Palazzo Fortuny, Venice

Gothic palace once owned by Mariano Fortuny, open for exhibitions

Palazzo Fortuny is a Gothic palazzo in the San Marco district of Venice. A fifteenth-century building, it was once the property of the Pesaro family, and is also known as Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei. It’s an imposing building and largely unrestored, its shabbiness giving it a real sense of history. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was the home of Spanish fashion designer Mariano Fortuny, also a photographer, artist and the inventor of a successful method for printing luxurious fabrics.

Although it comes under the umbrella of the Venice Civic Museums, Palazzo Fortuny does not currently have permanent displays, and is open only when a special exhibition is taking place. The two piano nobile floors, with lofty reception rooms, Gothic windows and rooftop views are lovely spaces, decorated with a clutter of Fortuny fabrics, paintings and objets d’art as well as temporary exhibits. You can see the environment in which Fortuny worked as well as admiring the evocative state of the building itself, with its faded fragments of fresco, carved beams, external staircase, loggia and small courtyard.

Mariano Fortuny equipped the palace to be an atelier; employing the large rooms as an exhibition space as well as a workplace, for his varied interests: photography and painting as well as fabrics and fashion. In 1956, a few years after the designer’s death, his widow donated the building to the city of Venice.

There is still a Fortuny factory and showroom on the Giudecca where you can buy incredibly expensive fabrics printed with Fortuny’s special techniques.

Palazzo Fortuny is near the Sant’ Angelo vaporetto stop. It’s rather hard to find, being hidden between the main Rialto – Accademia thoroughfare and the Grand Canal. The front entrance is in Campo San Beneto (or Benedetto), and can be reached by taking a right turn (look out for the small sign) between Campo Manin and Campo Sant’Angelo. Opening times and admission charges depend on the current exhibition; check for discounts (Venice card holders, young people, students etc.) and note that the last admission is usually an hour before closing time.

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On this site

San Marco district

Useful external links

Palazzo Fortuny (Venice Civic Museums)

Fortuny (history and fabrics)