Celebrations in Venice !

Cultural events | Museums | Exhibitions
Venice invited at the Musée Cognacq-Jay by Esprit de France
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Venice invited at the Musée Cognacq-Jay 

In 1797, after more than a thousand years of existence, the Republic of Venice abdicates at the hands of Bonaparte’s French troops and definitively loses its independence. Its last century of existence is nonetheless something of an apotheosis. Foreigners from all over Europe, as reported by the diaries or letters of travellers and ambassadors, come to enjoy the public as well as the private merrymaking which occupy three quarters of the year: the theatrical season in the autumn, the carnival which begins on the day after Christmas and lasts for many weeks, to be repeated in another way towards the Ascension Day, at the time of the grandiose celebration of the Sensa for the ritual wedding of Venice with the sea. It is only during Lent or in the summer, when the rich families of the city are used to going on holiday in their properties of the Terra ferma (the Veneto land opposite that of the lagoon), that the inhabitants can be seen without a mask to go to some private concert or simply to merge into the popular jubilation of a regatta on the Grand Canal. The Cognacq-Jay Museum, whose collections are dedicated to the 18th century, naturally pays tribute to the swansong of Venice at that time, documenting all aspects of this permanent festive atmosphere.

Thus, in the heart of the Serenissima, small private establishments dedicated to gambling, music and dance (such as the Furlana described by Casanova) multiply, as well as fairground barracks where passers-by are attracted by performances of Commedia dell'Arte or by exhibitions of exotic animals; eight public theaters all open at the same time during the season, program comedies written by Goldoni or opera seria of which the famous castrato Farinelli is often the star; in addition, naval parades on the Grand Canal punctuated by floating architectures as sumptuous as ephemeral, are organized for the arrival of any distinguished visitor while Saint Mark's Square is transformed, thanks to wooden stands and lodges, into a large theatrical stage to celebrate any exceptional event.

Besides the charming genre paintings by Pietro Longhi and the architectural “whims” of Francesco Guardi, we have particularly appreciated the carnival costumes recreated by the Fabrique de la Goutte d'Or: they show the three essential parts of the Bauta: A cape covering the shoulders (Tabarro), a tricorn and a white mask (Volto) and we are even offered to drape ourselves with them to make some selfies!

Venise en fête au Musée Cognacq-Jay par Esprit de France