Ca' Rezzonico site was previously occupied by two houses belonging to the Bon family, one of Venice's patrician families. In 1649 the head of the family, Filippo Bon decided to build a large palazzo on the site. For this purpose he employed Baldassarre Longhena, the greatest proponent of Venetian Baroque. However, neither architect nor client was to see the completion of the Palazzo Bon: Longhena died in 1682, and Filippo Bon suffered a financial collapse.
Giambattista Rezzonico, merchant and banker, bought the palace in 1751 and appointed Giorgio Massari, one of the most highly esteemed and eclectic artists of the day, to complete the works, which proceeded rapidly and in 1756 the building was finished. While the magnificent facade on the Grand Canal and the second floor followed Longhena’s original project, Massari was responsible for the audacious inventions towards the rear of the palace: the sumptuous land-entrance, the ceremonial staircase and the unusual grandiose ballroom obtained by eliminating the second floor in this portion of the building.
As soon as the building was completed, the most important painters in Venice were called upon to decorate it. These were for example Giambattista Crosato, who painted the frescoes in the ballroom and Giambattista Tiepolo, who painted two ceilings in celebration of the marriage between Ludovico Rezzonico and Faustina Savorgnan.
The building was fully complete by 1758, when Giambattista Rezzonico’s younger brother, Carlo, Bishop of Padua, was elected Pope under the name Clement XIII: this was the peak of the family’s fortunes and the palace at San Barnaba celebrated the event in grand style. But by 1810 no family members were left. For the palace and its great heritage of art and history this was the beginning of a long, troubled period of sales and dispersions. After complex ownerships Ca' Rezzonico was sold to the Venice Town Council in 1935.
Ca' Rezzonico opened as a public museum in 1936. Today, it is one of the finest museums in Venice; this is largely because of its unique character, where objects designed for great palazzi are displayed in a palazzo, thus, the contents and the container harmonise in a way not possible in a purpose built museum. Thus, today the palazzo is more sumptuously furnished than ever before.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).