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An ancient family whose presence in Venice can be dated back, at least, to 12th December 982 A.D., when two members of the family were among the 40 signatories of a deed whereby the small island of San Giorgio was donated to the Benedictine's order: one, Pietro, looked upon as the founder of the Family, and another one, a Bishop.
However, the name Marcello already featured in the history of Venice before that date; and indeed there was the legendary Doge Tegaliano Marcello, who was the " Magister Equitum" of the Emperor of Bysance, and originally from Cittanova, close to Altino.
There were Marcellos living in Altino in the age of the Romans, as several archaeological findings clearly show, and it has always been a common notion that the Family descended from the Gens Claudia, to which the Gens Marcella belonged, who in turn descended from the famous Gens Julia, whose founder was Julo the son of Enea, the son of Venus!
Of course, there is no evidence to support this last claim, which shows however, to say the least, a vivid imagination!
The Family became a member of the Maggior Consiglio in 1297, shortly before the "Serrata" (the Lock-out), when the list of the families who could take part in the election of the Doge was finally closed, thus acquiring an inviolable and hereditary right to a seat in what can be described as the 'Board of Directors' that controlled Venice and its commercial empire, one of the most powerful in centuries.
The Family distinguished itself by its bravery during battles, and gave Venice several commanders and famous admirals. Among the latter it is worth mentioning an Antonio, who died during the seizure of Gallipoli, and whose body was then shown standing, with the help of some pikes, so that his troops would not be demoralized and could follow his lead into the battle.
Another one, whose name was Jacopo Anton, who conquered Garda Lake for the Visconti Family, by carrying some boats from the Adige to the Lake across the mountains, and who conquered Verona for Dalla Scala Family in the XV century. He befriended many artists and men of letters, and was so famous that he was depicted by Mantenga in a manuscript.
The Palazzo was built at the beginning of 1400 for Giovanni Marcello where previously an ancient Monastery stood.
Among the admirals it is worth mentioning Lorenzo that died in Constantinople, in the XVII century after defeating the Turkish fleet. His body was then brought back in Venice in a barrel of salt, since Venetian were not squanderers, unlike the English who, several decades later, would bring Nelson's body back from Trafalgar in a barrel of sherry.
The Family specialized in the sale of silks and damasks, and had several branches (fondaci) in various cities in the Middle East, as in Constantinople where a Bartolomeo Bailo was an ambassador to the Sultanate, and in Trebisonda, in Tana in Crimea, in San Giovanni d'Acri in Lebanon etc.With regard to this, there is a peculiar portrait by Titian of Doge Nicolò, now at the Vatican Museums, where the latter is depicted wearing a rich damask robe, made of the same
fabric that Nicolò Marcello used to sell and that he introduced as a standard for Dogal robes, and where the sitter is portrayed with an outstretched arm showing his products, almost like a model.
There was also a Loredana, wife of a Doge Mocenigo in the XVII century, a botany scholar, who had a wonderful botanical garden in the Island of Giudecca; unfortunately not even one of her works has been saved because she was compelled to hand over every single work to the Senate that, in turn, immediately destroyed it: the wife of a Doge was not allowed, under any circumstance, to express any kind of opinion, not even on roses, even if she was one of the five dogaressas honoured by the Pope with the Golden Rose.
Renown for artistic merits were the two brothers, Benedetto and Alessandro Marcello, who were composers betwen the XVII and XVIII centuries
Benedetto was called Prince of Music, by his contemporaries and the second is best known for the adagio per Oboe.
A curiosity is the logo of the Hotel, the Blue lion holding a sun, goes back to the late 1400, when the King Renato Angio' gave it to Jacopo Antonio Marcello as a token of friendship, also designating him to the Crescente Order, a very exclusive Knights' Order at the time. .... The King also offered him a motto 'L'os en crossant' which means 'the rising tide'.