Accademia Galleries - Palladio Wing Rooms

Photo: ORCH_Chemollo

The Venice in Peril Fund has undertaken to raise € 100,000 to help fund the final fitting out of seven of the new ground floor rooms in the Palladian wing of the Accademia Galleries in Venice. It is a joint project with Venice International Foundation.

What is the Background to this?
The Accademia has recently doubled the size of its exhibition space in a €26 million state funded building project, designed by Tobia Scarpa, son of Carlo Scarpa the Venetian architect who was responsible between 1945-59 for the layout of the first floor. The work included the opening up of the courtyard and the construction of flood defences and a basement level housing services and the concrete vasca or raft that defends the buildings against rising water levels.(See Summer 2014 Newsletter)

The new exhibition spaces will house some of the many works that have been stored in the gallery's deposits. The first four new rooms opened on 9 May 2015 and focus on Venetian portraiture, 16th century collecting, architecture and ceiling paintings. The same day, Samsung with Venetian Heritage another of the private committees operating in Venice in support of conservation projects in the city, announced that it would finance the hanging of Rooms 5 and 6.

The Accademia Galleries sought funding for the final fit out of seven more rooms 7-13 with the aim of opening them later in 2015.

Where are these new rooms?
These rooms are in the spectacular wing built by Andrea Palladio which has been hidden from public view for many years but will now be accessible.

The Accademia delle Belli Arti - the art schools - originally founded in the 18th century, but based on this site since 1807, occupied Palladio's building until recently. It was here that the great Venetian academicians, like Antonio Canova, Leopoldo Cicognara met and taught.

What will be shown in these rooms?
The rooms will be thematically devoted to Venice as seen from abroad, to the history of the Academy and the Academicians' response in the early 19th century to their renewed role in post-Napoleonic Venice as guardians of Venetian art. Amongst the works will be paintings by artists such as Marieschi, Guardi and Canaletto, portraits by Rosalba Carriera, works by Sebastiano Ricci, Amigoni, GD Tiepolo and Hayez as well as the sculptures by Canova and his contemporaries.

Why the Venice in Peril Fund?
Through a current major project to restore the monument to Canova in the Basilica of the Frari, the Venice in Peril Fund has become closely associated with Canova.

In 2012 the Fund financed the conservation of three of Canova's preparatory models or - bozzetti; the Wrestlers, the Pieta and his Monument to Titian. The latter was subsequently adapted both for the tomb of Maria Cristina, in the Augustinerkirche, in Vienna, and by Canova's students, for their monument to Canova in the Basilica of the Frari. In 2013 two handsome Canova plaster lions were also restored under the auspices of Venice in Peril Fund. They are casts of those on the tomb of the Venetian Pope Clement XIII in St Peter's Rome and had been used as models by generations of Academy students.

All of these works will be exhibited in the new rooms. Early in 2015 another project, to restore the handsome Empire Style President's Chair and table, reached its appeal target through the generosity of VIPF private donors. Designed between 1810-1820 by Giuseppe Borsato, the Accademia's Professor of 'Ornato', the furniture will shortly be returned to Palladio's Tablino, an interior inspired by Roman villa layout, which is the final room in the sequence. The Cattedra, as the furniture is described, was made for Leopoldo Cicognara, a significant cultural figure and reformer, who was President of the Accademia when Canova died in 1822, and who organised a Europe-wide subscription to pay for the monument to his friend in the church of the Frari.

Palladio, Canova and collecting in Britain
Given the importance of Palladio, view painting and Canova for the history of taste and collecting in Britain - in the 1990s a major public campaign led to the successful acquisition of Canova's Three Graces for national collections - the Venice in Peril Fund Trustees felt that this project would strike a chord with its supporters in the UK. However the fascinating history of the Accademia, with which English collectors had links in the past, is little known in this country. This link shows, for example, that George IV had contact with the Accademia in Venice, sending Leopoldo Cicognara casts of the some of the Elgin marbles.

The Venice in Peril Fund in partnership with the Venice International Foundation
The Venice in Peril Fund has undertaken to contribute €100,000 and is delighted to be a partner in this campaign, with Venice International Foundation which has pledged more than double this figure. The Venice International Foundation is also closely involved with other Canova projects including the Canova exhibits at the Museo Correr and at Possagno. It recently undertook the project to conserve Borsato's secular monument to Canova which will be the focus of the Tablino and includes an early porphyry urn with neoclassical mounts.   

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