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Girolamo Frigimelica (architect) and Giovanni Gloria and/or Sante Benato (model makers), Model for the Villa Pisani, Stra, c. 1716, Musei Civici Veneziani, Museo Correr, Venice


site photograph

The Villa Pisani at Stra near Venice was the country residence of one of the most powerful families of northern Italy and one of the many villas built in the region. Positioned on the banks of the Brenta River, and surrounded by extensive gardens, it was intended as a place of leisure, where the owner could escape from the heat and humidity of the Venetian lagoon during the hottest weeks of summer. The Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni described the glories of such villas: "Few are the foreigners, even those from far away, who do not know the Brenta [River]... along whose banks stand so many palaces, gardens, and weekend retreats that one could never ask for anything more magnificent or delectable. Everyone rushes there, at different times, to the amusement of the countryside."

This model of about 1716, represents a design by Girolamo Frigimelica, a nobleman from Padua. His plan for the Villa Pisani is eclectic, and illustrates a north Italian preference for open, colonnaded structures. Equipped with metal handles, each level of the model can be lifted to show the organization of the interior spaces. Despite the refinement of the model, however, Alvise Pisani rejected Frigimelica's proposal, and opted for the more monumental and restrained design of Francesco Maria Preti, completed 1756.

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