The story of three passionate, unconventional and original 20th-century women and the Venetian Palazzo that they in turn inhabited. Judith Mackrell is the Guardian’s dance critic, and a successful author of non-fiction titles, including Bloomsbury Ballerina and the bestselling Flappers, which combined the biographies of six women whose lives together encapsulated the history of the flapper era.
69 illustrations 23.4 x 15.3 cm 408pp hardback ISBN 978 0 500 518663 April £19.95
The Unfinished Palazzo Life, Love and Art in Venice The Stories of Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim Judith Mackrell 19 Commissioned in 1750, the Palazzo Venier was planned as a testimony to the power and wealth of a great Venetian family, but the project was abandoned with only one storey complete. Empty and decaying, ‘il palazzo non finito’ was an eyesore for over a century until it came to be inhabited by the very different women whose stories are told in this gripping book. Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim in turn used the Unfinished Palazzo as a stage on which to re-fashion her life, each making the building famous, or notorious, in her way. Their worlds of art and imagination boasted an amazing supporting cast, from D’Annunzio and Nijinsky, via Noel Coward, Winston Churchill and Cecil Beaton, to Yoko Ono. Marchesa Luisa Casati made her home an aesthete’s fantasy and venue for parties as decadent as Renaissance court operas, spending small fortunes on her own costumes in her quest to become a ‘living work of art’. British socialite Doris Castlerosse (née Delevingne) made her mark during the hedonistic interwar years, hosting film stars and royalty at glittering parties. Jewish-American heiress Peggy Guggenheim turned the Palazzo into a model of modernist simplicity to house her exquisite collection of modern and surrealist art that today draws tourists and art-lovers from around the world. Individually, the lives of these women make remarkable stories of rebellion, absurd privilege and bold self-invention. Together they offer a snapshot of history – both of modern Venice, and of the way women chose to live in the 20th century.