Tasteful Carpaccio’s painting and drawings in Venice

Teresa Scarale
Teresa Scarale
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"Vittore Carpaccio. Paintings and Drawings" promises to be most anticipated Venetian exhibition event for the 2023 spring season

The exhibition "Vittore Carpaccio. Paintings and Drawings" promises to be most anticipated Venetian exhibition event for the spring season, from March 18 to June 18. It will be on view in the Doge's Apartment, in the Doge's Palace. The major retrospective was made possible thanks to the collaboration between the Venetian Civic Museums and the National Gallery of Washington. It is curated by Peter Humfrey, a recognized specialist on the painter and his context, with Andrea Bellieni, curator of the Venice Civic Museums, and Gretchen Hirschauer, curator of Italian and Spanish painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

«The painting of Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1460/66 - c. 1525/26) celebrates, the grandeur and splendor of Venice at the turn of the 15th century, when the lagoon city dominated a vast maritime empire and flourished as a center of international trade and culture», emphasizes Mariacristina Gribaudi, president of the Venetian Civic Museums. «The artist's narrative paintings – especially the famous cycles created for various religious brotherhoods – transport sacred stories into real life, placing them in fantastic settings, albeit enriched with endless contemporary details and references. Inspired by the environment and society of his extraordinary city, Carpaccio combines careful observation of the urban scene with his particular transport for the poetic and the fantastic».

«His works, perhaps more than those of other Venetian Renaissance artists, represent the essence of the so called "Venetian-ness", that is, the pageantry and mythology of the Serenissima Republic, at that time at its economic and cultural apogee. Venice, also with this exhibition, celebrates its history, its tradition, and one of its illustrious painters who, with his art, has told the story of the city, its beauty, succeeding in handing down to us images of daily life from a past that returns, thus, to life," commented Mayor Luigi Brugnaro at press conference.

Loans generously granted by museums, churches, institutes and private collections, from Europe and the United States, make it possible to bring back to Venice works that have been far from the lagoon for centuries; some sent by the artist himself to the ancient territories once linked to the Serenissima, such as Istria and Dalmatia, and never returned until now. They are essential in order to now be able to offer in the rooms of the Doge's Apartment an itinerary that documents in the most objective and complete way the evolution of Carpaccio's art. Forty-five paintings on religious, secular or genre themes - among them some of large dimensions - highlight the artist's great imaginative, narrative and descriptive gifts, as well as his skillful painting technique. Together, a large core of drawings demonstrates his special ability to 'study' reality in minute detail, revealing his peculiar interests in nature, perspective, the customs of his time, and the effects of light.


It should be noted that the previous monographic exhibition dedicated to the Venetian master dates back to 1963. «With this magnificent exhibition, which comes at the conclusion of discoveries and new attributions, as well as extraordinarily revealing restorations, we are now able to offer the public and scholars an updated historical-critical rereading of Carpaccio's painting and its evolution, from its beginnings and up to the late works, usually belittled by critics», says Andrea Bellieni, head of the Correr Museum.

«With these essential objectives in mind, the proven collaboration of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the National Gallery in Washington, DC, gave rise to the exhibition project at the two venues in Washington and Venice, based on a focused selection of the artist's most representative works. The intent is to trace, in both thematic and chronological terms, the rigorous development of Carpaccio's painting from an updated perspective. In this, the exhibition also benefits from a substantial nucleus of autograph drawings by the painter, author of the largest surviving corpus of early Renaissance "study" drawings», adds Chiara Squarcina, director of Museum Activities.

The exhibition also offers a truly unique opportunity to admire finally reunited, the two parts of an already accomplished and unified scene, separated under unknown circumstances in the late 18th century: the "Two Ladies" from the Correr Museum, owned in Venice by Teodoro Correr, are reunited with the "Hunting in the Lagoon," formerly in Rome in the collection of Napoleon's cardinal uncle and now in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; thus the scene with the two very elegant Venetian noblewomen in bored anticipation of their husbands' return from hunting in the lagoon with bows and “ballotte” is reformed; a psychological story told by Carpaccio with subtle sensitivity and sublime imaginative charm (the great English historian John Ruskin at the end of the nineteenth century was literally subjugated by it), painted on what was almost certainly originally a folding door leaf placed between two rooms of a refined, very private Venetian interior.

Finally, for the enthusiastic visitor, the exhibition can only continue outside the Doge's Palace, in a city itinerary that, in the footsteps of the great travelers, writers and aesthetes of the late 19th century - those who literally rediscovered Carpaccio's greatness and charm - reaches above all the painter's two masterpieces, complete and intact in their original or chosen location: the Saint Ursula cycle at the Gallerie dell'Accademia and the San Giorgio degli Schiavoni cycle in the eponymous Scuola.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Venetian Civic Museums Foundation, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Washington.

Editor-in-chief of Pleasure Assets. A professional journalist from Gargano, she holds a degree in Economic and Social Disciplines from Bocconi University in Milan. She writes about finance, economics, art, and luxury markets. Teresa has been part of We Wealth since its founding.


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