The Unfinished Palazzo

The Unfinished Palazzo : Life, Love and Art in Venice

3.94 (267 ratings by Goodreads)
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Commissioned in 1750, the Palazzo Venier was planned as a testimony to the power and wealth of a great Venetian family, but the fortunes of the Venier family waned and the project was abandoned with only one storey complete. Empty, unfinished, and in a gradual state of decay, the building was considered an eyesore. Yet in the early 20th century the Unfinished Palazzo's quality of fairytale abandonment, and its potential for transformation, were to attract and inspire three fascinating women at key moments in their lives: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim. Each chose the Palazzo Venier as the stage on which to build her own world of art and imagination, surrounded by an amazing supporting cast, from d'Annunzio and Nijinsky, via Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton, to Yoko Ono. Luisa turned her home into an aesthete's fantasy where she hosted parties as extravagant and decadent as Renaissance court operas - spending small fortunes on her own costumes in her quest to become a `living work of art' and muse to the artists of the late belle epoque and early modernist eras. Doris strove to make her mark in London and Venice during the glamorous, hedonistic interwar years, hosting film stars and royalty at glittering parties. In the postwar years, Peggy turned the Palazzo into a model of modernist simplicity that served as a home for her exquisite collection of modern art that today draws tourists and art-lovers from around the world. Mackrell tells each life story vividly in turn, weaving an intricate history of these legendary characters and the Unfinished Palazzo that they all at different times called home.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 43.18mm | 790g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 68 Illustrations, black and white; 1 Illustrations, color
  • 0500518661
  • 9780500518663
  • 27,679

Review quote

'Gossipy, revealing, terrifically entertaining ... a Netflix series just waiting to be made' - Herald Scotland 'A breathtaking social portrait, peeling the glitter from privileged lives even as it fleshes out the spectacle they created' - Washington Post 'Very clever and entertaining ... Mackrell recounts the lives of three wildly ambitious yet vulnerable women with page-turning pace and intelligence' - Spectator 'Admirable' - Times Literary Supplement 'An ambitious epic ... Mackrell treats her intrinsically sensational material with elegant restraint and wit. Her writing is sharp and unflinching ... A rich, exhilarating read' - Sydney Morning Herald 'Effortlessly evoking the spirits of three extraordinary women, [Mackrell] also captures the magical atmosphere of the house and city they each called home' - Country Life 'Well researched, gloriously gossipy, a delightful, colourful story of reinvention and rebellion' - Observer 'I gorged on the decadence and drama' - Daily Telegraph 'The best gallimaufry of gossip and scandal I have read in years' - Lynn Barber, Sunday Times 'Captivating, vivid and exquisitely gossipy ... Stylish, sparky and packed with spicy anecdotes ... my favourite kind of social history' - Literary Review 'Rip-roaringly entertaining stories of three fascinating women' - The Times
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About Judith Mackrell

Judith Mackrell is the Guardian's dance critic and a successful author of biographical non-fiction titles, including Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes,which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award, and Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation, which combines the biographies of six women whose lives together encapsulated the history of the flapper era.
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Rating details

267 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 30% (80)
4 40% (108)
3 24% (63)
2 6% (15)
1 0% (1)
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