When the Al-Thani collection’s Parisian setting hosts the collection of Baron Giorgio Franchetti (1865-1922), the result is truly spectacular.
Pâris Bordone (1500-1571), Venus Discovered by Cupid, oil on canvas, 86 x 137 cm/33.9 x 53.9 in.
Venice, Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro, Direzione Regionale Musei Veneto - Reproduced with permission from the Ministero della Cultura/Photo: Matteo De Fina
Over 70 works, mainly paintings and sculptures are on view, and most of them have left the Venetian city for the first time. In July 1916, as the City of the Doges was being bombed, the baron donated both his collection and the palace housing it to the Italian state. At the age of 57, racked by illness, he took his own life, and never saw the completion of his project for a museum, which was finally achieved in January 1927. A very private place little known to tourists, the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro, currently closed for renovation, contains a wealth of masterpieces linked with the history of Venice. First and foremost, the origin of a city built from nothing and its relationship with the world are evoked through various media like a Crucifixion from Van Eyck’s studio, some small bronzes including a remarkable Belvedere Apollo by Pier Jacopo Alari, aka the Antico, and various terracottas. The central room is dedicated to the golden age of the Venetian art scene, between the second half of the 15th and the 16th centuries, with an array of paintings and sculptures that form the core of the collection, in which Jacopo Sansovino rivals Cristoforo Solari and Tullio Lombardo, while Michele da Verona responds to Titian and Tintoretto. But the real gem of the collection is Andrea Mantegna's Saint Sebastian, the artist's last masterpiece, discovered in his studio after his death. Giorgio Franchetti built a marble chapel—a gesamtkunstwerk (a total work of art)—to house this painting, which can be admired up close for the first time. The tour ends with a gallery of sculpted portraits inspired by antiquity, ranging from the Renaissance to early Baroque. These busts in the round illustrate the sculptors' quest for naturalism, influenced by the experiments of Florentine artists and their mastery in bringing cold matter to life.