In its 15th-century heyday, the façade of this pretty townhouse on the Grand Canal must have looked a psychedelic treat: the colour scheme was light blue and burgundy, with 24-carat gold highlights. Though the colour has worn off, the Grand Canal frontage of Ca' d'Oro - built for merchant Marin Contarini between 1421 and 1431 - is still the most elaborate example of the florid Venetian Gothic style besides the Doge's Palace.
Inside, little of the original structure and decor has survived. The pretty courtyard was reconstructed with its original 15th-century staircase and well-head a century ago by Baron Franchetti; the mosaic floor is a 19th-century imitation of the floors in San Marco. The Baron also assembled the collection of paintings, sculptures and coins that is exhibited inside.
The highlight of the collection is Mantegna's St Sebastian, a powerful late work; the Palladian frame contrasts oddly with the saint's existential anguish. The rest is good in parts, though not necessarily the parts you would expect. A small medal of Sultan Mohammed II by Gentile Bellini (a souvenir of his years in Constantinople, being restored as this guide went to press) is more impressive than the worse than faded frescoes by Titian and Giorgione removed from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. There are some good Renaissance bronzes from deconsecrated churches and small but vigorous plaster models by Bernini for the statues on the fountains in Rome's piazza Navona.
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