This exhibition is part of Carnegie Hall’s citywide festival La Serenissima: Music and Arts from the Venetian Republic.

A tolerant and secular state, the Venetian Republic originated in the lagoon communities around Venice and existed for half a millennium, from 1297 until 1797. Dominated by a merchant capitalist elite who did business through sea trade, the Republic of Venice enjoyed an autonomy and freedom that was not typical of the rest of Italy, and which for centuries made it a destination for love and pleasure.

Titled “Love in Venice,” the exhibition at The New York Public Library will examine the literary, artistic, musical and cultural aspects of Venice’s seductiveness, including its beautiful courtesans, lavish festivals, lively carnivals and libertine counter-culture. On view will be works as diverse as the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, one of the most iconic works produced in Venice to explore ideas of desire, to flap books showing the undergarments of Venetian prostitutes, etchings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, letters from Lord Byron’s paramours and examples of wedding poetry celebrating the unions of leading European families.

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