The history of perfume in Venice ... from Princess Teodora Ducas to The Merchant of Venice

YEAR 1000

Venice, the European Capital of Trade

In the late Middle Ages, Venice is already the center of the European trades. As a matter of fact in 1060 the princess Teodora Ducas, daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium, gets married with the Doge Domenico Selvo.

Thus began the history of perfume and cosmetics in Venice, which will become in later centuries the center of the European perfumery art.

YEAR 1200

The "Mude"

The Republic of Venice periodically sponsors the shipping routes of Venetian merchants to Middle and Far East with commercial purposes.

The Venetian merchants trade goods produced in Venice with spices, incense, perfumes and silks from Asia and North Africa, through the “Road of Silk” and the sea routes controlled by the Byzantines and Arabs.

Reworked in Venice, these goods are then shipped to various parts of Europe, object of the yearning of men and women prepared to pay large sums of money to secure them.

YEAR 1271

The discovery of China

Marco Polo, on his return to Venice from his trip to China, introduces many cultural aspects of China including body care.

Many names of fragrant substances, plants and animals, are written in his travel report “Il Milione”.

YEAR 1400

The Venetian Perfumery Art

With the quantity of raw materials brought by trades with the East, the Venetian perfumery stands up to a period of great splendor.

his is the century of the birth of the Corporations of Saoneri (soap producers) and Muschieri (perfume producers) which have the merit of transforming the craftsmanship linked to cosmetics into real art.

YEAR 1500

Perfumes and cosmetics

The interest in the composition of perfumes and cosmetics is documented by the numerous publications printed in Venice in the 16thcentury featuring recipes and treatises that revealed the ‘secrets' of their manufacture and promised beauty and appeal but also health effects.

One book stands out among the various publications: “Notandissimi Secreti dell'Arte profumatoria” (“The very noble secrets of Perfumery Art”) published in Venice in 1555.

It contains 300 recipes, including the art of hair dyeing, the art of perfuming the bod y or the house, the art of adding scents to laundry or leather accessories smelling tanning leather.

ANNO 1600

The Saoneri and Venetian Perfumers

The masters Venetian soap makers and perfumers are requested in the European courts and particularly in France to practice their art as real artists.

In Venice rich and not so rich shops display a wide variety of perfumed waters and pastes to satisfy the most demanding request, while the number of hairdressers and barbers in town raise up to 400, evidence of the Venetian attention to personal care.

YEAR 2011

Vidal family

The Vidal family expresses the need and the will to create a cultural project that is capable of generating the appropriate relationship between the perfumery tradition of the family within the Venetian cultural patrimony and the history of the perfumery art in the city.

YEAR 2013

The Merchant of Venice - the cultural project

This ambitious project has two souls: commercial and cultural.

It takes its inspiration from the ancient Mude, the Venetian trade routes.

Due to the collaboration with the Fondazione Musei Civici of Venice, Palazzo Mocenigo is re-opened to the public. The palace, already the Study Centre for the History of Venetian Textile and Costumes, now also houses eight new rooms dedicated to the history of the Venetian Perfumery Art.

YEAR 2014

The Merchant of Venice - Brand

In October, the new Brand, The Merchant of Venice, is launched, which includes the first collection of Eau de Parfum, the Murano Collection, and a series of high -level ancillary products.

The Flagship Store of the Brand opens inside the ancient pharmacy shop (circa 1600) in Campo San Fantin.

During the same year, The Merchant of Venice wins the “CULTURA+IMPRESA 2014” award.

YEAR 2015

New collection and Salon de Parfum entrance

Following the phenomenon of Brand awareness, highly prestigious lines are presented: Nobil Homo (masculine line), Murano Exclusive (symbol of refinement and elegance), and Murano Art Collection, The latter is a unique line that is capable of combining the perfumery art with that of the ancient art of Murano glass.

In July of the same year, The Merchant of Venice enters the magnificent Salon de Parfum, a space in Harrods that is dedicated to the most refined fragrances throughout the world.

YEAR 2016

Rosa Moceniga

The brand launches three new fragrances: Rosa Moceniga, a fragrance dedicated to the homonymous flower whose origins are linked to the Venetian perfume tradition, and La Fenice, a tribute to the Gran Teatro, an internationally renowned institution.

During the same year The Merchant of Venice continues its commercial expansion opening three stores in Murano, Verona and Milan.

YEAR 2017

The Merchant of Venice SPA

The Merchant of Venice opens the first SPA, an exclusive wellness area to offer treatments and massages with oils created by the brand following ancient oriental recipes imported over the centuries into the lagoon city by its merchants.

The Venezia Essenza collection is presented, two new sophisticated Eau de Parfum Concentrée, a masculine and a feminine, which recount the essence, beauty and uniqueness of the city of Venice.

YEAR 2018

New Boutiques and first edition of Artigiani a Palazzo

Dubai, Florence and Rome are the three prestigious cities chosen by The Merchant of Venice for new openings. The concept was conceived and curated by the internationally renowned theatrical scenographer Pier Luigi Pizzi, who has already signed the restyling and the design project for the Palazzo Mocenigo Perfume Museum in Venice and the Milan store.

The Merchant of Venice presents Blue Tea, the first fragrance on the market that pays tribute to this rare and precious raw material.

The first edition of Artigiani a Palazzo took place. The day dedicated to artistic handicrafts at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo was organised and promoted by Confartigianato Venezia, Mavive and The Merchant of Venice in collaboration with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Several Venetian craftsmen enlivened the rooms of the aristocratic residence, home of the Museum, with live demonstrations. The event will also take place in subsequent years.

YEAR 2019

New launch for the International Luxury Convention and awards for The Merchant of Venice Spa

In April, the first edition of the International Convention - luxury division of The Merchant of Venice is held at the San Clemente Palace Kempinski. The international sales force is invited to Venice for an exclusive experience in the Lagoon and the presentation of new fragrances including Imperial Emerald, the seductive Eau de Perfume Concentrèe inspired by the most enchanting and majestic creature ever: the peacock. 

In the same year, The Merchant of Venice SPA at the San Clemente Palace Kempinski was awarded at the World SPA Awards 2019 as the best Hotel SPA in Italy and Europe.

YEAR 2020

Creation of a new concept store and launch of new fragrances

Bottega Cini is created, a concept store with the features of a Renaissance workshop reinterpreted in a contemporary key.  Bottega Cini represents the meeting of three entrepreneurial realities from the world of culture, Fondazione Archivio Vittorio Cini, The Merchant of Venice and Museyoum.

My Pearls was launched, a new fragrance in honour of the Gran Teatro La Fenice to pay homage to its female performers; and two new fragrances from the Nobil Homo collection: Colonia Veneziana and Damascus Desert.

In the same year, The Merchant of Venice SPA at the San Clemente Palace Kempinski was again named Best SPA Hotel in Italy at the World SPA Awards 2020.

YEAR 2021

New Pure City Spa and homage to Venice on its 1600th anniversary

The year 2021 represents the 1600th anniversary of the birth of Venice, and to celebrate the city, The Merchant of Venice launches Vinegia 21, an Eau de Perfume Concentrèe composed of the most precious raw materials, enclosed in the elegant blue and gold bottle of the Murano Exclusive collection.

In November of the same year, The Merchant of Venice's new Pura City SPA was inaugurated, located inside the Cà di Dio hotel. The Spa is a regenerating space where one can benefit from various beauty treatments including the exclusive Blue Tea Ritual and the Splendor facial treatment with gold leaf.

YEAR 2022

Celebrating a new beginning: launch of Accordi di Profumo line in an exhibition at Palazzo Monigo and opening of the new olfactory bookshop Studium

At Palazzo Mocenigo, two innovative exhibitions are inaugurated: Es-senze and Accordi di Profumo. Es-senze is an exhibition of contemporary art dedicated to olfaction. Accordi di Profumo is presented together with the launch of the collection of the same name. Through 8 overlapping Nature-Conscious Eau de Parfums, The Merchant of Venice proposes an extraordinary journey of discovery that revolves around raw materials of excellent quality . 

Another ambitious project was launched in May: the relaunch of the historic Libreria Studium in St. Mark's, through the enrichment of the international bookshop and the introduction of an unprecedented olfactory library specially designed for composition and olfactory training courses.



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