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Home /  Exhibitions / Past Exhibitions / Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads
Detail of a painting with a Renaissance woman in an ornate dress with jewellery

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads

Thu Oct 14, 2021 to Jan 09, 2022, All Day

Renaissance Venice was a multicultural metropolis where migration and mobility shaped the daily lives of its inhabitants. Its position at the crossroads of trade routes linking Europe to the Islamic World brought a continuous flow of commodities like pigments, spices, and luxury objects. In the homes of Venetians, these imported goods complemented locally-made products like maiolica, or tin-glazed earthenware.

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads recreates a sensory world of objects, foregrounding visual conversations across cultures as well as artisan trades as they took shape through the manipulation of materials, form, colour, and ornament.

Featuring works ranging from Chinese porcelain and Islamic metalware to Venetian textiles and glass, this exhibition explores how objects connected cultures and geographies during the Renaissance. It questions the role of objects and images in stimulating significant forms of encounter, and more specifically, the role of ceramics in encapsulating cultural exchanges and intersections.

This dynamic web of relationships forms the backdrop for the story of Venice’s maiolica industry as it developed throughout the 1500s. Key to its success was the influx of migrant artisans from other parts of the Italian peninsula, privileged access to materials, and vibrant market demand. At the forefront are the lived experiences of people across the social spectrum, from the makers of objects to the wealthy elites. Visitors are invited to step into the workshop of the potter-entrepreneur and engage in a counter-narrative that seeks to recover the experiences of Renaissance women from different walks of life.

A global city in constant movement, Renaissance Venice parallels our own lives in many ways. Works by contemporary artists Lindsay Montgomery, Dorie Millerson, and Nadia Myre expand upon the connections between the present and the legacies of the past. Each brings a feminist critique that focuses, respectively, on story-telling traditions, domestic labour and exploitation, and Venice’s symbolic connection to the Americas and Indigenous Peoples through printed publications.

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads features over 110 objects including ceramic, glass, metalware, printed books, lace, velvets, carpets, painting, and prints. Participating lenders include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Royal Ontario Museum, the Aga Khan Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Textile Museum of Canada. The exhibition is accompanied by catalogue published by Hirmer Art Publishers.


Important update: Docent-led tours will be temporarily suspended as of Sunday December 19.

Join us for a docent-led tour of the exhibition, free with admission. No advanced registration is necessary. Space is limited.

Thursday – Friday: 2 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11 am & 2 pm

Programs & events

Wednesday October 27, 12 – 1 pm
Curator Tour
Discover the exhibition alongside curator Dr. Karine Tsoumis.

Thursday October 28, 1 – 2 pm
Free online program
Chinese Porcelain in Venice: From Marco Polo to Maestro Jacomo
Dr. Karine Tsoumis will explore the journey of porcelain from China to Venice.

Thursday November 4, 6 – 7:30 pm
Preserving Artistic Heritage: An Evening with Save Venice
Patron Insider Event
Limited tickets available to the public.
Curator Karine Tsoumis will sit down with Christopher Apostle, Project Director at Save Venice, to discuss the work being done to restore and protect maiolica in Venice today.

Tuesday November 9, 1 – 2 pm
Free online program
3 Works: Nadia Myre
Nadia Myre, a visual artist from Quebec and an Algonquin member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg First Nation, whose work is featured in the exhibition, will discuss three of her artworks.

Wednesday November 24, 12 – 1 pm
Highlight Tour with Dorie Millerson
Join Dr. Karine Tsoumis for a special tour in conversation with exhibiting artist Dorie

Thursday November 25, 1 – 2 pm
Free online program
Transcultural Earth: Mimetic Earthenware and Artisanal Knowledge
Dr. Marta Ajmar, Head of Postgraduate Programmes at the V&A, will engage with a little-explored chapter of Italian Renaissance artisanal expertise: pottery glazes.

Thursday December 2, 1 – 2 pm
Free online program
Virtual Artist Demo with Lindsay Montgomery
Ceramic artist Lindsay Montgomery is known for her contemporary interpretations of Medieval and Renaissance imagery. Watch her stream live from the studio and get a peek into her fascinating process.

Monday December 6, 5 – 6 pm
Highlight Tour with Karine Tsoumis: From Lacemakers to Courtesans
Step into the lives of Renaissance women in this special exhibition tour highlighting select objects created by female artisans, owned by women, and conveying ideals of femininity.

Thursday December 9, 1 – 2 pm
Free online program
Questioning Quarantine in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice
Dana E. Katz will explore the concept of quarantine in the context of the Venetian Jewish ghetto.

Wednesday December 15, 12 – 1 pm
Highlight Tour with Dr. Fahmida Suleman
Join Dr. Karine Tsoumis for a special tour in conversation with Dr. Fahmida Suleman, Curator of the Islamic World at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Wednesday December 15, 5 – 6 pm
Curator Tour (French)
La visite guidée sera offerte en français.

Thursday January 6, 12 – 1 pm
Curator Tour
Discover the exhibition alongside curator Dr. Karine Tsoumis.

Presenting Programs Sponsor
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Exhibition Supporting Sponsor
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Official Paint Sponsor

Farrow & Ball logo

Thanks To

Instituto italiano di cultura

Community Partners
Villa Charities

This exhibition includes objects generously provided by the Royal Ontario Museum.

Header: Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine (detail), 1550-60, Oil on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter O. Briggs, 44.265