The Grand Tour and Beyond: Collectors & Travellers in Venice from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries

Since the Middle Ages, Venice has been a magnet for travellers: from pilgrims en route to the Holy Land to eighteenth-century grand tourists making their cultural pilgrimage to Italy, who were drawn to the city by the carnival, the opera, the art collections, the beautiful courtesans and Venice’s reputation for pleasure. There the visiting milordi would sit for their portraits with the Venetian pastellist Rosalba Carriera, their carnival masks perched rakishly on their tricorn hats and commission view paintings from Canaletto as souvenirs to decorate their houses, while the Venetian aristocrats themselves provided munificent patronage to artists like Tiepolo. Despite the declining fortunes and fall of the Venetian Republic at the end of the eighteenth century, Venice continued to attract nineteenth-century visitors, notably Byron, Ruskin, Dickens and Wagner. In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an increasing number of Americans made a Grand Tour to Europe travelling by trains and transatlantic liners, notably Isabella Stewart Gardner who rented the Palazzo Barbaro during the 1890s providing hospitality and patronage for writers like Henry James and artists like Sargent. This tradition was continued in the twentieth century by Peggy Guggenheim who became a very important patron and collector of the modern movement and American writers such as the hard-drinking Hemingway, who mixed cocktails in Harry’s Bar.

This two-day itinerary enables you to follow in the footsteps of some of the famous travellers, collectors and writers who have visited Venice in the last two hundred years to experience some of the sights that they saw, while reading or listening to their accounts on the Colnaghi Foundation’s The Grand Tour in Venice microsite. But the itinerary is not just the story of foreign travellers to Venice: it also includes visits to some of the private museum collections formed by Venetians such as Teodoro Correr (now the Museo Correr), Count Giovanni Querini (Museo Querini-Stampaglia) and Baron Franchetti (Ca’ d’Oro) which are among the less-well known treasures of Venice.

Themes include: Venice in the Age of the Grand Tour; Nineteenth-century British visitors to Venice; Venetian treasure houses: private collections and palazzi in Venice; Peggy Guggenheim and her collection in Venice’s famous “unfinished palazzo”.



Ca’ Rezzonico

Venice’s museum of the eighteenth-century, housed in a splendid palazzo with magnificent furniture and paintings providing vivid glimpses of eighteenth-century life. To see:

Paintings by Pietro Longhi (The Rhinoceros, The Artists Studio)

Francesco Guardi – Parlatorio of Nuns and Ridotto

Canaletto - two views of Venice (his only vedute that are on public view in Venice)

Giambattista Tiepolo- Ceiling paintings of Allegory of Merit, Strength and Wisdom and Allegory of the Marriage of Ludovico Rezzonico

Giandomenico Tiepolo-Il Mondo Nuovo, Pulcinella in Love, Rinaldo and Armida, Promenade a Trois, from the Villa di Zianigo

Gianantonio Guardi - room of frescoes

Rosalba Carriera-Room of Pastel Portraits

Furniture by Andrea Bristolon and Antonio Corradini

Nineteenth-century views of Venice by Ippolito Caffi and Antonio Mancini (from the Egidio Martini collection)

18th century Pharmacy and laboratory

Mestrovich Collection (Cima da Conegliano - Ecce Homo, Bonifacio Veronese - Madonna and child, Francesca Guardi - Madonna and child)

Browning rooms (apartment occupied by the famours poet)

Museo Correr

Based on the private collection of Teodoro Correr (1750-1830) who collected works of art illustrating Venetian history. The collection was originally housed in Correr’s palazzo on the Grand Canal which was opened to the public in 1836 before being moved to the present site in the former apartments of Napoleon in 1922. Contains rooms devoted to Venetian festivals and ceremonies (such as the Doge’s marriage of the sea) as well as some very important Renaissance and baroque works of art and neoclassical masterpieces by Canova.

Formal hats worn by the Doges

Gentile Bellini - Doge Giovanni Moncenigo

Display commemorating the Bucintoro (room 45)

Paintings of Venetian festivals that grand tourists would of seen (rooms 46 - 53)

Palazzo Querini Stampalia

The Stampalia were among the richest and oldest families in Venice. In 1869 Count Giovanni Querini, the last of his line, bequeathed his collection to the City of Venice. Contains an important collection of paintings by Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Bella which record aspects of eighteenth-century life and the Grand Tour.

Thirty genres scenes by Pietro Longhi, notably, The Geography Lesson

Paintings of Venetian festivals by Gabriele Bella, including The Women’s Regatta

GiambattistaTiepolo - Portrait of Procurator Daniele Dolfin

Palazzo Grimani

The former home of ambassadors and collectors Domenico and Giovanni Grimani, this beautiful palazzo, which has now been reopened to the public boasted an important collection of classical sculpture which will be on view during the time of the 2019 Biennale.

Frescoes by Giovanni da Udine and Francesco Salviati

Graeco-Roman statues


Ca d’Oro

This jewel of Gothic architecture inspired both John Ruskin (Stones of Venice) and Isabella Stewart Gardner (the balconies of courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, Boston). It also houses the important collection of Baron Franchetti, who restored the palace in 1894 and opened to the public in 1916).

Ca’ Pesaro

A magnificent Renaissance Palace designed by Longhena which houses Venice’s Modern art museum and collection of oriental art.

Ippolito Caffi - Snow and Fog on the Grand Canal; Fair on the Quayside near San Marco

Luigi Nono - Abandonati

Giuseppe Signorini - Asylum Interior; November

Giuseppe De Nittis - Portrait of a Lady

Works exhibited at the Venice Biennale Exhibitions (1895-1930s)

Gustave Klimt - Salome

Marc Chagall - The Rabbi

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Housed in Venice’s famous “unfinished palazzo” this houses the very important collection of twentieth-century art put together by the American collector Peggy Guggenheim

Pablo Picasso -The Poet, The Studio

Georges Braque - The Clarinet

Fernand Leger -Men in the City

Umberto Boccione - Dynamism of a Speeding Horse; Houses

Georgio De Chirico - The Red Tower

Wassily Kandinksy -Landscape with a Red Spot

Paul Klee - Magic Garden

Salvador Dali - Birth of Liquid Desires

Jackson Pollock - Moon Woman