Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carnevale di Venezia

Of all the places where Carnival
Was most facetious in the days of yore,
For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
And masque, and mime, and mystery, and more
Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
Venice the bell from every city bore,~
And at the moment when I fix my story,
That sea-born city was in all her glory.

(From "Beppo", by Lord Byron, 1818.)

With fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking,
And other things which may be had for asking. ("Beppo")

An antique calling card, on the verso of an early playing card

And gaiety on restless tiptoe hovers,
Giggling with all the gallants who beset her;
And there are songs and quavers, roaring, humming,
Guitars, and every other sort of strumming. ("Beppo")

The Carnival in Venice was a popular stop on the nineteenth century Grand Tour. Tourists and the crown heads of Europe alike, cavorted at parades, masque balls and street parties in Piazza San Marco, the Piazzetta, and in the courtyard of the Ducal Place.

Such events were perfect opportunities for the nobility to exchange and collect each other's cartes de visites. Here is a page from an early collector's album. (Click on image to enlarge)

Oh mirth and innocence!

P.S. The color headpiece at the top of this post showing Carnival revelers, is an antique print by Tolmer et cie, Paris. For three generations Maison Tolmer was known for their exquisite designs and printing for French couturiers and parfumeries.


  1. As amazing as the Carnival must be now, I would love to have attended in the 19th century. Actually, I would've loved to have taken the Grand Tour. Can you imagine?

    Wonderful pictures, Marjorie! I love seeing all their calling cards--so beautiful! xo

  2. Thank you for all these graphic yummies. I wonder if they could have ever imagined back then how much we all drool over their penmanships. sigh!!!

  3. Dear Marjorie,
    How I wish that I could be visiting Venice for the Carnevale. We were in Venice in 2008, and vowed that we would go back in February one day.
    I would love to have seen what it was like in the 19th century, although I think that it might not have been so romantic as we like to think it was. I think that it was fine if you were one of the rich and elite but, I can imagine some very sinister things going on in those winding little streets,
    I'd like to have been privy to the goings on in the Doge's Palace !!
    Thanks for the look at the memorabilia, Marjorie. XXXX

  4. Marjorie my dear,
    What a wonderful display of antique images for this grand celebration!!! I was so busy today in the classroom that I wasn't able to concentrate on the fun and festivity of the day! Thank you for your lovely posts! Bisous, Anita

  5. Hi Marjorie, I love that first image! The colors are amazing!
    My birthday is on the 27th.....but I spent the day with my friend and she bought those booties for me and I just think they are so sweet....
    I am putting a little something in the mail for you tomorrow so keep an eye out!

  6. Dear Marjorie
    Well you probably know that Venezia is one of my favourite places... although.. seeing it is such a distance to travel.. i've only been in summer.. I think Carnevale would be spectacular, although not sure about navigating the crowds.. The print by Tolmer is quite lovely... oh... to return to bella Venezia... qualche volta!! ciao ciao xx Julie

  7. I'd love to attend! Oh the places I'll go, once I get my way-back machine running... xo, gg

  8. all looks so wonderful, marjorie

    have a wonderful weekend,
    sending love,

  9. I think you have found the perfect, perfect calling card, Madame!

  10. The calling cards are so amazing. There was a wonderful fabric that an ancestor of Madame X in the Sargeant painting made that was old calling cards... I loved it. I don't think it's out anymore but it and she were great ( I got to use some of her fabric on a movie so I met her--her family still lives in the same plantation in the south!) I wish I could remember her name for you, because you would be wild for the fabric!