The staircase was designed by the architect Andrea Tirali for Gerardo Sagredo in the third decade of the 18th century and completed in 1732 when Pietro Longhi started to paint the frescoes which still surround it.
The staircase was just a part of an overall renovation projected for the palace, undertaken by Gerardo, which included all the halls of the building and a restoration of the façade, based on a design by the architect Tommaso Temanza.
The latter project was then abandoned due to family quarrelling and economic reasons. Two marble cherubs by Francesco Bertos decorate the entrance to the staircase, glancing to the incoming guests.
The floor is in mosaic, decorated with elegant coloured volutes.
Andrea Tirali (Venice c. 1660 – Monselice 1737)
This Venetian architect was mainly known for his technical skills. His work, inspired by Palladian shapes, was part of the Classical reaction to Baroque art. He built the Ponte dei Tre Archi over the Cannaregio canal in Venice in 1688.
Francesco Bertos (1678 – 1741)
He was a Venetian sculptor who worked in Rome, Venice, Padua, Turin and Florence. Some of his works are housed in Palazzo Ducale in Turin, others in London.
The Portego is a broad salon which runs along the whole first floor connecting the façade to the back of the building.
Most of the Palazzo’s main halls –the Library, the Sala di Sebastiano Ricci, the Sala dei Disegni- on the noble floor surround it. During the height of it splendour, numerous paintings hung among the stucco work: in 1738 they were 105, in four rows. Between 1774 and 1780 these paintings were sold and replaced with large canvases by Andrea Urbani, still hanging, which depict landscapes with ruins and hunting scenes.
He painted also remarkable allegorical figures above the doors. The long hall, enriched by chandeliers in Murano glass, overlooks the Grand Canal with a four-light window surmounted by four quatrefoils where the light of the lagoon filters through, creating a magical atmosphere.
The paintings by the Venetian Andrea Urbani decorate numerous villas in the Veneto region. He worked in Udine, Padua and Venice. His fame was so notable that he was called to the Russian Court, in St. Petersburg, between 1760 and 1763, where he worked as a painter and set designer.
Overlooking the Grand Canal, on the right of the Portego, it is a National Monument.
A balcony runs all along the upper part, composed by a wooden railing with small golden columns. Above the impressive 18th century wardrobes in white and light green wood with golden carvings, the letters of the alphabet still stand out clearly.
These wardrobes once fostered Zaccaria Sagredo’s massive collection of volumes and printings and still nowadays completely cover the walls: the collection included more than 10,000 printed books and 309 drawings.
The magnificent artwork is completed by a suite on the upper floor, connected to the Sala della Biblioteca through a ladder hidden in one of the wardrobes.
The painter Jacopo Amigoni (1682 – 1752) was one of the first and most appreciated representatives of Venetian rococo, which in fact was also called “Amigoni’s style” in Germany.
Adjacent to the Portego, the Sala Amigoni is the connection area with the other function rooms of the noble floor.
The name of this room derives from the portrait of Doge Nicolò Sagredo that once hung here.
The ceiling features a painting by Nicolò Bambini: La Sconfitta dei Vizi (The Defeat of Vices), depicting a glorious god Apollo from whom the other characters try to shelter. The painting is framed by elegant stucco work from the early 18th century.
Nicolò Bambini (Venice 1651 – Venice 1736)
He was a pupil of Liberti and Mazzoni and a part of the faction of Venetian painters. He worked intensely painting altarpieces and paintings with historical, mythological and allegorical subjects. He worked in several Venetian palaces. He is defined as an eclectic.
The jewel of this hall is surely Giambattista Tiepolo’s ceiling painting.
It dates back to around 1740 and it is framed by golden stucco works, now unfortunately difficult to decipher because of the time gone by, in spite of the salvage.
The painting, where two flying cupids can still be recognized, most likely depicts a homage to Venice. This is the only one among the numerous works painted by Tiepolo for the Sagredo family still remaining in the palace.
Giambattista Tiepolo ( Venice 1696 – Madrid 1770 )
Master 18th century decorator, he was also a draughtsman and skilled engraver. He was among the last and most important representatives of Baroque painting. A pupil of Lazzarini, he was also influenced by Ricci and Piazzetta, as well as by the greatest 16th century Venetian painters, with a preference for Veronese.
He was the master of the palette and lightness of stroke in 18th century Venetian painting, so his presence was requested everywhere. He created a never-ending supply of frescos, altarpieces and historical and mythological paintings which witness to his unlimited creativity.
In the golden and precious Music Ballroom, numerous frescoes attributed to Gaspare Diziani completely cover the walls and ceiling.
In the main work, inside a painted balustrade, Apollo appears on his sun cart among the other Olympian gods throwing down the capital vices. Along the walls stand, inside sham niches, the monochromatic figures of Minerva, Neptune, Cibel, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Juno and Jupiter. An attentive observer will notice stylistic differences due to minor artists’ contribution, although Diziani’s style can be easily recognized in the figures of Venus and Minerva. Still nowadays, with this perfect acoustics, the neverending music in this ballroom can really wrap you: just by skimming over the piano keyboard and playing a few notes, the figures of the frescoes seem to turn to life.
Splendid chandeliers in gold leaf hang from the ceiling, and the floor is embellished with the coat of arms of the Sagredo family. The frescos on one wall act as a camouflage for a door to the secret passage which once led to the “Casino Sagredo”. This passageway was used by mistresses during balls to discretely make their way to the master’s alcove.
Gaspare Diziani (Belluno 1689 – Venice 1767)
Renown painter and engraver, he was a student of Gregorio Lazzarini and Sebastiano Ricci. The fame he earned through painting theatre settings took him to Dresden in 1717, to the court of Augustus III of Saxony. He returned to Venice in 1720 to enjoy a successful painting career. He moved to various cities in Veneto to create landscapes and historical portraits as well as religious paintings. His art made him swift and lively in sketches, extraordinary in drawings and sweet and simple in depicting cherubs and angels. He was elected as President of the Accademia di Pittura of Venice in 1766, but he was unable to finish his term in office: he died in Piazza San Marco in Venice in 1767.
This is a series of rooms, originally the Casino Sagredo, decorated with stucco works and bas relieves depicting birds, exotic animals, symbols of the arts and trophies.
In one of the rooms the emblems of painting, sculpture, music and architecture are represented on the four upper corners, and three refined landscapes are on the ceiling.
The decoration is one of the best early 18th century Venetian works, and was created by the Lugano artists Carpoforo Mazzetti and Abbondio Stazio in 1718. The six rooms of the Casino were turned into two elegant suites, featuring living rooms, named after the subjects in the artworks. The decoration of the Alcove is currently preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Abbondio Stazio (Massagno 1663 – Venice 1757)
After a period of training as a stucco artist in Rome, Abbondio Stazio worked mainly in Venice. His works, including stucco and decorations, feature decorative and figurative elements treated in an extremely plastic and vigorous manner with clear late Baroque influences. The decoration of Palazzo Sagredo is in a completely different style, the stucco is lighter and more minute. This signed and dated work was created with the collaboration of his pupil Carpoforo Mazzetti Tencalla.