The Grand Tour in Venice - Page 155

There are a few shops and small
manufacturing outlets in Venice where we can
still get the sense of what it must have been like
to go on a shopping expedition in the heyday
of the Grand Tour. The historic weaving
factory Tessitura Bevilacqua in the Santa
Croce district, (fig. 107) with its velvets, wooden
looms and multicoloured fabrics, has changed
very little since the eighteenth century, while
hidden in a little street in the Cannaregio
district, lies one of Venice’s best-kept secrets
– the Angelo Orsoni workshop (fig. 108)
which has been producing precious glass and
gold mosaics since 1888. The museum of
eighteenth-century life at the Ca’ Rezzonico
also houses a perfectly preserved pharmacy.
Another typically Venetian type of shop are
those selling Carnival masks which are as
popular now as they were in the eighteenth
century. In the nineteenth century there was
also a growing interest in buying older things
in the “curiosity shops” such as Carrer’s which
catered for the increasingly antiquarian tastes
of collectors. Effie Ruskin visited one in in
1849, as she described in a letter to her mother:
After we left h om e today we went to Saint Mark
wh ere we found John near th e high Altar stretch ed
all his length on th e ground drawing one of a series
of exquisite Alabaster columns surrounded by an
admiring audience of idlers…
John was not quite ready so Charlotte and I went
to an old curiosity shop wh ere we were buying som e
pieces of point lace which Charlotte was getting
made into a collar and cuffs, and m e a narrow
berth e (a falling collar) about a finger’s length
broad for my velvet dress which I had not th ough t
of buying at all but John was much struck with th e
richness of th e patterns which is particularly fine
and it is so ch eap I did not h esitate a mom ent.
Fig. 107 Tessitura
Bevilacqua, the famous
textile emporium which
has been going for 400
years, Venice, Italy.
Fig. 108 Angelo Orsini,
Shadeboard of Mosaic
Smalti and golds, 1889,
100 x 100 cm, Milan,
Padiglione Italia Expo


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