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Venetian Painting

Venetian Painting

Author: Ian McConnell

Recognize visual aspects of Venetian paintings during the Renaissance.

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Hello. I would like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell. And today's lesson is about Venetian painting. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as often as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives, or the things you're going to learn today, are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you will be able to compare Titian's use of color to define forms with that the Florentine practice and identify examples of Venetian painting. The big idea for today, is that Venetian painters like Titian used color to define the forms of their paintings.

So we'll be looking at the years covering 1520 to 1538, and once again, the voyage of Columbus in 1492, just has a reference point. Once again, we're traveling today to Italy, but this time to the picturesque city of Venice, Italy. So Venice, like Florence, was a republic during this time and was a major trading destination and naval force with its strategic location on the water. Now as to whether the effects of the Italian sun and all that water had any influence on the Venetian school of painters, I can't say. But the use of color is something strongly associated with this school of painters.

And one of them, the artist, Titian, created a body of work that defined this type of painting and established himself as one of the preeminent painters of the Italian Renaissance. Now Titian's work is often categorized into three types of painting, portraits, religious, and mythological, as in this example titled "The Meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne." Now notice how the color is used to define the figures. And this is the defining characteristic of Venetian painters, who differed from their Florentine counterparts in how they used color to define forms and create a sense of luminosity, as opposed to the Florentine emphasis on contour and contrast of light and shadow to define form.

Now personally, I feel that the Venetian painters' their use of bright colors creates a more engaging composition, but again, that's a personal preference. However, a sense of vibrancy definitely exists due to the color and the playfulness of the subject matter. Now in this scene, Bacchus arrives on a leopard drawn chariot, which is awesome, and appears to leap out of the chariot towards the figure of Ariadne.

Now notice how Titian uses color to create the extremely convincing satinesque sheen of Bacchus's robe. It draws your attention to the central character. And the painting is full of playful imagery, like the tiny fawn in the foreground, and the advancing entourage behind Bacchus. Now in a nod to a recently rediscovered statue at that time titled "Laocoon and His Sons," Titian includes a figure of a bearded man entwined in snakes, which you can see in the foreground right behind the fawn. Just as in the central figure of the statue, "Laocoon and His Sons," that you can see here, that originated in Hellenistic Greece.

Titian was in great demand as a portrait painter as well. And this portrait is of the prominent Renaissance woman, Isabella d'Este, the daughter of the Duke of Ferrara. Now, it was actually painted when Isabella was in her 60s, but she's depicted as a youth in her 20s. Now the focus here is on her face and hands, which Titian achieves by blending the black of her clothing into the background, resulting in an enhanced luminosity of her face. And the highly detailed sleeves of her clothing draw your attention to her hands. Now the entire composition evokes a sense of poise, the experience of age expressed in the body of a young woman.

Now this painting, later titled "The Venus of Urbino," has come to define the category of the reclining nude female, but was itself inspired by an earlier painting of a sleeping Venus by the Venetian painter, Giorgione, which you can see here. Now, it was a commission from the eventual Duke of Urbino for his own private enjoyment. And we appear to be privy to a rather private seen, as her attendants are searching for clothing in the background. The seductive Venus who is partially concealed by what appears to be a velvet curtain makes eye contact with the viewer. And Titian's use of deep reds and ivories help to enhance the impression of a pinkish hue emanating from her skin.

That brings us to the end of this lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives again to see if we met them. Now you've seen this lesson, are you able to compare Titian's use of color to define forms with that of the Florentine practice and identify examples of Venetian painting? And once again, the big idea for today is that Venetian painters like Titian used color to define the forms of their paintings.

And that's it. Thank you very much for joining me today. I'll see you next time.