An unusually beatiful example of typical 15th century Gothic design, with its fanciful architectual motives, wealth of marbles and the splendour of its gold and colour, now all disappeared, which drew insperation from eastern rather than from northern art. It is probable that, in the original idea, begining with the traditional type of Venitian palace, the whole building should have been made with a central body flanked by two smaller side pieces, but only the right side was built, through lack of space.
It was constructed between 1421 and 1440, by Marin Contarini, on the site of a previous house, that once belonged to the Zeno family. This explains why some of the Veneto-byzantine style ornaments belong to the 13th century. The work of this splendid architectual creation, crowned with a typical happily planned crenellation, was carried out by the Lombard and Venetian stone-masons, supervised by Matteo Raverti and the Bons.
Today, minus the additions and irreverent transformations of the architect Meduna (middle of the 19th century) and with the little "Saracen" windows of the mezzanine floor, and the top frieze, it has re-aquired all the harmony of its original aspect. It became the property of the State as the result of a munificent gift on the part of Baron Giorgio Franchetti.
Important group of sculptures, bronzes, paintings and Flemish and Dutch art. Works by Tintoretto, Titian, Van Dyck, Alessandro Vittoria. A rich collection of works of art displayed in a typical Venetian-Gothic palace. In the sumptuous interior salons can be admired paintings by the most important Italian schools as well as antique furniture, tapestries and carpets. Among the numerous masterpieces exhibited are Titian’s Venus (room IV) and A. Mantegna’s St Sebastian (room VI).