Venice Art History

Venice during the Byzantine period

Venice preserves many important influences and artefacts from the Byzantine period that you can see when visiting buildings such as the Doge's Palace, the houses and the Pala D'oro, a perfect example of Byzantine style. In particular, the tradition of glass manufacturing, which has made Venice famous all over the world, shows the historical importance of the Byzantine influence from the East on the city. 

Venice during the Renaissance and Mannerism

During the Renaissance Venice became a very important center, together with Florence and Rome. Art in Venice was mostly representational. During this period, schools were very important: they were generally professional associations dedicated to saints, in honour of which artists worked.

Padua replaced Venice as the most dominant and advanced in humanistic, scientific and classical culture. Noble families such as the Vendramin, Contarini, Grimani and Venier were vital in giving a push to the development of art.

Venice during the Renaissance and Mannerism: Painting

Bellini's Pietà

Bellini's Pietà

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To discuss Renaissance art in Venice is to speak about Jacopo and Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto. The Venetian Renaissance is different from the Florence Renaissance because it runs into a period that, for many art critics, is considered to be High-Renaissance or Mannerism. It's not by chance, in fact, that many Venetian artists took inspiration from Raffaello and Michelangelo, who, according to a specific academic definition, are considered to be High-Renaissance artists.

In addition to the common religious images, Venetian paintings gave life to important artistic themes such as "the landscape", a central theme both in Vedutismo and in Romanticism. Above all, it is necessary to mention the great importance of the "schools" - mutual benefit organizations or charitable institutions that supported artists to create their masterpieces. In short, these schools did for Venice what the Medici family did for Florence, making their cities famous and loved throughout the world. 

Venice during the Renaissance and Mannerism: Architecture

Palladio's Rotonda, Vicenza

Palladio's Rotonda, Vicenza

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Venetian architecture of this period is characterized by a great number of world-famous masters, who made architectural history.

Sansovino, Sanmicheli, and above all Palladio are just a few names of the great Venetian school.




Venice during the Renaissance and Mannerism: Sculpture

Alessandro Vittoria is recognized as the greatest Venetian sculptor. He worked with Veronese, Sansovino and Palladio. Alessandro Vittoria was strongly influenced by Michelangelo and Bartolomeo Ammannati.

Vittoria's sculpture was quite different from that of Sansovino; unlike him Alessandro Vittoria preferred to give his statues a sense of movement, which expressed rhythm and elegance at the same time. The most interesting works by Vittoria are mainly bronze relieves or little marble statues like those for the altar of San Francesco della Vigna, in Venice.

Art in the 18th century

St Mark's Square by Canaletto

St Mark's Square by Canaletto

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During the 18th century the Serenissima was in a bad way, due to military and economic losses. Venice, step by step, reduced its territories. Nevertheless, painting had a formidable new growth. Private funding replaced Government funding. Glorification of the aristocracy thus replaced glorification of the Republic. In this period, important painters like Canaletto, Guardi and Tiepolo found great success.

Venetian architecture took inspiration from Andrea Palladio. A new style was created to contrast the Baroque and its skilful forms. Architecture had to be more functional, essential and based on elegance. In short, it had to be in a classical style.

The most influential spokesmen of this new artistic style were Algarotti and LodoliPalazzo Grassi-Stucky is a remarkable example. It's the most important work of Massari. It is based on the traditional concept of the Venetian palace, but according to a classical style.

Contemporary art in Venice

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice

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Venice is well known for its ancient works. The art from the period of the Serenissima is absolutely glorious. Nevertheless the city is also well-known for collecting important works from the XX° century.

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is in fact the most important museum in Italy for European and American art from the first half of the XX° century. The private collections contain works by Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Léger, Brancusi, Severini, Balla, Delaunay, Kupka, Picabia, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Klee, Magritte, Dalí and Pollock.

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