Walking in Venice, you may be interested in visiting Palazzo Fortuny. n older ages, this 15th century building was property of the Pesaros and one century ago it belonged to Mariano Fortuny Madrazo, a Spanish artist, fashion and set designer and painter, well known for his production series of fabrics, which he used to create shawls, and the renowned Delphos and Knossos tunics.
Nowadays it serves as a museum. Currently, this gothic palace hosts exhibitions and you can admire its unique furnishings (from the lavish woven tapestries to the private library) of the former owner, Mariano Fortuny.
Originally, he made his reputation on several theatre lighting systems and patents. Simultaneously, he licensed other of his inventions, for example the popular clothes' fold. You can reach the Palace at San Marco 3958, 30124 Venezia
Until March 8 the venue hosts an exhibition dedicated to the Marchioness Luisa Casati Stampa, an extravagant woman who wanted to be remembered as a living work of art.
She was born in Milan in a rich family of manufacturers, and, later on her marriage to the nobleman Casati Stampa, she had been moving around Europe (Venice, Paris, Rome, and London). She was friend and customer to Mariano Fortuny, as ladies of the belle époque's jet-set used to have one of Fortuny's famous folded tunics (Delphos and Knossos).
So, the character of the Casati Marchioness was controversial and legendary at the same time. She loved to throw sumptuous parties and be surrounded by exotic animals, like cheetah, leopards, tortoises and peacocks. She personally made trips to European zoos to buy the specimen she longed to have.
For this purpose, the Casati family rented Ca' Venier Dei Leoni, (now Peggy Guggenheim Museum) to contain all of her animals in the garden. Masquerade balls with impressive disguises and outfits (panther skin tights and peacock feathers were a must) and galas were her peculiarity, but she also been recalled as the lady who used to walk naked in San Marco Square with a leopard on a leash.
Personally, I admire eccentric people, they reflect a bit of my personality and this woman figure wins on everybody. She enjoyed a transgressive life and she had lots of affairs, the most popular one with the provocative writer Gabriele D'Annunzio: after their meeting she totally devoted her life to extravaganza and to the uttermost unconventionality. As one can read on the biography poster, "it took fifteen railway wagons to carry the furnishings and marbles from her house in Rome to the new one in Paris". Just amazing and crazy!
So, the exhibition mainly consists of a hundred pictures and portraits - signed by Man Ray, Giovanni Boldini, Van Dogen and many more - that depict the legend and the life of this powerful woman. Also, there are still references of her influence in the fashion industry: a couple of John Galliano's gowns, dated back in the 90s and designed for Dior, are present in the building too, as well as other frocks and haute couture dresses. Sculptures, jewels and drawings regarding her persona are lent by private collections. The three-storey building plays a good container to house Luisa Casati valuable memories, with a well-stocked bookstore set at the first floor. I had some doubts on the lights: I found the whole installation a little bit dark and sometimes unclear. I cannot but recommend everyone to take a chance to visit such a fascinating path in which art and personal life intertwine in such a deep way.