Sunday, August 25, 2013

Robert Browning, Cole Porter, and John Singer Sargent

What would Robert Browning and Cole Porter and John Singer Sargent have in common, especially in the city of Venice?  

Ca' Rezzonico!

There is a palace (palazzo) along the Grand Canal that I only captured in a vaporetto-drive-by- shooting.  The vaporetti are water taxis that take you about at a reasonable price and quickly.  So we took advantage of them as often as possible just to soak in the atmosphere.

But back to my talented writers/artists.

Ca' Rezzonico was built in the mid-1700's and passed from one owner to another until the early 1800's when a certain Count Zelinsky bought the palazzo, breaking it up into apartments and renting it out to aristocratic tenants.

Robert Barrett Browning, the artist, lived at Ca' Rezzonico in the 1880's and his father Robert Browning, the writer, came to live with him, later dying there in 1889.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp.
Or what's a heaven for?"
- Robert Browning

John Singer Sargent, the American portraitist, had his studio in the palazzo at this same time.


("The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" by J.S.S.)

Now some years later, in the 1920's, after having received an inheritance from his wealthy grandfather, Cole Porter rented the palazzo for $4000. a month (about $54,000. in today's currency).  He gave lavish parties at this address.

The following clip is from the movie "De-Lovely" about the life and love of Cole Porter.  It is a complicated but moving and loving tale. The song starts slowly but stay with it and you will be rewarded.

So next time you are wending your way down the Grand Canal keep a look out for Ca' Rezzonico, on the right hand side if you are coming from the train station to San Marco Piazza...

(file photo from Wikipedia)

and think of the talented people who have lived in just this one tiny spot on our beautiful planet and have contributed such beauty to our lives.


Be well.


  1. What a lovely blog post... and the song is very special.

    I too am so in love with you... tip I die!

  2. Oooops. That is what happens when I don't "preview" before hitting "Publish."

    That damn spell check automatically changed til to tip because I didn't have an apostrophe in front of it.

    I too am so in love with you... 'til I die!

  3. Great post -- this was my cue to read a little about Sargent. Certainly a character .

    This apartment building reminded me of a book my writing teacher was working on at Oregon. Turns out it just published -- The Tenants Of The Hotel Biron. I should probably check it out, but I remember Laura talking about it 20+ years ago and even though Picasso and Nijinsky and Rilke and all kinds of other characters lived in that hotel, I think it was mostly about Camille Cluadel, the wife? of Rodin.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement... It was great fun to read about this palace. The book you mention in your comments sounds very interesting. And what a great idea for a book.

      I have read about Camille Claudel before but not sure she ever became the wife of Rodin. Seems to have led a life of strong passions and great sorrows...I will read about her again.

      Thanks Son.

    2. Oh yes, Sargent was a rather extraordinary fellow too. His artwork is very admirable but he was known for his enthusiastic 'partying' too. Wild people...

  4. I like the way you say, "The next time you are wending your way down the Grand Canal..." Ha! I will definitely remember that the *next* time I am doing that!!

  5. Venice is truly from another planet... it is like nothing I have seen before and even though I was sometimes overwhelmed with all the water all around me, all the time, right outside my window, I miss the easy flow of that town. When I look back at the photos I find so many favourites.

    You will notice I haven't blogged much about Venice yet... have to do it in bits and pieces.

    Thanks for stopping by.