Just before Christmas I received an e-mail via a French arts website from my friend Sybil in Geneva. The link provided was for an exhibition at Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal: Splendore a Venezia. I had to admit ignorance of the event but it contained that magic word: Venezia! I am sure I've made it apparent on at the least one occasion here that Venice is a city I adore and the offer of a multidisciplinary exhibition so close to home that combined the art and the music of Venice from the Renaissance to the Baroque - well what more could a Venitiaphile (is that a word?) ask for?They gave the city the name Venetia as if to say Veni etiam – Come again!
Francesco SansovinoCitta Noblisissima et Singolare - 1581
|The rich silk, linen and lead robes and stole of a Procurator and a Corno Ducale (Doge's crown) were the first, but far from the last, splendours that greeted the viewer. Not visible in this photo but behind the ducal finery was Titan's portrait of a sickly Doge Francesco Venier weighed down by the elaborate robes of state.|
On Boxing Day we celebrated Linda and Yves' recent marriage with a celebratory champagne lunch at the Sofitel. Afterwards it was a short walk over to the Beaux-Arts to take in the Venetian splendors - and splendors there were. Even though it was late afternoon the crowds were still fairly heavy but we were able to take in a goodly portion of this marvelous show. Paintings, clothing, musical instruments, incunabula, manuscripts, bronzes and artifacts trace 300 years of the musical and cultural history of the great Republic Sixty-one collections from nine countries were combed for remarkable - and in many cases seldom seen - examples of the magnificence that was La Serenissima until its dissolution by
|Splendore a Venezia: Exhibition curator Dr Hillaird T. Goldfarb with a few of the wonderful treasures tracing the connections between music and art from the Renaissance to the Baroque in La Serenissima. A right click on each of the paintings will give you a closer look at each one.|
|Anton Maria Zanetti's caricature of Antonio Maria Bernacchi |
captures the good and the bad of the great male soprano.
His voice had incredible power and beauty but Mary Grenville
observed: his person not so good, for he is as big as a Spanish friar.
Dr Goldfarb also suggested that if I visited the show again that he would be pleased to say hello. So visit it again I did. My neighbour Cathy and I headed down to Montreal on the morning train last Thursday. Having forgotten how icy that wind can be as it comes cutting down from the mountain I decided to walk over to the Museum from Central Station. You'd think five years of living at Peel and Sherbrooke would have taught me better! I arrived at the Musée frozen but the appearance of my dear Christine, who I hadn't seen since we left Roma, soon warmed me up. That and a glass of pinot grigio at our reunion celebration lunch - are we seeing a theme here? The food at the Café des Beaux Arts is remarkably good, varied - I haven't seen, not that I would order it, Blood Pudding on any other menu - and the service very friendly.
|Dale Chihuly's The Sun was part of a larger exhibition |
earlier this year but is now in the Musée's permanent
collection. It was purchased through public donations.
As a sidebar it was interesting to see that through individual donations and public subscription the Musée has acquired Dale Chihuly's The Sun, which had been featured in a major exhibition of his work earlier this year.
Fortunately I was able to spend a bit more time than previously taking in the whole exhibition and particularly the collection of instruments on display: an archlute in kingwood, ivory and ebony made in 1654; a beautiful theorbo in ivory and ebony from the late 1600s; a military drum bearing St Mark's lion along with Turkish instruments captured a war booty but put into ceremonial use; and a sinuous, strange-looking bass cornetto or serpent that certainly lived up to its name. The craftsmanship in the stringed instruments was remarkable - elaborately carved sound holes, detailed scrimshaw and delicate inlay.
|This theorbo was crafted in Venice somewhere between |
1630-1640. The ivory scrimshaw and intricately carved
sound hole make it as beautiful to look at as it is to hear.
|This bass cornett or serpent is curved so the finger |
holes were within reach of the player. It dates
from the 16th c. and is leather covered wood.
|This archlute is a stunning mixture of kingwood, |
ivory, spruce, willow and ebony. Created by
Christoph Koch in 1654, the extended pegboard gives
it a wider bass range than the regular lute.
January 17: 1893: The Citizen's Committee of Public Safety, led by Lorrin A. Thurston, overthrows the government of Queen Liliuokalani of the Kingdom of Hawaii.