Miranda Seymour

Palazzo Non Finito

The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

By

Thames & Hudson 408pp £19.95 order from our bookshop

Back in 1749, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was intended to be among the grandest in Venice: a five-storey masterpiece of show-off architecture that would dominate its stolid neighbours and overshadow even the mighty Ca’ Grande, home of the haughty Corner family, on the other side of the Grand Canal. Alas, twenty years later, construction of the ambitious palazzo had progressed no further than a single storey.

By 1910, the palazzo non finito – as it was fondly known to its eventual saviour, Peggy Guggenheim – had become a wreck. Semi-roofless and festooned with ivy creepers, the building nevertheless bewitched Marchesa Luisa Casati, one of the early 20th century’s most mesmerising eccentrics. What could possibly offer a better stage for a woman who viewed the world as her audience than a palace perched upon the banks of the Grand Canal, Europe’s most theatrical waterway?

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,