Grimani family

The Grimani family were a prominent Venetian patrician family, including three Doges of Venice. They were active in trade, politics and later the ownership of theatres and opera-houses. Notable members included:

Grimani coat of arms

Notable membersEdit


The following structures are associated with the family:

The Grimani BreviaryEdit

Miniature depicting the month December, from the Grimani Breviary, illuminated by Gerard Horenbout with Alexander and Simon Bening

The Grimani Breviary, long in the library of San Marco and the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, is a key work in the late history of Flemish illuminated manuscripts. It was produced in Ghent and Bruges ca 1515-1520 and by 1520 owned, though possibly not originally commissioned, by Cardinal Domenico Grimani. Several leading artists, including Simon Bening, the Master of James IV of Scotland and Gerard David, contributed some of their finest work to it.[2]

Theatre entrepreneursEdit

All the main Venetian theatres were owned by important patrician families; combining business with pleasure in the Italian, if not European, city with the most crowded and competitive theatrical culture. When most opera in Europe was still being put on by courts, "economic prospects and a desire for exhibitionistic display", as well a decline in their traditional overseas trading, attracted the best Venetian families to invest in the theatre during the 17th century.[3]

The Grimani were dominant, owning what is now called the Teatro Malibran, then called the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo, as well as the San Benedetto theatre, and other houses. The Veniers owned La Fenice, still the main opera house. The Vendramin owned the important Teatro di San Luca or Teatro Vendramin, founded in 1622, later renamed the Teatro Apollo, and since 1875 called the Teatro Goldoni, which still thrives as the city's main theatre for plays, now in a building of the 1720s.[4] In the age of Carlo Goldoni, the greatest Venetian dramatist, only the San Luca and the Malibran still put on spoken drama, and his desertion of the Grimani for the Vendramins at San Luca in 1752 was a major event in the theatrical history of the period, ushering in perhaps his finest period, in which as well as his comedies, he played a significant role in the development of the opera buffa.[5] The Vendramins, who had considerable direct involvement in the management of the theatre, had a sometimes uneasy relationship with him, arguing over money and the style of his plays, until he left for Paris in 1761, as a result of a dispute with his rival, Carlo Gozzi. However the Vendramin did not take their involvement as far as Vincenzo Grimani, who was a cardinal and opera librettist.


  1. ^ See image File:Corfuvenetianblazon.jpg
  2. ^ T Kren & S McKendrick (eds), Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Getty Museum/Royal Academy of Arts, pp. 420-424 & passim, 2003, ISBN 1-903973-28-7
  3. ^ Lorenzo Bianconi, Giorgio Pestelli, Lydia G. Cochrane; Opera Production and Its Resources, p.16 ff, 1998, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226045900[1]
  4. ^ Teatro Goldoni[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Martin Banham, The Cambridge Guide to Theatrep. 433, 1995, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-43437-8