Ca' Rezzonico Museum
Ca' Rezzonico is now housing the Museum of Eighteenth Century Venice, Ca' Rezzonico is a majestic palazzo that dates back to 1649. Baldassarre Longhena, Venice's leading baroque architect, started building Ca' Rezzonico for the noble Bon family but when Longhena died in 1682 and the Bon family suffered a financial set-back, so work was suspended on the building, leaving it incomplete. In the meantime, the Rezzonico family - originally from Lombardy - had moved to Venice in 1687 and bought the noble title.
Giambattista Rezzonico, a merchant and banker, bought the palazzo in 1751 and entrusted its completion to Giorgio Massari. Massari was one of the most sought-after yet eclectic architects of the mid eighteenth century. Works went ahead at a good pace and the palazzo was finished in 1756.
While its exteriors were undergoing competition, Venice's greatest artists were commissioned to paint its interiors. Giambattista Crosato painted the frescos in the large hall with Pietro Visconti, while Giambattista Tiepolo painted two ceilings to celebrate the marriage of Ludovico Rezzonico and Faustina Savorgnan; other works included the young artist Jacopo Guarana and Gaspare Diziani.
The palazzo was finally completed in 1758, when Giambattista's younger brother, Carlo Rezzonicothe Bishop of Padua, was elected as Pope Clemente XIII. This event crowned the height of the family's fortunes and the palazzo of San Barnaba hosted a sumptuous party to celebrate.
In 1810, only fifty years later, the dynasty of the once-mighty Bon family came to an end. A 'dark age' began for the palazzo and its artistic treasures as it passed through several ownerships and its art collection was gradually dispersed.
The palazzo was stripped of its furnishings, split between heirs and then passed from owner to owner throughout the nineteenth century. It was then bought by the English painter, Robert Barret Browning. His father, the writer Robert Browning, chose it as his home and lived here until his death in 1889.
The palazzo was then bought by Count Lionello Hirschell de Minerbi, a Member of Italian Parliament. After a long and complex negotiation, the palazzo was handed over to the Venice City Council in 1935