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Unfinished Palazzo : The Story of Three Women Who Seduced and Beguiled Venice—luisa Casati, Doris

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Judith Mackrell brings to life the history of Venice’s mysterious and idiosyncratic Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, “the Unfinished Palazzo,” through the lives of three of its most eccentric, passionate, and rule-breaking residents—Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim.

Venice, 1750: The powerful Venier family commissions a beautiful palazzo on the Grand Canal, one they intend to cast a shadow on every other domestic building on its stretch of the canal. Yet the Republic of Venice—and the Venier family’s fortune—began to wane and the project was abandoned, with only one story completed.

Luisa Casati. Doris Castlerosse. Peggy Guggenheim. These three women  inhabited the Palazzo at different periods, from the start of the twentieth century to the 1960s. Each came from a different country—an Italian, a Brit, and an American—but they had a surprising amount in common, above and beyond their ownership of the same extraordinary building. Amongst other things, all of them had scandalous lives, a passionate interest in art (although in the case of Luisa Casati, the subject had almost invariably to be herself), a fascination with sex, and a deep love of Venice. And, all surrounded themselves with and amazing supporting cast at so many glamorous parties, from D’Annunzio and Nijinsky, via Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton, to Yoko Ono amongst the Picassos.

Mackrell weaves an intricate history of the Unfinished Palazzo, bringing it—and its legendary inhabitants—to life.

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