Today all the magical scenery enclosed in the fascinating late Gothic palace in bloom that a tremendous high water had heavily damaged the ground floor in November 2019, is restored to his memory and to the city. Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei in Campo San Beneto in Venice which, from 1898 to 1949, was the residence, factory and atelier of Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo ( 1871-1949), the Spanish creative painter, set designer, stylist, photographer, engraver, designer and brilliant experimenter at the same time, becomes a permanent museum open to the public.
As evidence of an existence lived laboriously for art and with art. In this place that was the cosmopolitan crossroads of the European cultural elite, Mariano Fortuny in fact put all his talent at the service of an early modernity, as the spokesperson of an enlightened family business founded on craftsmanship excellence, together to Henriette Negrin, wife, partner and muse.
She who, in 1958, entrusted the extraordinary legacy of Mariano to the city of Venice with his famous design inventions. Including the first plaster model of the theatrical device called 'Cupola' that Fortuny conceived and built to bring indirect and diffused light to theaters all over Europe; including Delphos, the deconstructed silk dress, a monochromatic tunic with very fine pleating, born from an idea of Henriette and inspired by Hellenistic statuary. Including its original hanging lamps inspired by the planets and the sophisticated motifs printed on cottons and velvets for home décor.
But, for the first time, over 90% of the materials attributable to the world of Mariano Fortuny owned by the Venetian civic collections or kept on loan, are exhibited all together, accessible to visitors and schools.
The substantial restoration and restoration work on the Palazzo was supervised by the Municipality of Venice and by the Technical and Maintenance Office of Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia chaired by Mariacristina Gribaudi, thanks to the important contribution provided by the brand leader PAM Panorama. The Portego which is accessed from Campo San Beneto, with its ancient fourteenth-century brickwork, has been reorganized to accommodate the public, the bookshop and temporary exhibitions dedicated to the contemporary world - an opportunity to present the donation received by the MUVE of Venice of a group of works by leading American artists from the Panza di Biumo Collection.
The rooms of the noble floors, the first and second, which housed the house and the ateliers in which Fortuny lived, have also become the subject of a philological museographic project that allows us to grasp the presences and combinations expertly considered, tastes, relationships and references between characters, arts and knowledge of the time.
The exhibition and rearrangement was curated by Maestro Pier Luigi Pizzi, renowned director and set designer with Gabriella Belli and Chiara Squarcina from Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the support of the architect Massimo Gasparon for the lighting choices.
"Bringing back the natural light and the eclectic spirit of Mariano's work in a lively and changing atmosphere of the space was the most exciting but also the most complex challenge of the project", explained Pier Luigi Lace. "Extraordinary but also complex was also entering the many lives that Mariano Fortuny interpreted in the vision of a total work of art", declared the director of MUVE Gabriella Belli.
The upper floors of the House-Museum are accessed via a traditional small wooden staircase located next to the main entrance, in the atrium. Thus you reach the first mezzanine and from there the long Portego of the first noble floor, the hall more than 42 square meters long on the short sides marked by two wonderful multi-light windows, respectively overlooking Campo San Beneto and rio Michiel.
At the center of the hall, the mise-en-scene of the funeral apparatus of the fourteenth Duke of Lerma printed in matrix on black velvet, introduces the theme of the costumes made by Fortuny, among others, for Otello by Giuseppe Verdi and for the premiere of Tristano and Isotta at the Scala in Milan.
Along the walls are lined sofas covered with cushions lined in well-known fabrics and crossing the 'living room' towards Rio Michiel, you reach the four side rooms of the building.
In the corner room the Painting Atelier of Fortuny was reconstructed, his workplace, including easels, palette and colors, the latter patented in Paris in 1933. The garden of winter, which faces the opposite side of the Atelier, instead returns the summa of the artist's mature painting: an immersion in his imaginary animated by allegorical figures, satyrs and exotic animals, declined in a wall cycle of approximately 140 square meters, supported by the artifice of trompe-l'oeil and by a harmonious application of colors, which gives the space a profound luminosity.
For this compositional party, ennobled by garlands and drapes, which covers three sides of the room, Fortuny invented a special paper frame glued on painted hemp sheets and fixed to the walls. In the second part of the room, the model of the Teatro delle Feste designed in 1910 in collaboration with Gabriele d'Annunzio and the French architect Lucien Hesse offers a synthesis of his theatrical poetics.
The Collectibles Room is reserved for the important collections of the Fortuny family - fabrics, tapestries, carpets, glass, pottery, majolica, weapons and armor, statues, furniture, engravings by Goya, Tiepolo, Piranesi, the works of father painter Mariano Fortuny Y Marsal - each in its own way relevant in the understanding of humus that influenced the artist's creativity, like the myths of the Wagnerian cycle.
Finally, the stage of the Fashion room is dedicated to the splendid silk pleated dresses or characterized by motifs printed on velvet and cotton, made with the two printing techniques patented in 1909.
The rhythm changes register on the second floor. Here the more intimate narrative focuses on the suggestions of the precious library and study of Mariano Fortuny: the furniture he designed, the covered filing cabinets, the most personal memories. We are behind the scenes of his creations that open the curtain on the rooms reserved for laboratories and ateliers, where among presses, engraving and work tools, documents, nude portraits, a thousand other echoes of culture classical and oriental influences thunder in the air.