Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flashback Summer! Napoleon Interview - Palladio's Refectory on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice

Baldassare Longhena Stair Hall at Giorgio Cini Foundation - Photo: Cat Bauer
Baldassare Longhena Stair Hall at Giorgio Cini Foundation
(Venice, Italy) I wrote about Palladio's Refectory at the Giorgio Cini Foundation on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore back on April 15, 2012 when it re-opened after being restored. I had been reading old articles written by Art Buchwald, who I had always loved. I can't remember the exact column, but I think he had conducted an imaginary interview with someone who was dead, and I thought that sounded like a fun thing to do. So, I interviewed Napoleon instead of writing a straight post about Palladio's Refectory. Although I am certainly no Art Buchwald, it turned out to be one of my more popular posts, and is evergreen, so here it is again for Flashback Summer:

Palladio’s Refectory - Unveiling of the Restoration


Palladio’s Refectory with Paolo Veronese’s Wedding at Cana facsimile
(Venice, Italy) On September 11, 1797, the French commissars of the Napoleonic army swiped Paolo Veronese's immense painting, Wedding at Cana, from the Palladio Refectory on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore as war booty. The original is now in the Louvre, in Paris. On September 11, 2007, on the 210th anniversary of the removal, a computerized recreation was unveiled.

From Wikipedia:

On 11 September, 2007, the 210th anniversary of the looting of the painting by Napoleon's troops, a facsimile of the original was hung in its original place in the Palladian Refectory. The computerized facsimile was commissioned by the Giorgio Cini Foundation of Venice with the collaboration of the Musée du Louvre, Paris, where the original remains, and made by the Factum Arte Institute of Madrid, headed by the British artist Adam Lowe. It consists of 1,591 computer graphic files.

I decided to ask The Emperor himself what he thought about the situation. I found Napoleon sitting in the French Quarter of the Afterworld, sipping Champagne.

"Are the French ever going to give the Wedding at Cana back to Venice?"

Horses of San Marco
Napoleon frowned. "They got back the horses. It is enough."

"Yes, they got back the horses, but the Venetians stole them from Constantinople in the first place, so they don't really count," I insisted. "The Wedding at Cana was painted specifically by Veronese to decorate the Palladian Refectory. It was there for 235 years until your troops ripped it off the wall."

"It was war, ma petite chérie. These things happen." Napoleon looked me over and raised an eyebrow. "Where are you from? America?"

"...Yes," I hesitated. "But I've lived in Venice since 1998."

"Remember when the Americans changed the name French fries to Freedom fries in 2003 because we told them not to invade Iraq? That was amusing. They even changed the name on the menus in the restaurants and snack bars in the House of Representatives!" Napoleon chuckled. "French fries come from Belgium."

"So, you're not giving it back."

"Never." The Emperor became serious. "Do you know how much we spent to restore that painting? More than a million dollars. We're keeping it. The fascimile is excellent. Most people will never realize it is a copy."

"The House of Representatives put French fries back on the menu in 2006..."

"Never!"

Wedding at Cana - Musée du Louvre
Back on Earth, inside the Palladian Refectory, the facsimile is, indeed, excellent; the latest restoration of the refectory itself -- especially the wooden paneling, which gives warmth to the room -- has re-established the original vision shared between Palladio and Veronese.

From the Giorgio Cini Foundation:

After having been closed for a year for major structural and functional restoration works, Palladio’s Refectory with Paolo Veronese’s Wedding at Cana facsimile is once more open for public use. Architect Michele De Lucchi’s refurbishing project for the refectory involved various important operations: the renovation of the roof, which required urgent repair work; the modernisation of the air-conditioning and lighting plants and equipment; the introduction of up-to-date security equipment; and the installation of wooden paneling on the interior walls and floors to restore the acoustic and aesthetic function of the old wainscoting, which had been removed during the various uses of the Island of San Giorgio before Vittorio Cini’s redevelopment programme in the 1950s. 
...The restoration work was funded by the Magistrato alle Acque, Venice, and Arcus spa. 

It is possible to visit the monumental complex of San Giorgio Maggiore and see the marvelous Palladio Refectory yourselves thanks to guided tours organized with Codess Cultura. 

For further information, please visit www.cini.it 
English: http://www.cini.it/index.php/en/content/index

Information and reservations:
Codess Cultura
+39 041 5240119
visiteguidate.cini@codesscultura.it 


Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. I wrote about Palladio's Refectory at the Giorgio Cini Foundation on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore back on April 15, 2012 when it re-opened after being restored. I had been reading old articles written by Art Buchwald, who I had always loved. I can't remember the exact column, but I think he had conducted an imaginary interview with someone who was dead, and I thought that sounded like a fun thing to do.

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