Background and History

Claude Monet

Claude Monet: Palazzo Contarini (1908)

The early-Renaissance palace was probably built in the second half of the 15th century.

The POINTS of contact Meeting Point in Venice was based at Palazzo Loredan dell’Ambasciatore for a couple of years. Two years ago it was time to go one step further on the Grand Canal and get to know the historic Palazzo Contarini Polignac. The palaces of Venice are full of secrets, stories and eccentric inhabitants. The illusion, the last five hundred years had passed Venice palaces almost without trace, can be seen in the Palazzo Contarini Polignac – formerly Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo – at its best.

The marble palazzo is still owned by the family and is only accessible for “outsiders” since two years. Get to know the venerable place and the adjacent gardens! The spacious and lush garden from the 17th century by Francesco Guardi is one of the few in whole Venice, facing directly the Grand Canal.

1943 was to be read in the Figaro: „You can not write cultural history of the 20th century without mentioning the salon on the Avenue Henri Martin and the Palazzo on the Grand Canal.“

Winaretta Singer self-portrait

Winaretta Singer self-portrait

Behind this stands the music, art and culture loving owner Winnaretta Singer, wife of the French composer Prince Edmond Melchior Jean Marie de Polignac. Winnaretta invited many of the most famous composers, musicians, artists and writers of her time for a salon in the palace, which was becoming the meeting point of the avant-garde. Igor Stravinsky, Ethel Smyth, Ezra Pound, Reynaldo Hahn, Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel and many more came here.

In 1908 Claude Monet created one of his most important works with a picture of the Palazzo Contarini Polignac (art museum St. Gallen). He has captured the famous Venetian haze perfectly, overlying the architectural splendor of the Venetian palazzo and its diluted reflection in the Canal. The mysterious atmosphere does not give an idea about the hustle and pleasure inside. Still today the Palazzo is often frequented by the who is who of design, art and culture. For example in 2007, Zaha Hadid and Karl Lagerfeld introduced their project „MOBILE ART Chanel Contemporary Art Pavillion“ at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac.