BY MARY HILLIARD
In early October, a delegation of Chicagoans, led by Save Venice Foundation President Richard Almeida and his wife, Jill, traveled to Venice to join more than 120 art enthusiasts from around the world to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Venetian artist Jacopo Tintoretto (c.1518/19–1594).
Tintoretto lived and worked in Venice his entire life, so his work is spread over the whole city in museums and churches, as well as in exhibits specially mounted for this occasion, including 18 dynamic works restored by Save Venice.
The three-day event, themed A Celebration of Renaissance Art and Human Creativity, was a feast for the eyes and mind, with daytime programming featuring the prolific artist’s most impressive works, including Il giovane Tintoretto at the Gallerie dell’Accademia; Tintoretto 1519–1594 at the Palazzo Ducale; and Art, Faith, and Medicine in Tintoretto’s Venice at the Scuola Grande di San Marco. Frederick Ilchmann, Save Venice’s Chairman and a 16th-century Venetian art expert, along with eight respected art historians, charmed and enlightened guests with talks and commentary during these private viewings.
As if these exclusive experiences were not enough, guests were treated to sumptuous dinners in glorious rooms like the Napoleonic Ballroom at the Museo Correr, the Palazzo Contarini Polignac, and the Sala Capitolare in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, where a troupe of actors in exquisite period dress performed a vignette in which “Tintoretto” handed over a golden chain to celebrated contemporary artist Jorge R. Pombo, pronouncing him “tomorrow’s Tintoretto.”
One afternoon a fleet of boats took the group to the island of Mazzorbo to visit the vineyard where “the Golden Grape of the Doges” is produced. A wine tasting was followed by a lunch of local fish and produce served at Michelin-starred restaurant Venissa.
Another highlight of the programming was a Renaissance Artist at Work seminar where would-be Tintorettos learned about 16th-century pigments and mixing colors, witnessed technical demonstrations, and then tried to make their own chalk drawings—most emerged with a new respect for artists of all stripes.
After the Venice activities were complete, a smaller group traveled to the Veneto with the curators, where the Cipriani Hotel in Asolo was home base for a two-day tour of Palladian palazzi and notable art.
The recent flooding in Venice makes memories of the trip more poignant. As rising tides threaten the Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces imbedded across the city, the Save Venice mission to preserve the artistic heritage of this truly unique place becomes ever more urgent.
Since 1971, Save Venice, a no-profit organization, has funded the restoration of more than 500 artistic, architectural, and culturally significant works. To learn more about upcoming activities, including lectures, travel opportunities, and the annual Un Ballo in Maschera in New York, please visit savevenice.org.
Photos by Mary Hilliard, unless otherwise noted.