The poetry of light on display in Venice

John Singer Sargent

Until March 15 the Museo Correr in Venice offers an amazing journey that traces the developments of Venetian art from the 15th to the 19th century with over 130 extraordinary drawings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, one of the most important collections that cover the art and myth of Venice.

Among the Venetian drawings on display we find works of great masters ranging from the Renaissance to the 19th century, then names like Mantegna, Bellini, Giorgione and Titian, Veronese, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Piazzetta and, in addition, foreigners enchanted by the charm of Venice as Callow, Sargent, Whistler and Werner.

The endless possibilities of light are explored through a select group of preparatory drawings, quick sketches, studies and models but also finished compositions, works that offer a poetic made of lights, shadows and chiaro-scuro, shapes and movements, feelings and visions. A fascinating journey through four centuries of Venetian art, with the background of Venice as a center of artistic production but also as a source of inspiration and real subject for the works.

The exhibition opens with works by the most important masters of the Renaissance, so Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio with his Holy Conversation in a landscape, a work of great lyricism. Then, there are drawings by Dürer, Giorgione, Campagnola and Gerolamo Romanino, including a work that combines beautifully shaded effects flooded with extraordinary light, Madonna with Child, Saint Anthony, Saint Francis and a donor.

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The exhibition continues with works by Lorenzo Lotto, Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo, one of the finest artists of the Venetian Renaissance. Drawings with colored chalks by Jacopo Bassano introduce the selection of mature works of the 16th century that includes the Mocking of Christ, on of the six drawings on the life of Jesus executed multicolored chalk on blue Venetian paper. Then, follow nude studies and compositional sketches by Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and Palma il Giovane.

The happy season of 18th century in Venice is documented in all its aspects through works of great quality, most of which have never been exhibited in Italy. On display there are also masters of the Rococo as Sebastiano Ricci, Antonio Guardi and Antonio Pellegrini. By Giambattista Piazzetta are exposed the "character heads", executed with chalk and charcoal. A selection of 12 works by Giambattista Tiepolo covers almost the entire span of his activities and every aspect of his graphic production: composition studies in pen, nude drawing, caricature and a special section dedicated to landscapes.

Among the landscapes you can admire the colorful gouaches by Marco Ricci and Francesco Zuccarelli, Francesco Guardi, Bernardo Bellotto and Canaletto, including two drawings of the series of the “Fasti dogali” and a substantial core of architectural "rendering" and fantastic pictures by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

The final part of the exhibition leads the visitor into the myth, the dream that has built and spread throughout the world the romantic imagery of Venice. The exhibition ends therefore with some evocative drawings by James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent, where the light really becomes poetry.

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