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Palazzo Contarini Fasan and Palazzo Contarini: Exterior facades
The Contarini were one of the most ancient, powerful and wealthy of patrician families of Venice. Together with 11 other Venetian dynasties, they were an 'apostolic family' (i.e. present at the election of the first doge of Venice in AD 697). Over the centuries, branches of the Contarini constructed approximately 25 palaces in Venice, including the Ca' d'Oro. Palazzo Contarini Fasan is popularly known as "Desdemona's house." Both of these buildings were drawn by John Ruskin (drawing in the Ashmolean). Ruskin called the Palazzo Contarini-Fasan 'the most elaborate piece of architecture in Venice"; its traceried parapets were directly derived from northern Gothic architecture. Its proportions, criticised by some, were entirely the result of designing a practical and comfortable house in a narrow site.