Casanova Comes to San Francisco


“Thalia, Muse of Comedy” by Jean-Marc Nattier

Thank you to all who have written to me about the upcoming exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor museum. “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe” opens February 10 to the general public, with a special opening the night before. Here’s a description from the museum website:

“Casanova: The Seduction of Europe explores the eighteenth century across Europe through the eyes of one of its most colorful characters, Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798). Renowned in modern times for his amorous pursuits, Casanova lived not only in Italy but also in France and England, and his travels took him as far afield as the Ottoman Empire and to meet Catherine the Great in Saint Petersburg. Gathering together paintings, sculpture, works on paper, furnishings, porcelain, silver, and period costume, The Seduction of Europe will bring the visual wealth of Casanova’s world to life.”

One curator who put this all together is Frederick Ilchman, who wears a myriad of artistic and academic hats: Chair, Art of Europe at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of Paintings; and Board Member at Save Venice, as well as being awarded numerous grants and fellowships. He specializes in Venetian painters such as Tintoretto, Titian, and Veronese and will be delivering a lecture about the Casanova show on February 10. He worked alongside fellow curator Virginia Brilliant.


“The Suspicious Husband” by Francis Hayman

I’ve been beside myself because I have a previous commitment on the day of the lecture and won’t be able to attend, but I plan to be at the museum for the opening night. I’m keen to meet Mr. Ilchman because…

…wait for it…

…he told me he used my book Seductive Venice and my Casanova research extensively when putting together this show!

How freakin’ cool is that? (Sorry, not very professional language from one who wants to be taken seriously as a scholar, but I got rather excited by this news.) In fact, my book is listed in the exhibit’s catalogue bibliography! This fact makes it rather difficult to understand why the museum has declined to carry my book in their store or have me participate in their presentations. Yes, I’m a high school teacher and not a university professor, but I did do my homework on C! Oh well, I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting Mr. Ilchman, whom I’ve only emailed with so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing this show to enjoy a new visual perspective into C’s life and times.


Portrait of Manon Balletti by Jean-Marc Nattier

The museum website offers an extensive digital cornucopia of background information about Casanova and his travels, as well as information about a number of the paintings on display. You can even click on audio snippets, such as this by Ilchman:

“People liked to come there in the 18th century because it was a center of opera and plays, and the place you could buy beautiful art, you could gamble, and you could also feast and drink and dance and spend time with the most beautiful and alluring courtesans of Europe. It makes complete sense that Casanova, who was so absorbed by the pleasure of the senses, that he would come from Venice.” (or click HERE for the page with the audio link.) 

The exhibit runs till May 28 in San Francisco and then moves to Boston, so all you East Coasters will get your chance to see it. I’ll post again after I’ve seen the show.

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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4 Responses to Casanova Comes to San Francisco

  1. This sounds fantastic. Your excitement at being used as a source is totally understandable. Shame they won’t stock it but you may pick up a few sales anyway. I hope so ……

  2. claudius1889 says:

    Hello Seductive Venice and congratulations on your book. Shame that the museum has declined to put your book in its shop, their loss. I have just started a blog about classical art ( and I am a lover of the XVIII century. Look forward to hearing from you

    • Hello Claudius1889–Thanks for reaching out to tell me about your new blog. I’ll check it out today. Thanks for commiserating with me about the museum bookstore issue. I believe it’s so important to support local authors and artists, so many voices worth paying attention to, even if they don’t have major representation from publishers and galleries. By the way, did you see my recent post about Laura Morelli? You might like her new book, The Painter’s Apprentice, though it’s set in the 17th century.

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