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The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

Judith Mackrell

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Hardback

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Thames & Hudson
01 April 2017
History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -; Palaces, chateaux, country houses; Biography; Biography: arts & entertainment
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The glamorous Venetian setting and backdrop of 2 World Wars adds to the drama and intensity of these 3 extraordinary women. Intelligent and unique, they dictated their own destinies with passion and without compromise. Including tales of the artists, intellectuals and general glitterati that filled their lives, Judith Mackrell's new book is a fascinating insight into a lost world. Siân McNabney

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Commissioned in 1750, the Palazzo Venier was planned as a testimony to the power and wealth of a great Venetian family, but the fortunes of the Venier family waned and the project was abandoned with only one storey complete. Empty, unfinished, and in a gradual state of decay, the building was considered an eyesore. Yet in the early 20th century the Unfinished Palazzo's quality of fairytale abandonment, and its potential for transformation, were to attract and inspire three fascinating women at key moments in their lives: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim.

Each chose the Palazzo Venier as the stage on which to build her own world of art and imagination, surrounded by an amazing supporting cast, from d'Annunzio and Nijinsky, via Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton, to Yoko Ono. Luisa turned her home into an aesthete's fantasy where she hosted parties as extravagant and decadent as Renaissance court operas - spending small fortunes on her own costumes in her quest to become a 'living work of art' and muse to the artists of the late belle epoque and early modernist eras.

Doris strove to make her mark in London and Venice during the glamorous, hedonistic interwar years, hosting film stars and royalty at glittering parties. In the postwar years, Peggy turned the Palazzo into a model of modernist simplicity that served as a home for her exquisite collection of modern art that today draws tourists and art-lovers from around the world. Mackrell tells each life story vividly in turn, weaving an intricate history of these legendary characters and the Unfinished Palazzo that they all at different times called home.
By:   Judith Mackrell
Imprint:   Thames & Hudson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   790g
ISBN:   9780500518663
ISBN 10:   0500518661
Pages:   408
Publication Date:   01 April 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

Skillfully weaves historical details into absorbing biographical profiles while also capturing the charm of Venice... Mackrell explores [the] eventful lives [of] three remarkable women [who] differed in many ways, but points out their similarities in motivation, independence, daring unconventionality, and historic roles in Venice and social culture. Her astute commentary is particularly illuminating, enlarging the reader's understanding of these individuals and the larger framework of their worlds. Well-chosen photographs and comprehensive notes and bibliography enhance the volume. The Unfinished Palazzo tells the stories of notoriously eccentric women: the Marchesa Luisa Casati, from Milan, a champion exhibitionist who considered her life (and especially her person) to be a work of art; Doris, Lady Castlerosse, an Englishwoman whose lovers included both Winston Churchill and his son, Randolph; and finally [Peggy] Guggenheim, the American art patron who bequeathed the mansion to her family's foundation as a museum of modern art. ... Their life stories are flashy, a kaleidoscope of bad marriages, bad divorces, Fortuny dresses, outlandish costume parties, fashionable portraits, excessive champagne, famous lovers, pickup lovers, alienated children and overlapping celebrity acquaintances. ... In more enlightened times these women might have had solid accomplishments...but Mackrell's documentation of their relentless self-absorption and unfiltered vanity argues against it.


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