Saturday, October 15, 2011

Villas of the Veneto: Villa Cordellina Lombardi (Montecchio Maggiore)

Villa Cordellina Lombardi in Montecchio Maggiore is possibly one of the most elegant villas in the Vicenza area, an obviously baroque homage to Palladio's neoclassicism, introduced a little more than two hundred years before this villa's construction.  It has all of Palladio's symmetry, if not Palladio's concern for the totality of the building.  (The back and sides are a little ho-hum.)  However, just like Villa Valmarana ai Nani, the architecture is not the highlight of this villa, but the colorful, swirling frescoes by Tiepolo to be found inside.  

Although not as light and airy as Tiepolo's mythical figures in Villa Valmarana ai Nani, these frescoes compensate for their monumentality.  The main hall is decorated with Intelligence triumphing over Ignorance; the defeat of Hannibal; and the victory of Alexander the Great.  The weighty themes of the great hall is depicted with colors and fabrics that have as much gravity as the story they are trying to tell.  

Everything is absolutely beautiful, but there is something almost desperate about the building.  A temple-like facade leading to great hall decorated with the most legendary military victories in history...all for a residential building.    Carlo Cordellina, the building's original owner, was a well-known and well-respected trial jurist in Venice, slight in composure but talented in consensus-building and a great orator.  His villa was to host many royalties and noblemen of his time, and I am guessing he needed a work of art to drive home the ideas he felt should be associated with him.  Much like with any great work produced during the Renaissance, the expression of great talent and skill was made most possible by the giant egos which needed nothing short of masters to manifest their self-aggrandizement.   

Nevertheless, the building is beautiful, but one of the best features of the villa is the use of Murano chandeliers throughout the building.  Colorful, beautiful, and definitely impactful, the transluscent glass still created magnificent effect despite not having their candles lit, with the sunlight producing twinkling reflections as it hit the smooth Murano glass.  

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