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1,658 artworks, 83 artists
Venetian painting is a legacy of the Italian Early Renaissance that comprises the work of the artists from the 14—16th centuries Venice. The Venetian school enriched art with aesthetic and technical discoveries, wealth of emotional perception, and vivid and expressive canvases. Italian artists created the masterpieces that have earned the reputation of pictorial poetry. The works of the Venetian Renaissance professed humanistic ideas, emphasized the joy and richness of life, they adorned the magnificent temples and palaces of the Doges. The paintings became a feast for the eyes and the embodiment of the artists’ dreams of a happy and peaceful life among the paradise landscapes.
In the mid-15th century, Venice, a prosperous patrician republic, became the main trading centre of the Mediterranean. The culture of the region combined the lush and festive elements of Byzantine art, the sophisticated and ornate decorativeness of the Arab world and the mature Gothic art of Northern Europe. Noble and influential citizens of the republic wanted to decorate their houses with the views of a colourful and prosperous life, full-blooded carnal forms against the backdrop of sunny Italian landscapes. The artists of early Venetian painting preferred naive narrative, heroic optimism and festivity. The painters of the 16th century, the period of the defeat of the Byzantine Empire by the Turks and the weakening of the Venetian Republic influence, turned to the secular subjects. They filled their paintings with ethical accents, poetry of majestic and noble personalities, inspired by nature and “synthetic relationships”. Political and economic changes led to an increase in pessimistic sentiments and were reflected in the painting as dark heavy clouds, tragic subjects, the deaths of mythological heroes and gods, and mournful religious scenes.
The Venetian school artists sought to convey the beauty and sensuality of their subjects, while they did not care about the perfect depiction of the anatomical proportions, forms and compositions. The movements and facial expressions of the subjects became excessively theatrical and dramatic, which was enhanced by the contrasting play of light and shadow. The religious subjects gave way to the secular ones: portraits of clergy and influential nobles stepped back in favour of the mythological subjects with an abundance of naked flesh, urban landscapes and rural views. Artists used the technique of applying paint strokes on a perfectly smooth surface. Venetian painting was distinguished by its harmonious and majestic pictorial language: deep and rich shades of inanimate objects, translucent human figures, soaring bends and folds of fabrics, bright light reflections in the sky and on the water.