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The Sensuality of Venetian art

It’s all about the light and colour

View on the Cannaregio Canal, Venice

Their untrammelled genius is not overburdened with thought, nothing about them reveals any anxiety as to the interior life, and finally, as goes without saying, they did not trouble themselves about historical accuracy. The truth they sought to attain was that of colour, reflection, light, and shade, bold foreshortening, transparency of atmosphere, and the power of contrast. Pompeo Molmenti, Venice, 1926

If you had to pick out what sets Venetian art and architecture apart it would have to be its sensual immediacy: it demands little from the intellect, but everything from that tremulous bridge between the eye and the heart. Light is its ruling deity.

Giovanni Bellini and Titian pre-Impressionistically smeared oil paints with their fingers to diffuse the light in their canvases. Seascapes by Guardi dissolved into pure light. Even the architects took account of the light reflecting off the water when designing a church or palace.

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History and Anecdotes

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Francesco Guardi