Monday, June 16, 2014

Venetians Put on a Show(s) - Ancient Designer Sunglasses, a Playwright and a War Hero

18th Century Goldoni-type Sunglasses with Mocenigo Coat of Arms (Vascellari Collection, Italy)
(Venice, Italy) Two hundred years before John Lennon made wearing round lenses all the rage, Venice was busy setting a fashion trend all its own. Long before the rest of the world discovered the danger of ultra-violet rays in 1870, Venetian opticians were 120 years ahead of the curve, producing emerald-colored sunglasses to protect the eyes of the nobility and Commanders da Mar (of the sea) from the harmful glare of reflected light as they navigated the waters that surrounded them.

For the first time in the history of spectacles, the exhibition "Spectacles Fit for a Doge" at the majestic Sale Monumentale in the Marciana Library gathers together glasses from museums and private collections to examine a vital point in the history of eyewear.

The Doge was the ruler of the Venetian Republic, and a pair of sunglasses, complete with carrying case, which bear the Coat of Arms of the aristocratic Mocenigo family are featured in the exhibition, dating back to the time when Doge Alvise Giovanni Mocenigo was the leader from 1763 until his death on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1778.

Goldoni-type horn-rimmed spectacles with eyelet-shaped temple pieces and silk sunguards. Venice, 1760. (Vascellari Collection, Italy)
Venetian opticians were the first in Italy to produce eyeglasses with temple pieces that reached to the ear, holding the lenses more comfortably on the nose. To offer more protection, pieces of silk were attached to guard against the sun. No one knows for sure why they were called "Goldoni" glasses, but it is assumed that Carlo Goldoni, the famous Venetian playwright, was known for sporting a pair of the hip glasses as he tooled about town, much like John Lennon did two centuries later.

Oval lady’s-glass painted in Venetian lacquer colors using decoupage technique already fashionable among Venetian carpenters at the end of the 17th century. (Ingrid and Werner Weismueller, Germany)

The vetri da gondola or da dama (for ladies) were mounted in a frame similar to a hand-held mirror, and probably evolved from a monocle; they were modified to be used by wealthy women and children to protect their eyes while on outings in a gondola. The exhibition also features glasses created solely for entertainment, such as the vetri da avari (glasses for misers) with a kaleidoscope effect that turns one coin into many,  and the "Parisian," scissor-type lorgnettes named after Parisian dandies that stopped people on the street and blatantly gave them the once-over through a pair of comical lenses.

"Spectacles Fit for a Doge" is curated by Roberto Vascellari.

Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana Sale Monumentali
SPECTACLES FIT FOR A DOGE
Sunglasses in Eighteenth-Century Venice
June 14 to July 13, 2014
Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, "Sale Monumentali"
Click for more information

Promoters and Organizers
Comitato Venezia
Museo dell’Occhiale
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
Stazione Sperimentale del Vetro


Teatro Goldoni
Meanwhile, over at the Carlo Goldoni Theatre, another all-Venetian production is getting underway. The "Goldini Experience" is an homage to the great Venetian playwright, Carlo Goldoni. Set on the last night before the scribe left for Paris, and the last night of Carnival, Giuseppe Emiliani, who directs the show, has taken chunks of Goldoni's own text and compiled the prose into a collage of comical encounters between Goldoni and people who stumble into his orb. Using the original Venetian language, the show will also have English subtitles, making it accessible to both locals and tourists alike.

The Goldoni Experience opens on June 21, Art Night Venezia, (when most of Venice's museums, churches, galleries and foundations will stay open until 11pm or midnight with free entrance!), with free two shows at 7:30 and 10:00PM, and runs throughout the summer, with additional shows in October and November. After June 21st, full price tickets are €35, with sizable reductions for residents, students and families and may be purchased at Teatro Goldoni and Hellovenezia.

Press conference for the GOLDONI EXPERIENCE
Schedule

June through September:

Every Tuesday at 7pm
Every Friday at 8pm

June 21 - 7:30pm and 10pm
June 24 - 7:00pm
June 27 - 8:00pm

July 1, 8, 15, 22 at 7:00pm
July 4, 11, 12, 18 at 8:00pm

August 5, 12, 19, 26 at 7:00pm
August 1, 8, 15, 16, 22, 29, 30 at 8:00pm

Sept. 2 at 7:00pm
Sept. 5, 6 at 8:00pm
Sept. 7 to be announced

Oct. 31 at 8:00pm
Nov. 2 to be announced

THE GOLDONI EXPERIENCE
Fresco of Venice
Scenes of Daily Venetian Life in the 18th Century
Teatro Stabile del Veneto Carlo Goldoni
Click for more information

Bust of Sebastiano Venier by Alessandro Vittoria
"Many small things make many great things."

Sebastiano Venier (1496-1578) is one of Venice's most beloved historical figures. After defeating the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto, he became Doge. They say he died of a broken heart when a fire heavily damaged the Doge's Palace. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Venice Club of the International Inner Wheel, one of the world's largest women's organizations, the marble bust of the Venetian hero has been restored and stands proudly once again inside Palazzo Ducale over the Staircase of the Censors, in front of the door of the Armory. Manuela Savoia Rizzoli, the President of the Venice Club expressed the desire that Venetians return to their heritage and said, " It's a small thing, but, for us, it's a big thing."

Palazzo Ducale - Doge's Palace
Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Two hundred years before John Lennon made wearing round lenses all the rage, Venice was busy setting a fashion trend all its own. Long before the rest of the world discovered the danger of ultra-violet rays in 1870, Venetian opticians were 120 years ahead of the curve, producing emerald-colored sunglasses to protect the eyes of the nobility and Commanders da Mar (of the sea) from the harmful glare of reflected light as they navigated the waters that surrounded them.

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