Save Venice hosted a Special Weekend in Venice “Celebrating Carpaccio”

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Celebrating Carpaccio participants on the Scala dei Giganti at Palazzo Ducale at Save Venice | Celebrating Carpaccio: A Special Weekend in Venice.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Yesterday was a beautiful summer day in New York with temps reaching up to the mid-80s but much lower humidity and lots of sunshine. It was a great relief to many. All of which followed a heavy, late night rainstorm that did a lot of damage upstate. 

Exactly a month ago on this day, in Venice, Italy, Save Venice, a leading American nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the artistic heritage of Venice, ended a Special Weekend in Venice “Celebrating Carpaccio.”

Just hearing about it instantly brought back memories of the two times we’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Venice on one of those “long weekends.”

If you’ve been, you know what I mean when I say that it is a trip to another world. And what is so amazing is that it’s the same world we’re living in. In another age, long ago, Venice was the center of what today we would call business and the financials. It was the center of the civilized world.  

From the 9th to the 14th century (at its peak), it was the first international financial center. Bankers. It was a city of wealth and inhabited by rich people who built palaces for themselves all along the canals that are — or at least were — the main thoroughfare for getting around the city.

If you’ve been to Venice you know all this. But if you haven’t, when visiting Venice you see, and you learn. This magnificent architectural treasure of private and public buildings from seven centuries ago, on the water as it were, and still occupied and in use, astounds and feeds your imagination of the life therein.

You’re present in this masterpiece of human endeavor before it lost it way in a power machine. Being present, your imagination can take over the child in you. And yet, you’re in the 21st century world also integrated easily and naturally aware. It’s a wonder to experience and for many it’s a haven, no matter how brief, from the 21st century PSYOP.

Meanwhile, back to the Save Venice weekend.  The focus for the guests was the international exhibition Vittore Carpaccio: Dipinti e Disegni at the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), and Save Venice’s long history of restoring works of art by the Renaissance painter. 

It became the impetus to lure supporters to the unique fundraiser, Celebrating Carpaccio: A Special Weekend in Venice.

The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel, was the weekend’s Corporate Sponsor, and Prof. Patricia Fortini Brown was the honoree. Professor Brown is a Save Venice Board member and preeminent Carpaccio scholar. Her landmark book on Venetian narrative painting transformed one’s understanding of Carpaccio and his contemporaries.

Participants in this weekend event were immersed in Carpaccio’s art, life in Renaissance Venice, artisanal traditions, and art conservation through interactive workshops, lectures, collection tours, and restoration visits, and wined and dined in some of Venice’s most prestigious sites, including Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, Palazzo Contarini Polignac, and the Sovrano Ordine Militare di Malta.

Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti.
Melissa Conn welcomes guests at Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti.

The program began with a hands-on workshop at the Istituto Veneto per i Beni Culturali (IVBC) restoration school. Guests tried techniques including pictorial integrations, gilding, drawing, and analysing pigment samples and hosts John Wilson and Annasue McCleave Wilson sponsored the experience. 

Conservation workshop at IVBC restoration school.

Following a lecture by Save Venice Chairman Frederick Ilchman in the church of San Vidal, Save Venice Board Member Francesca Bortolotto Possati welcomed everyone for a reception in her home on the Grand Canal, Palazzo Mocenigo Nero.

Frederick Ilchman delivers the welcome lecture at the church of San Vidal.
Frederick Ilchman, Amy Gross, and Tia Chapman.
John Leopoldo Fiorilla, Francesca Bortolotto Possati, and Melissa Conn.
Cassandra Ilchman, Christiane Eichstaedt, and Vicki Vinson Cantwell.

The second day began with a lecture on “Venice in the Age of Carpaccio” by Save Venice Research Associate Gabriele Matino and historian Matteo Casini, and continued with tours focused on Renaissance art and artisanal traditions.

That evening guests were treated to a private after-hours tour of the Carpaccio exhibition at Palazzo Ducale, followed by cocktails in the loggia overlooking Piazza San Marco and dinner in the courtyard.

Exclusive private visit to Vittore Carpaccio: Dipinti e Disegni at the Palazzo Ducale.
Nicolò Favaretto Rubelli leads a visit at the Rubelli Showroom and Archives.
Paolo Roma, Mike Minieka, and Joe Rubinelli.
Penelope Seidler, Merril Sheilds, Davide Gasparotto, Leroy Sharer, Patricia Jay, Dick Jay, and Tito Ferguson at Rubelli.
Cocktails in the loggia at Palazzo Ducale overlooking Piazza San Marco.
L. to r.: Karyn Pigford; Tito Ferguson and Merrill Shields.
Patricia and Bob Lovejoy.
L. to r.: Angela Page and Catherine Clark; Christopher Apostle and Kimberly Manjarres.
Laura Hodgson, Dean Smith, Pearl Wou, and Andrew Jones.
Dinner in the courtyard at Palazzo Ducale.
Atmosphere at Palazzo Ducale.

The true highlight of the weekend was the keynote lecture by Prof. Patricia Fortini Brown. After her lecture, Save Venice Vice President Alberto Nardi surprised her with a custom-designed brooch by Gioielleria Nardi featuring an engraving of Carpaccio’s painting of The Lion of Saint Mark.

Carpaccio honoree Prof. Patricia Fortini Brown and Alberto Nardi.
Pin custom-designed by Gioielleria Nardi.
Carpaccio honoree Prof. Patricia Fortini Brown.

Guests also enjoyed a private visit to view Carpaccio’s narrative painting cycle in the Scuola Dalmata and the restoration underway, funded by Save Venice and in honor of Prof. Fortini Brown, a luncheon in the cloister of the Sovrano Ordine Militare di Malta and an intimate dinner in Palazzo Contarini Polignac.

Conservator Valentina Piovan at the Scuola Dalmata di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni.
Bob Lovejoy leads a toast to Prof. Patricia Fortini Brown at the Sovrano Ordine Militare di Malta.
Dinner in Palazzo Contarini Polignac.

The weekend would not have been possible without its Benefactor Chairs Francesca Bortolotto Possati, Christopher Todd Page, Merrill Shields, and John and Annasue Wilson, as well as The Gritti Palace, Alberto Nardi, the scholars and conservators who shared their expertise, and the guests whose participation provided important support to preserve the artistic heritage of Venice.

Prior to the fundraising events, the Save Venice Board of Directors held their annual Venice meeting and approved funding for new projects on the island of Torcello and in the Accademia Galleries, the church of Santa Maria dei Frari, and Venice’s Music Conservatory in Palazzo Pisani in collaboration with the IVBC restoration school. In addition, the inauguration of the restoration of the Sinagoga Italiana, one of the synagogues in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, recently conserved thanks to the generosity of Save Venice donors.

Gabriele Matino leads a tour at the Gallerie dell Accademia.
Tour of conservation work underway at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Palazzo Pisani.
Leroy Sharer and Tina Walls.
Verona Wilson, Annasue McCleave Wilson, and John Wilson III.
Anna McCleave Wilson, Christiane Eichstaedt, Cassandra Ilchman, Pat Lovejoy, Veronica Wilson, and Michelle Levbarg-Klein Rayden.
Vicki Vinson Cantwell, Cassandra Ilchman, Christiane Eichstaedt, Kimberly Manjarres, and Veronica Wilson.
Jill Armstrong, Laura Hodson, Andrew Jones, Tracy Cooper, Mike Minieka, and Patricia Olsen.
Patricia Jay, Sarah Blake McHam, and Alberto and Marta Nardi.
Tina Walls, Tia Chapman, Andrew Jones, and Laura Hodgson.
Veronica Wilson, with Noreen and David Mulliken.

Photographs by Matteo De Fina.

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