Visiting the artisanal workshop of the last gold leaf beater in Europe is a rare chance to watch this ancient craft, that in Venice dates back to around the year 1000. Participants will see the goldbeating by Maestro Marino Menegazzo, the cutting and packaging of the thin gold foils made by his wife and daughters. The workshop is inside the palace where the great painter Tiziano lived for 45 years, and where he eventually died. The paper-thin leaves, created in various thickness, formats and colours, are handcrafted for professional users, such as mosaic-makers, glaziers, glass beads makers, restorers, gilders and artists.
A rare master of a demanding craftThe craft of goldbeating reached Venice from Byzantium around the year 1000, when trade relations were thriving. In the capital of the Empire this craft was used to create mosaics, but in the Serenissima Republic it was implemented in a new and innovative way: ultra thin gold leaves were used to embellish the glass for which Venice became a world leader, as well as to magnify the prestige of banquets staged by the city’s rich inhabitants, who were willing to get into debt in order to serve dishes covered in gold. “However, it was not until the 18th century that the goldbeating craft reached its height,” explains Marino Menegazzo, master goldbeater. “In Venice there were 300 goldbeaters; together with glassmakers, they were the only artisans who could marry a woman of higher rank. But to prevent their guild from becoming too powerful, they could not own the gold they worked.”
A free audio guide, available to stream from 10 April to 1 May, will enhance your experience of Homo Faber in Citta. Discover more about Venice, its crafts workshops and its heritage as a city of craftsmanship, to complement your personal tour.Listen
Please stay informed about the latest Covid safety requirements in Venice and comply with any requests from the venues you visit, to ensure the safety of yourself and the participating artisans.
Make sure you arrive on time at each venue (although no more than ten minutes early), to make the most of your experience and the artisan’s time. Please call the venue ahead of time if you are likely to be late.
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