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On the third floor of Ca’ Rezzonico –

where gondoliers slept when the palazzo

was let to the song writer Cole Porter –

is Egidio Martini’s collection

of five centuries of Venetian art.

Three of the floors’ small windows survive,

each an intentional belvedere.

Two view the Grand Canal, the third south west.

The eye follows the perspective below:

a canal and its quay with inevitable

eclectic craft, stone bridges and turisti;

then tenements and the terracotta tiles –

but not the anticipated skyline,

on the mainland, of the Euganean Hills,

distant and pale as if the background to

a nativity or crucifixion

instead seven, multi-storey cruise liners.


On the floor below are the city’s masters:

Canal, Guardi, Longhi, and Tiepolo

whose son’s fresco, Il Mundo Novo, depicts

the backs of a late eighteenth century

Venetian crowd of all clans and classes

queuing to see a huckster’s peep show

of America – the crassness

of the machine observed in profile

only by the artist and his late father.

When the son died La Serenissima

had ended. Bonaparte had arrived.


From the ballroom below there is music.

‘You’re the tops…You’re Napoleon Brandy…

You’re a painting by Botticelli…

You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa…the moon

over Mae West’s shoulder.’




© Copyright David Selzer

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