After Paris and New York, this large-scale exhibition dedicated to the relationship between Venice and the world of Islam arrives in the city itself, finding an ideal venue in the Doge’s Palace, a building that is the very symbol of the Venetian Republic’s thousand-year history.
It was largely due to its relations with the Near East that Venice became a great maritime empire. In the sixth century the city was still a Byzantine outpost in the West. Then, over the period from the ninth to the eleventh century, it would gradual acquire greater independence and autonomy, consolidating its trading activities along the main routes in the Mediterranean. Throughout the vicissitudes of history, the city would build up a privileged relationship with these great dynasties, and also show itself capable of appreciating Islamic learning and science. And if Venice demonstrated its respects and admiration for Islamic culture, it received the same sort of respect in return: whilst Venetian artists and craftsman explored the techniques, materials and styles of decoration developed in the Muslin world, the markets of the East were very happy to import Venetian products, with the sultans themselves frequently commissioning work.
The aim of this exhibition is to bring out the extent of this mutual influence. Casting a new and interesting light on the men of these centuries, it increases our appreciation of the sprit of initiative that animated them. The show is divided into chronological-thematic sections that cover almost a thousand years of history, from 828 – the date of the legendary transfer of the body of St. Mark from Alexandria to Venice – right up to 1797, the year of the fall of the Republic.
The fruit of collaboration between scholars from the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musei Civici Veneziani, the exhibition is curated by Stefano Carboni, organized and promoted by the Venice City Council and by the Fondazione di Venezia, with the participation of Venezia Musei CNS (Consorzio Nazionale dei Servizi) and Teleart.