1111Fondazione Querini Stampalia: The Music Room
Count Giovanni (1799-1869), Querini’s last descendant of the Stampalia branch, left to Venice in 1868 all his possessions; the historical family palace, land, houses, books, paintings, furniture, art objects, coins and prints. With the extinction of the Querini and the subsequent passage to Foundation of all such possessions, a rare example of heritage preservation of a noble and ancient descent family came into being. The Querini family, one of the twelve apostolic families by lineage - the most distinguished founders of the city – was part of the governors, the patricians, in other words those who inherited the power over Venice. In 1310 the participation of Marco Querini to the dramatic events planned by Bajamonte Tiepolo against the then Doge Pietro Gradenigo was a turning point in the family history: the profile of the noble family was forever stained by this upraisal and the family’s descent was banned from the “dogado”, the highest social class who could eventually count the title of Doge for one of its members. In the XIV century Zuanne Querini managed to buy the Astipalea Island in the Aegean Sea and from this feud the Stampalia title derived, title that only in 1808 was used by Alvise Querini at Napoleon’s Court in Milan, so as to distinguish himself from a man with the same name, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Since then, the double family name indicated the family first, then the Foundation. In the second part of the XVIII century the patricians in Venice seemed divided into three “social” strata: the “big” (with enormous economic and political power), the “quarantinotti” (average in terms of economic solidity and power), and the “barnaboti”, yet again poorer although always belonging to the governing body and sitting in the Great Council. The Querini’s of Santa Maria Formosa were amongst the big and most powerful and with the generation which separated from Zuanne Carlo (brother of the famous Cardinal Angelo Maria) became part of the group that, in fact, guided the Serenissima's government. In the XVI century the Querini Stampalia built their family home in Santa Maria Formosa, Venice, where they owned a number of houses since the XIV century. The Palazzo was inspired by the architecture of Mauro Coducci, a Venetian architect who had already designed a number of buildings such as Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, the church of San Zaccaria, the church of San Giovanni Evangelista (Scuola Grande), the church of Santa Maria della Visitazione (Pietà), the church of Santa Maria Formosa. As indicated in the will of its founder, this Palazzo is now a Foundation bearing the same name: on the first floor the Library, which belonged to Count Giovanni, the Museum on the second floor (head quarters of the Patriarch in the first half of the XIX century) and an exhibition area on the third floor.
The Music Room
One of the core art collection at the Foundation is represented by thirty small paintings by Venetian artist Pietro Longhi (Venice, 1701-1786). Fifteen of them were already owned by the family and were mostly commissioned by Andrea Querini, while the other fifteen come from Donà delle Rose. The latter had been bought by a consortium (Cassa di Risparmio of Venice and the Banco San Marco, the Querini Stampalia Foundation, the Veneto Institute for the Sciences, Literature and Arts) who thus managed to avoid dispersion and allowed for their permanent collocation at the Foundation premises. In this room visitors may admire the series "Hunting in the Valley"together with a number of painted scenes of Venetian life where even the most curious aspects are portrayed with infinite grace; teatime chitchats, family intimacies, games and crafts, love tricks, fortune-tellers, magicians, acrobats and astrologists. Around 1765-70 Longhi was commissioned by the Barbarigo family the following paintings: the "Arrival of the lord", the "Preparation of the Rifles", the "Preparation of Munitions", "The Draw of the Hunters, the "Departure for Hunting", the "Post in the Barrel", and the "Counting of the Game". These various life scenes are highly realistically represented: the numerous preparatory sketches, the adherence to real life situations, the scrupulous attention to detail and the techniques he uses make us think that Longo participated to the hunting sessions with his “signore”. One of the most notable works is the "Arrival of the lord": Gregorio Barbarigo, almost fifty, with a detached gaze, an aristocratic posture and clothed as a city dweller, arrives in the valley. The farmers immediately bend on their knees in front of him and kiss a strip of his patrician clothing almost so as to remark the distance between the two social classes. The scene is set at dawn on a cold autumn evening; the landscape is only hinted through the “casone” (the building) on the left and with extraordinary light and colour effects on the lagoon's horizon. No less significant the "Post in the Barrel" with the wild game emphasized, the glimpse on the crouched man – perhaps trying to hide a prey taking advantage of the dim light of the new day indicating the end of the adventure. The marksman enters the barrel and waits for the quarries that, in the meanwhile, are recalled by the ducks positioned by the hunter near the promontory “tombolo”. The "Hunt of the Merganser"iso ne of the most famous paintings by Longhi for both the choosen theme and for the faithful portray of the Veneto lagoon’s landscape. This kind of hunting activity, rather peculiar, was very much loved by the patrician youth and was still practiced in the XVIII century as a skill test. The aristocrat, wearing an elegant hunting outfit with a red jacket, positioned himself at the bow of the “ballottina” and with an arch and a “balotta” in his hand, that is a small terracotta ball he is about to hit the merganser with – out of all birds the most difficult to catch; even when hurt, this bird could swim underwater for a long time. The other scenes he painted are yet again an attentive portrait of life in all its shades; he portrays public housing as much as the patrician living rooms ("Geography Lessons", "The Sagredo Family", "The Michiel Family"), taverns ("Farmers at the Tavern"), gambling houses ("Ridotto") as well as outdoor situations, in the fields, piazze and calli of Venice ("Mondo novo", "Casotto del Leone", "Spinner", "Spinners", "Sleeping lady farmer", "Furlana"). He manages to catch the soul of the protagonists with a sophistication of French inspiration. Longhi, with apparent simplicity, just hints at the landscape while he emphasizes the gestures, the expressions, the manners, attitudes and characters of the protagonists by using a palette whose colours are dense, warm and elegant. We are here on the same wavelength of Carlo Goldoni’s theatrical representations, a dear friend of Longhi; the two, thanks to Andrea Querini, cultivate friendship, studies and playful activities, often at the Palazzo. In the Music Room the visitor will also find the "Saint Anthony’s Temptations" and the"Frateria of Venice": by illustrating the twenty-two religious orders present in Venice in 1761 the latter represents a political manifesto of the time, where the characters are portrayed with a particularly pungent satire. In the Music Room we also find a number of string and wind instruments belonging to the family. Amongst the most interesting ones two violins attributed to the first significant instrument craftman working in Venice, Martinus Kaiser (Füssen, 1642 circa - ?. 1695 circa), believed to be the Maestro of Venetian violin-making, and the two small arches for violin attributed to Carlo Tononi (Bologna, 1625 – Venice, 1730). Tononi used to initial his works with a negative fire stamp (the name appears clear with a burning all around) in two different points: on the strips near the button and, at the bottom, below the knuckle as evidenced on the two arches of this collection. There exist only three arches by Tononi; the third is part of the Albert Cooper collection. Worth of notice also the "ribalta con alzata"(wood and walnut briar-rootband flap), collocated between the windows, dating back to the first half of the XVIII century. It is a prestigious piece of forniture made of two parts separated by golden elements onion-shaped lathed veneered in walnut briar-rootband and embellished by gracious golden finishes that light up the bureau-trumeau’s coat. At reception times this piece of furniture was left open to reveal the collection of little statues in the dedicated compartments, an all-Venetian theatre.
On 26 Agust 1740 Cecilia, senator Andrea’s sister, writes to her attorney father Giovanni: “…I recommend to V.E. my little spinet, if he could possibly fix it; and he would be so kind to send it back to me, with the minuet booklet, so that I will not forget what I have learnt…”.
Translated from Museo Querini Stampalia Venezia, Vianello Libri, 2012 Treviso. Edited by Babet Trevisan, texts by Enrico Zola, Babet Trevisan.