The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice : the Stories of Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim

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Thames & Hudson, 2017 - Art - 408 pages
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The Unfinished Palazzo tells the stories of notoriously eccentric women: the Marchesa Luisa Casati, from Milan, a champion exhibitionist who considered her life (and especially her person) to be a work of art; Doris, Lady Castlerosse, an Englishwoman whose lovers included both Winston Churchill and his son, Randolph; and finally [Peggy] Guggenheim, the American art patron who bequeathed the mansion to her family's foundation as a museum of modern art. ... Their life stories are flashy, a kaleidoscope of bad marriages, bad divorces, Fortuny dresses, outlandish costume parties, fashionable portraits, excessive champagne, famous lovers, pickup lovers, alienated children and overlapping celebrity acquaintances. ... In more enlightened times these women might have had solid accomplishments...but Mackrell's documentation of their relentless self-absorption and unfiltered vanity argues against it. The New York Times Book Review

Skillfully weaves historical details into absorbing biographical profiles while also capturing the charm of Venice... Mackrell explores [the] eventful lives [of] three remarkable women [who] differed in many ways, but points out their similarities in motivation, independence, daring unconventionality, and historic roles in Venice and social culture. Her astute commentary is particularly illuminating, enlarging the reader's understanding of these individuals and the larger framework of their worlds. Well-chosen photographs and comprehensive notes and bibliography enhance the volume. Library Journal

Thoughtful, gracefully written and engaging... Like Paris, Venice is a subject rife with cliché. Ms. Mackrell sidesteps this pitfall by focusing on one tiny part of the city. By book's end, the complexly fated, much-altered Venier comes to seem a mirror of its occupants. Self-realization is often bound up with real estate, and rarely more so than at the palazzo non finito. The Wall S.

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About the author (2017)

Judith Mackrell is a dance critic and author.

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