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Palazzi Barbaro

Henry James's favourite

Palazzi Barbaro

Near the Ponte dell'Accademia, this double palace, one of the landmarks near the mouth of the Grand Canal, once belonged to one of Venice's pre-eminent patrician families. The Barbaro clan made its fortune in the salt trade, and famously (or infamously) boasted of its military prowess on the facade of Santa Maria Zobenigo.

The Venetian Gothic side was designed in 1425 by Giovanni Bon, and is one of the best surviving palaces in the style; the Baroque side was added in 1694 by Antonio Gaspari. It had a grand ballroom decorated by Sebastiano Ricci and Piazzetta, and a magnificent library with a ceiling on the Glory of the Barbaro Family by Giambattista Tiepolo.

But after Venice fell to Napoleon it all went sour for the family, and by 1851, when Ruskin visited Venice, only two elderly Barbaro brothers survived, eking out a meagre existence in the garret. After their deaths, it was sold to speculators who stripped of its art (Tiepolo's fresco now adorns the Metropolitan Museum in New York).

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Venetian Gothic


Film Sets


Sestiere San Marco

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Godromil, P-D Art