Discovering Querini Stampalia Palace in Venice
We left each other with a promise to go into more detail in the discovery of the Querini Stampalia Foundation collection.
Here I am to keep my promise, helping you to know and appreciate the objects, the paintings, the furniture and the precious furnishings that have accompanied the daily life, affections, work and culture of the Querini family, but which are also the mirror of a cosmopolitan city, very rich and elegant like the Venice of the time.
We begin our journey into the past by entering the palace from Campo Santa Maria Formosa. Once you cross the threshold, what immediately strikes you is the atmosphere of calm and tranquillity, the same that will characterize all rooms. An almost reverential silence reigns supreme, where you can breathe a rarefied air of other times. So we have the possibility to observe, appreciate and evaluate in a unique way every detail of the surrounding, and to undertake an imaginary journey into the glorious past of this Venetian family.
Along the walls, discreet and elegant, are placed sofas and chairs, decorated with fine silk tapestries, to the point that it almost seems to see family members with their guests sitting comfortably while sipping tea from one of the 224 porcelain cups of the majestic service that the family used.
And what about Alvise Querini’s bedroom? Everywhere you look around you will be amazed and enchanted by the beauty: at the top, the eyes are captured by the ceiling decorated with neoclassical frescoes and stuccos dating back to 1790, while, looking around, the attention is drawn to eight wonderful and precious armchairs furnishing furniture with rounded and rounded shapes, typical of the Rococo style. But the touch, all Venetian, is given by the sublime lacquer decorations: the ability of painters and decorators manifests itself in an inexhaustible imagination, which has its roots and finds its sources of inspiration in the art of the Far East, even if transposed into a Venetian dimension, with characteristic landscapes or typically rococo flowers. The “Venetianity”, then, is also found in the mirror, strictly in Murano glass, dating back to the first half of the 18th century.
But let’s go back to the porcelain. Yes, you read right: a service of 224 pieces is proudly displayed! During his stays in France Alvise Querini – a man of refined taste – had often visited the manufacture of Sèvres, to which he ended up commissioning a porcelain service à pâte tendre with groups of small figurines in biscuit for his table.
The service, still perfectly intact, presents an extraordinary variety of shapes, an unchanged gilding, some minute decorations, pure and precise colors and a clear and bright varnish. It is also thanks to the sight of these precious objects that seems to see them there, the Querini family, receiving their guests seated around the laid table, savoring – from appetizers to dessert – the delicacies of the typical Venetian gastronomy. And, so, we imagine them even at the end of the reception, when, satiated, they move to one of the adjacent rooms, to sip a coffee while they discuss the most varied topics.
The collection, however, is only at the beginning. Looking around, we can admire, in ecstasy, both the fourteenth-century works of the Neobizantine school and the Renaissance masterpieces such as the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Giovanni Bellini
There are also the portraits by Sebastiano Bombelli, the small canvases by Pietro Longhi, the scenes of public and private life in Venice by Gabriele Bella, a fundamental pictorial document to reconstruct a faithful image of eighteenth-century Venice, and, finally, the unmistakable work of the great Giambattista Tiepolo.
This is a collection of 400 paintings that have been purchased by the family over the centuries and that covers a vast span of time.
Thus, before our eyes the masterpieces of the greatest artists of the lagoon city flow, which have made the Venetian school famous throughout the world.
The paintings are accompanied by a collection of drawings attributed to various schools, including those of Giovanni Bellini and Tiziano. This fund has been enriched over time by private donations of drawings by 20th century artists, as well as by an interesting group of drawings by Carlo Scarpa, who collects projects and sketches for the restoration of the ground floor of Palazzo Querini in the early ‘60.
Religious scenes on the other hand are represented in the 14 fine quality wool and silk tapestries, from Flemish manufacture and dated between the second half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th. The Querini taste for fabrics is also manifested through the 70 examples of tapestries, curtains, trimmings, bows and ribbons.
A refined family like the Querini, then, could not fail to be passionate about music. Surely one of the most beloved pastimes of the nobles of the time was to play an instrument; in fact there are testimonies of violin and dance lessons. But the music also accompanied the parties and receptions that took place within the walls of the palace, and here, while walking through the halls, attention is also captured by a series of instruments, such as a viola, two violins, one of which of great value, an oboe, a transverse flute and a fortepiano of the nineteenth century.
Furthermore, if you are passionate about numismatics, you will not be disappointed! In fact, the coin collection is very rich, composed of 2616 pieces of which 870 Greek and Roman coins, 141 Venetian coins, 429 modern Italian and foreign coins and medals. Among the medals you can also admire the poem by the dogaressa Elisabetta Querini Valier.
Since the family was very active in Venice, the Querinis included among their members some Providers at the Artillery and the Arsenal, and to this we can trace the collection of 25 artillery models dated at the end of the 17th / 18th century, some of the which bear the Querinian coat of arms.
What to say? One would never tire of admiring the treasures kept within this beautiful Venetian palace and the visit could continue to discover all the modern acquisitions.
But first I suggest you take a break in the garden of the Foundation, restored by Carlo Scarpa, one of the masters of twentieth century architecture, perhaps sipping a good coffee and enjoying the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.