Palazzo Fortuny (Pesaro degli Orfei), Venice

4.2
#19 of 87 in Museums in Venice
Costruito per iniziativa di Benedetto Pesaro a partire dalla metà del Quattrocento, Palazzo Fortuny, già Pesaro degli Orfei, si presenta oggi nella sua imponente mole con una facciata verso il rio di Ca’ Michiel e con una più estesa, e tra le più complesse del gotico veneziano, sul campo di San Beneto.

Il Palazzo, la cui struttura architettonica risponde pienamente alla tradizione veneziana, vanta alcune soluzioni di rilevante pregio come le due eptafore del primo e del secondo piano nobile e un’inusuale profondità dei porteghi.

Gli interni presentano alcuni elementi architettonici particolarmente rilevanti e raffinati, come gli architravi lignei e i pilastri in marmo scolpito del primo piano nobile.

Sviluppatosi su di un complesso sorto con caratteristiche di fondaco commerciale, l’edificio fu ampliato e trasformato nel corso dei secoli.

Fu in uno stato di degrado e decadenza che, nel 1898, Mariano Fortuny occupò l’enorme stanza del sottotetto, stabilendovi uno studio per le sue sperimentazioni artistiche e scenotecniche.

Nel corso degli anni, acquisite le altre parti dell’immobile, egli iniziò il lavoro di recupero della struttura riportando equilibrio e proporzione ed elesse Palazzo Pesaro Orfei a propria dimora. Nel 1907, assieme alla compagna e musa ispiratrice Henriette Nigrin, vi installò il primo laboratorio per la stampa su tessuto.

Dopo pochi anni due interi piani del palazzo furono occupati dallo straordinario atelier per la creazione di abiti e tessuti in seta e velluto stampati.

Nel 1956, dopo la morte di Fortuny (avvenuta nel 1949), l’edificio fu donato al Comune di Venezia per essere “utilizzato perpetuamente come centro di cultura in rapporto con l’arte”. L’amministrazione cittadina entrò in pieno possesso del palazzo nel 1965, data della morte di Henriette e, nel 1975, aprì al pubblico le porte della singolare casa-museo.

Il Museo di Palazzo Fortuny si è caratterizzato nel corso degli anni come centro di attività espositive dedicate alle arti visive, conservando però intatte le caratteristiche di ciò che fu l’atelier di Mariano Fortuny. Al primo piano nobile preziosi tessuti in velluto di seta e cotone rivestono interamente le pareti. Lo spazio, strutturato in quinte teatrali, accoglie una ricca collezione di opere che ben testimonia i diversi campi di indagine in cui Fortuny si cimentò: dipinti, fotografie, disegni, incisioni, sculture, lampade tecniche e per l’arredo, modelli teatrali, tessuti stampati e abiti, dai celebri Delphos ai costumi per la scena.

Le fonti d’ispirazione di questo eclettico artista sono ancora rintracciabili nella straordinaria biblioteca privata, al secondo piano, ricchissima di arredi, oggetti d’arte e rari volumi d’arte e di tecnica.

Palazzo Fortuny è tutt’ora testimonianza della geniale capacità creativa di questo artista tra rielaborazione, sperimentazione e innovazione, e della sua presenza sulla scena intellettuale e artistica internazionale a cavallo tra Ottocento e Novecento.

Palazzo Fortuny, built for Benedetto Pesaro from the mid-fifteenth century and already known as Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, is nowadays a massive building boasting two imposing facades, one overlooking the Ca’ Michiel canal and the larger one - among the most complex examples of Venetian Gothic - facing Campo San Beneto.

The architectural structure of the house fully reflects the Venetian tradition and offers several solutions of significant value, like the two seven-light pointed arch windows on the first and second floor, and the unusual length of the rooms that span the entire width of the building from facade to facade. The interiors display particularly refined and relevant architectural features, such as the wooden architraves and sculptured marble pillars of the first floor.

Erected on a previous building constructed with the characteristics of a commercial fondaco, the typical Venetian trading house and warehouse, it was later enlarged with the addition of the rooms and storerooms along the axis that connects the canal-side entrance to the landward entrance, the portego.

It was in a state of total neglect and decay when in 1898, attracted by its architectural beauty, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo took over the huge room located in the attic of the building, establishing his own studio in the loft. Here he worked on his renowed artistic experiments and stage set designs.

Over the years, Fortuny acquired the other parts of the property, and began to gradually restore the building, bringing balance and proportion back to the house. Fortuny eventually chose Palazzo Pesaro Orfei as his permanent home and in 1907, together with his wife and muse Henriette Nigrin, he set up a small workshop of fabric printing. In a few years, two entire floors of the building were occupied by his extraordinary atelier for the creation of distinctive dresses and silk and velvet printed fabrics.

In 1956, after Fortuny’s death (1949), the building was donated to the City of Venice to be “perpetually used as a center of culture in relation to the arts.” The city administration came into full possession of the building in 1965, at Henriette’s death and, in 1975, the doors of this unique house-cum-museum were opened to the public.

Over the years, the Palazzo Fortuny Museum has always been considered as a centre set for exhibitions focused on visual arts, keeping, though, the typical features of Mariano Fortuny’s atelier. The space, structured like the wings of a theatre stage, houses a rich collection of works of art demonstrating Mariano’s different fields of investigation and experimentation: painting, photography, drawing, engraving, sculpture, technical and furnishing lamps, theatre models, printed fabrics and clothes, from the famous Delphos to theatre costumes.

The source of inspiration of this eclectic artist can be found even today in his extraordinary private library, on the second floor, rich with furnishings, objects of art and rareart and technique volumes.

Nowadays, Palazzo Fortuny still testifies Mariano’s brilliant capability of re-elaborating, experimenting and renovating, together with his impact on the international artistic and intellectual scene between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
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Palazzo Fortuny (Pesaro degli Orfei) Reviews
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  • The fabric and photographs, paintings, artifacts— oh my what a lots of wonderful real things to get close to without the crowds. In depth story about the family and the fabric designs. Peggy...  more »
  • One of my favourite palazzi in Venice, the grand facade hides the decaying interiors bursting to overflowing on the main floors with the personal collections of a family who never seemed to have...  more »
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  • Have been visiting Venice annually for quite some time now and have never missed out on visiting Fortuny! You'll be treated with atmosphere that leaves you feeling as if you were visiting someone's magnificent home and having the chance to get a peek at their art collection that they maybe didn't even plan to show to anyone.
  • This is the most amazing art gallery. It is full of treasures from all periods and styles, yet still feels like a home. Put this on your Venetian itinerary!

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