Palazzo Pesaro was begun by Baldassarre Longhena (1598-1682) in the 1650s and completed by Antonio Gaspari in 1710. It was commissioned by the important noble family of the Pesaro and is one of the most imposing palaces facing Venice’s Grand Canal. The drawing depicts the three-leveled façade of the palace with a plan below. The first level is a rusticated base surmounted by the cornice of a Corinthian entablature. It has a flight of stairs leading up to two arched openings at the center with windows framed by half columns and pilasters left and right. The second level is composed of an order of free-standing Ionic columns on pedestals with contracted serlianas in the manner of Sansovino. The seven-bay elevation is divided in three parts by four paired columns and surmounted by an entablature of the Ionic order. The third level is a replica of the second level with columns of the Composite order. This level is surmounted by a tall entablature with volute brackets and bas-reliefs inserted in the frieze.The drawing belongs to a set of 66 measured drawings of Italian Renaissance and Ancient Roman architecture which the V&A purchased from Edwin Parsons in 1886. The Parsons set may belong to a larger series of over 700 architectural drawings scattered in English and international collections formerly owned by the British Consul at Venice, Joseph Smith (1682-1770). A proponent of Palladian architecture, Smith began collecting measured drawings of classical and Renaissance architecture from the early 1740s. Today, most of this material exists in a series of bound volumes at the Royal Collection (where the Admiranda Artis Architecturae Varia is kept) and at the British Library (which holds the three-volume Admiranda Urbis Venetae), as well as in loose sheets scattered in collections across Europe and North America including the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The author of these drawings is unknown. However, their style and subject matter suggests the involvement of the Venetian architect, painter, engraver and theorist Antonio Visentini (1688-1782). A member of the Venetian Academy since its foundation in 1755, Visentini was affiliated with Smith and executed a vast number of architectural drawings for the British Consul as well as for a broader British collector base. Most of these drawings are scaled in English feet and consist of simplified plans and elevations of exemplary Italian architecture. Often produced as a series, the drawings were purchased by British Gentlemen to be included in their libraries and collections. The present drawing forms part of this material. The drawing is not signed by Visentini, but may have been produced by one of Visentini’s workshop members or pupils or by an unknown draughtsman working in the style of Visentini.
MEDIUM: Pencil, pen and ink with grey wash on paper