In the rooms of Villa Foscarini Rossi there is one fresco in particular by the artist Pietro Liberi which tells a story of love and betrayal.
Pietro Liberi was a handsome Venetian who was very popular with women. Whilst painting Villa Foscarini Rossi, Liberi began a passionate affair with Chiara Foscarini, the wife of noble Venetian Dandolo.
But one summer evening, in the middle of the night, the two lovers heard the crunch of wheels on the gravel outside and immediately realised that her husband had come back sooner than expected. Liberi managed to escape whilst Dandalo, on entering the bedroom, instantly understood that something strange was going on. Chiara denied everything but her husband was suspicious, particularly of the painter who was in the villa to paint the frescoes which we can still see today. Dandalo ordered Liberi to leave but the cheeky lover managed, with the assistance of a caretaker who received a tidy sum for his efforts, to convince the man that he had been detained in Venice for two days by an elderly aunt and that he had only recently returned to Stra.
The caretaker’s story convinced Dandalo and with this lie the painter was able to complete his fresco, receive his fee, and finally leave. One day a friend of Dandolo arrived at the villa and, looking at the beautiful woman depicted on the west wall, offered his compliments because the face of the portrait exactly resembled his wife. Dandolo, looking carefully at the fresco, realised that not only was the face the same but everything else resembled his wife, including the scenes where Chiara Foscarini was depicted naked. The conclusion of our story was reported as follows in the reports of the time: “He dressed her in a bocassin (a type of robe worn by serving women), took her by boat to her brothers and uncle Foscarini, and handed her over saying that he was returning the whore because he did not want to dirty his hands with her blood”.*
*From Storia di Venezia nella Vita Privata, Vol. III, Il Decadimento, page 124.