Palazzo Volpi in Venice - Artifacts up for Sale by Sotheyby's

Some 200 treasures from Palazzo Volpi are headed to Sotheby's Paris on February 28. The remarkable treasures of the Palazzo Volpi—one of Venice’s most iconic palaces on the Grand Canal—are hitting the auction block. Ranging from ornate Venetian mirrors and an inlaid Japanese-style console to gilded side tables (with winged Venetian lions), some 200 opulent lots of furniture and artwork will be sold in a live auction by Sotheby’s Paris on February 28. Built in the 16th century, the Renaissance palace is said to have been visited by Michelangelo for the express purpose of gaping at its frescoes by Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone, which have since disappeared. The regal palace changed hands several times until it was acquired roughly 400 years later, in 1917, by Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata. It has remained in the Volpi family ever since.

The auction will comprise furniture and works of art from the palace’s piano nobile, the main floor that contains the portego (drawing room), ballroom, and music room. The offerings will include ballroom banquettes, chandeliers, sopraporta (overdoors) in the style of 16th-century sculptor Jacopo Sansovino, and a set of 14 Venetian giltwood chairs. Many of the items were acquired by Count Volpi himself, who found his fame and fortune as a politician, diplomat, and industrialist in the early 20th century. His crowning achievement, however, was founding the Venice Film Festival (La Mostra) in 1932, the world’s first such film showcase and still among its most prestigious. Today, the palazzo is owned by Giuseppe’s son, Giovanni, former car-racing manager and Formula One team owner, although the family no longer lives in the space. 

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