth century.
Born into a renowned family of artists in Granada in 1871, Fortuny grew up in Paris, where he studied as a painter. He moved to Venice in 1889 at the age of eighteen, and here – in this most theatrical of cities – his interest gradually shifted from painting to set design and stage lighting. Profoundly influenced by the theories of German composer Richard Wagner, his goal was to achieve a total union of music, drama, architecture and visual effects, and over the following years his revolutionary lighting and set designs earned him commissions in some of Europe’s most important theatres, stately homes and museums. His most significant achievements, however, were in the field of fashion and textile design, and following the establishment of his couture house in 1906, Fortuny designs became famous throughout the world – celebrated for their simple lines, luminous colours and flowing fabrics that liberated women from the constricting corsets, buttons and girdles that had previously been in vogue.
Towards the end of the 1930s Fortuny retired from his busy textile factory on Giudecca to his private palazzo, where he once again took up painting and began compiling a record of his remarkable and varied career. Following his death at the palazzo in 1949, the building was left to the city of Venice by his widow Henriette, ensuring that his beloved home and workshop would be preserved and enjoyed by generations to come.
Situated on Campo San Beneto, only a few minutes’ walk from our VE306 Stunning palazzo apartment Santo Stefano with two terraces property on Campo Santo Stefano, Museo Fortuny offers a wealth of insights into Fortuny’s life and legacy, as well as an immersive introduction to his very particular aesthetic. Darkly lit by Fortuny lamps, draped in rich fabrics and filled with an eclectic array of antiquities, curios and artworks, the enormous first floor atelier has an extraordinaryfin de siecle atmosphere that vividly evokes the spirit of Fortuny’s bohemian lifestyle. As well as displaying a number of his iconic dresses, thepiano nobile also presents examples of his stage sets, photographs and textile designs (still produced to this day in the Fortuny Factory on Giudecca) – while on the second floor Fortuny’s Private Library has been preserved, complete with his collection of statuary and taxidermy.
For more information about Museo Fortuny, visit www.fortuny.visitmuve.it