Monday, July 6, 2015

Peek into the Private Lives of Venice Aristocrats - Pisani Moretta Family at Ca' Rezzonico

Curator Alberto Craievich with Amorino alato by Antonio Canova
(Venice, Italy) For centuries, the Pisani dynasty was synonymous with wealth and power in Venice.

The family divided into two branches in the 14th century. The Pisani dal Banco, who were located in Santo Stefano district, were responsible for building Villa Pisani in Stra, "The Queen of the Venetian Villas."

Over on the other side of the Grand Canal were the Pisani Moretta, who acquired the majestic Pisani Moretta palazzo in San Polo in 1629, one of the most impressive palaces in Venice that is still privately-owned.

The exhibition The Pisani Moretta Family - History and Collecting at Ca' Rezzonico, home of the Museum of 18th Century Venice, allows the public a gander at some of the goodies that have passed through the famous family over the centuries.

Like any good tale about Venetian aristocrats, the story involves a scandal over an inheritance. Pay attention, because the names can get confusing -- the aristocracy likes to name their kids after the ancestors.

"Palazzo Pisani Moretta (Venice)" Photo: Didier Descouens
In 1721, at the age of 17, Chiara Pisani, the only child of Francesco Pisani, married Gerolamo Pisani of the "dal Banco" branch. Her father died in 1737, and the then 33-year-old Chiara inherited a substantial fortune. Her husband died the next year; making Chiara an enormously wealthy widow with six kids.

Flush with funds (and no father or husband to accommodate), Chiara decided to restore her palace. She added a third floor complete with terrace overlooking the Grand Canal, and hired some of the most renowned artists and artisans to decorate it, including Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Toilet set by Augsburg silversmiths
Meanwhile, the kids grew up. Pietro Pisani, Chiara's oldest son, married Venetian noblewoman, Caterina Grimani, an excellent catch -- her father was a Procurator of San Marco, the second most prestigious life appointment in the Republic -- after the Doge, who happened to be her uncle.

However, Vettore, Chiara's younger son, fell in love with a woman who was not a member of the Venetian aristocracy. He secretly married her, which meant that any children he had would not be eligible to be in the ruling class. Chiara stepped in, and convinced Vettore to have the marriage annulled.

But it was too late -- the undesirable bride was already pregnant with Vettore's son (who would eventually be recognized and given the name Pietro Vettore). The boy-who-would-be-known as Pietro Vettore was shipped off to an exclusive boarding school in Rome.

Are you confused? 

Pietro - older son of Chiara
Vettore - younger son of Chiara
Pietro Vettore -- illegitimate son of Vettore

The Pisani-Moretta Exhibition
Chiara Pisani died suddenly in 1767, leaving her entire estate to Pietro, the eldest son, who had by then been given his father-in-law's job as a Procurator of San Marco. Unfortunately, Pietro and Caterina were childless.

However, younger brother Vettore came through and married a second, more suitable wife named Cornelia Grimani (yes, both brothers' wives had the same last name), and hopes for preserving the Pisani line were raised. Cornelia conceived, and, in 1774, had a baby... girl. Who was named... Chiara. After her deceased grandmother.

To recap:

Chiara Pisani - widow of Geralomo Pisani
Pietro - older son of Chiara, husband of Caterina Grimani - NO KIDS
Vettore - younger son of Chiara, husband of Cornelia Grimani - TWO KIDS - one illegitimate son named Pietro Vettore; one daughter named Chiara (II)

Then Vettore died suddenly! Leaving no male heir! Except, of course, for Pietro Vettore, his first-born child from the unsuitable bride, who was down in the boarding school in Rome. Uncle Pietro, the first Chiara's first-born son, became the guardian of both his deceased brother's children -- Pietro Vettore, and his half-sister, Chiara II.

Baby carriage
Uncle Pietro was now the lord of the Pisani-Moretta Palazzo, and he is the one who hired Antonio Canova, the famous Venetian sculptor, to execute some statues, one of which was his masterpiece "Daedalus and Icarus," which was in the entrance hall of the palace, and is now in the Correr Museum.

Daedalus and Icarus by Canova - Correr Museum
Meanwhile, Pietro Vettore, Vettore's son, had come of age and came barreling up to Venice from Rome, making it very clear that Uncle Pietro was going to have a battle on his hands. Pietro Vettore wanted his rightful inheritance, and hired some powerful lawyers to present his case. (Since his uncle was a Procurator, which was supposed to be the second most powerful job in Venice, this was no easy feat).

[An aside: the Office of the Procurator of San Marco was never abolished at the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797. It still exists to this very day. There are seven procurators these days, and they are responsible for administering the assets of the Basilica of San Marco under the authority of the Patriarch of Venice.]

The Farewell between Hector and Andromache by Luca Ferrari (1605-54)
The legal battle began in July, 1783, and it was the Trial of the Century. The boarding school in Rome had transformed Pietro Vettore into a charming, well-bred, likable young man, and the masses were rooting for him. Not only did he win his rightful share of his father's inheritance, he also got a title -- the Count of Bagnolo, located out in the Province of Rovigo.

Running low on the supply of Venice-born aristocrats, the Venetian Republic had passed a law in 1775 allowing the nobility from the Veneto terra firma acceptance into the Venetian patriciate, so just like a real-life fairy tale, the once-unwanted Pietro Vettore was now a wealthy member of the ruling class.

Pietro Vettore made a brilliant marriage to Laura Zusto in 1785. Unfortunately, Napoleon would conquer the Venetian Republic in 1797. When Pietro Vettore died in 1847, he left his son, Vettor Daniele, as his legal heir.

Vettor Daniele had five children, two of whom were male; both died young, wiping out the male Pisani line. Vettor Daniele's daughter Laura married into the noble Giusti del Giardino family, who left the Pisani Moretta palace to their Sammartini relatives in 1962, who own it today.

Pendant - Venice
According to the Venice Civic Museum site, "the Pisani -- and their heirs -- have for more than a century sought to ensure that a number of the extraordinary works of art in their collection remain within the city of Venice." Thanks to the generous support of the heirs, about one hundred works that once belonged to the Pisani Moretta are now on display at Ca' Rezzonico through October 19, 2015, documenting not only the precious works of art that belonged to the family, but allowing a peek into the daily life of one of Venice's most prominent families.

THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILY 
History and Collecting
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
July 4 - October 19, 2015 
EXTENDED!! UNTIL JANUARY 11, 2016
Ca' Rezzonico
 Museum of 18th Century Venice

THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/THE
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
THE PISANI MORETTA FAMILYHistory and collectingJuly 4 – October 19, 2015Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of 18th century Venice http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/the-pisani-moretta-exhibition/2015/03/7590/pisani-moretta-history-and-collecting/
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Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. For centuries, the Pisani dynasty was synonymous with wealth and power in Venice. The exhibition, The Pisani Moretta Family - History and Collecting at Ca' Rezzonico, home of the Museum of 18th Century Venice, allows the public a gander at some of the goodies that have passed through the famous family

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