Posted by: jeanne | February 18, 2017

ca’ pesaro

today i slept until noon, and i think i’m mainly over whatever the hell it was. the fog persisted, and the call was for rain, so we dashed out about 1:30 and decided to take in the william merritt chase exhibit at ca’ pesaro.

the thing about venice is that it only seems like a maze, but you soon get used to the complexity, and the joke about ‘just go straight’ makes a lot more sense. of course, straight doesn’t mean the shortest distance between two points, but rather the obvious route. instead of ‘just go straight’ you could easily say ‘just follow the tourists’ and arrive at the same result. the interesting thing about today’s ramble is that we actually managed to find a route that we hadn’t been on before.

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the sign says no big ships. we saw our first cruise shit the other day, coming back from panorama. it sticks up over everything, white and hulking, like some construction fabric over an unsightly renovation project. the cavitation erodes foundations, the thousands of tourists clot all the streets, and it’s a good thing there are few public toilets, because they’d clog up too.

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nice little dead-end. i might paint it

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another dead-end that used to go somewhere before they bricked it up

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an excellent window surrounded by crumbling plaster and eroding bricks

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a well-head with a tree growing out of it

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a pretty cryptic piece of stonework in the courtyard of what we mistook for ca’ pesaro but was a luxury hotel

we got to ca’ pesaro without any trouble, even tho i didn’t use my map app. it always feels like a victory. it’s an enormous old 17th century palazzo, still very grand. designed by longhena, who had a hand in the monastery on san giorgio, and did really nice staircases – grand but not overwhelming. just look at the pavement on the landing:

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connor got to the piano nobile before us, of course, and reported that there were zombies there. and he was right – rodin’s burghers of callaisburghers of calais. this isn’t a cast copy of the original, but a plaster assembly. given plaster’s fragility, it’s remarkable that you can go right up and touch it (connor did). one hard knock and there’d be a hole in one of the figures.

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i’m not going to even attempt to talk about or show all the works on the first piano nobile, but here are details of several that caught my eye.

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something that nobody does is to look up or down. everybody looks at the walls, but the ceilings are mainly the old original decorations, including paintings by all sorts of people. the titian has been moved to ca’ rezzonico, but the rest of them (i asked) are original.

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the floors are also spectacular. i didn’t know you could do anything other than random patterns with terrazzo flooring but the floors are exquisite.

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connor made himself known to all the staff, on every floor. he had these folks eating out of the palm of his hand. actually, that’s not true. with a gestured question to me, they handed him a candy bar that he ate with great relish (only to ask for the oreos we had brought him a minute later). they all know his name now, and how old he is, and as we left each floor they all said ciao.

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i’m not going to enumerate the very nice bonnard, or the dufy, or the drawings by max beckman.

the guard in the modern modern rooms took great pains to take connor around and show him how the calder spins when you wave a placard at it, and discussed things to look at in various paintings (the tancredi).

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i’m not going to talk about the klee, miro, or several kandinskys that were there, nor the other modern moderns that i have never heard of but that jim was introduced to in first year art school. the juxtoposition of modern modern with baroque was too much for me.

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and connor wanted to know if this was a monster. what could i say? he mugged in attack mode so i would take a picture of him preparing to hulk smash the statue, so i guess it was a monster.

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meanwhile, jim found a pretty girl to chat up. he had forgotten that max klinger – whose fame was in etching – was also an accomplished sculptor. whenever i lose jim in a crowd, i look for the pretty girls, and there he is. it’s a joke between us at this point.

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from the sublime to the ridiculous, the exhibit below inspired me to suggest to jim that the next time he submits to the pastel society (which he always gets thrown out of), he should submit something like this: the rules, laid out literally. i’m pretty sure they wouldn’t get the joke, however.

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and then it was upstairs to the second piano nobile, for the william merritt chase paintings. he’s a painter on a par with whistler and sargent, an excellent craftsman and very famous in his time – the period of great change that ended the classical period of art and came right before the modern period. he’s linked to the impressionists as well, and taught many of american’s best artists of the era.

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venice still largely looks like this, if you take out the tourists with their selfies

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i just love his interiors, and the still lives, and his portraits with their loose brushwork reminiscent of frans hals

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connor wanted to know if the red was blood, but i explained that the palette had all the colors needed to paint the self portrait, but that the squiggles on the canvas behind the painter were just squiggles, and didn’t really represent anything.

we went downstairs for a rest before going in to the oriental art part of the museum.  jim’s legs were tired; connor wanted his oreos; i wanted to get shots off the front steps.  the picture below is the ground floor, where the merchants traditionally stored their goods, so a warehouse kind of place.  by the baroque period, tho, the height and breadth of this room served only as a grand entrance.  and grand it is.

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from the cafeteria’s outside seating area, where we had 3 euro coffees.  i may want to paint this scene

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from the second piano nobile, looking out over the rooftops in the fog

the top floor is given over to a display of oriental art – shields, swords, guns, armor, the usual.  then a nice display including a movie about the process of lacquering and repairing objects.  and a lot of cups and urns and vases.  and a bunch of netsuke, which i’ve always liked.  here’s me and jim:

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the top floor plan, showing how the building curves, because there are no straight lines in venice

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we originally thought this figure was a display, until she got up, made a circuit around the room, and then resumed her seat and wrote in her notebook and played with her phone.  she was still there when we left.

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another view across the rooftops.  the place closed at 5, but by 3:30 the sky was dark and lowering, and nice and foggy.  i’d try to paint this but i’d go crazy

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we found this just outside the palazzo.  it must be very old, and it shows the construction of the curved surfaces under some of the chimneys we see.  they used reeds, and probably covered them with linen or some other strong fabric, and then plastered and painted over that.  very interesting

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and here’s connor pointing to yet one more toy that he wants me to take a picture of for santa, as if

finally we ended up at our favorite bakery, where connor is now fascinated with the pizza guy’s work, and wants to help.  he has sort of shifted his fascination from michela to the guys who work there, and they love him back, always wanting to high-five him, and to practice their english on him (have a nice day).

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and now we’re home, and it has rained a little bit, and we’ve had dinner, and are going to read connor his bedtime story and go to bed.

tomorrow we get a visit from our friend francis, who is flying in from barcelona for the weekend.  i’ll write about that later, maybe even after the weekend is over, depending on how much free time i have (like the time i spend blogging is ‘free’ time).

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