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Artists of the Venetian Painting School
Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, CaprioloVeneto – the names of these and other artists of the late Renaissance are well known to true connoisseurs of fine art. Paintings by the artists from Venice are so full of life and bright colors that they cause deep admiration even several hundred years after their creation. The secret of the appeal and popularity of these paintings lies in the Venetian school.

The formation of the Venetian school began back in the 15th century, when artists from Venice took Byzantine icons and mosaics as a model. The unique geographical location of the Republic contributed to the influx of new cultures and their mixing. Combining Byzantine and Gothic motifs, painters such as Jacopo Bellini and Paolo Veneziano got original results, which later formed the basis for the Venetian school of painting.

Located at the intersection of major trade routes and maintaining good relations with its neighbors, Venice wallowed in luxury. Gilded domes of the Byzantine-style churches neighbored upon the severe pretentiousness of Gothic temples and the elegant facades of palaces – with the azure-blue sky, warm gentle sun and sea in the background. Such a breeding ground fructified: artists working in the late Renaissance were the true sons of Venice. In their works, they glorified the beauty of their beloved city, in contrast to the Roman and Florentine painters, who preferred the antique theme, which back then was in vogue.

In order to depict the reality surrounding them extremely accurately, the founders of the Venetian school of painting used oil paint, which maintained its strong color in the humid climate of Venice. Experimenting with colors, the Venetians developed the principles of coloristics and painting, which were later adopted by representatives of other schools. The artists worked in drawing and chiaroscuro techniques while shaping objects and characters, using colored paint only as a top layer.

Those were the Venetian artists of the late Renaissance who perfected the technique of applying smears of oil paint: the surface of the finished painting looked perfectly flat, as if covered with colored enamel. While the Dutch painters who invented the oil painting technique used it to create works full of spirituality and religious reverence, the Venetians preferred to openly declare the living corporeality of all things, emphasizing it with tonal transitions and the play of light and shadow. They used scenes from urban life as subjects for their works, painted portraits of wealthy Venetians and views of architectural ensembles.

Famous painters of the late Renaissance

By the middle of the 16th century, the Republic of Venice faced an economic crisis. Besides, there was an increasing influence of the feudal-Catholic reaction all over the country, which together led to a fundamental rethinking of the role of people in the world around us, as well as the loss of ideals declaring harmony and integrity of the universe. In the works by the painters of the Venetian school of the second half of the 16th century, the image of the hero gradually gave way to that of the crowd. Despite this, individual artists continued to follow the ideals of humanism, embodying them in their works.

One of the first representatives of the Venetian school of painting, in whose work the secular basis prevailed over the religious one, was Giorgione. He took plots for his paintings from literature and mythology, focusing not on the storyline, but on the emotions that accompany the actions of the characters, and the feelings the picture evokes in its viewers. Masterfully using transparent and bright colors, Giorgione created extremely beautiful paintings. He became the first artist to portray a naked woman without any plot: his Sleeping Venus is filled with peace and tranquility.

Paolo Veronese's teacher was his uncle Badile, an artist from Venice. His artistic style was also influenced by the Verona and Raphael schools of painting. Artfully combining the Verona coloristics, Raphael's freedom and Venetian liveliness, Veronese created works which included light theatrical pathos, festive mood and admiration for the beauty of the surrounding world. The characters of his paintings are ordinary: they don't have the greatness and inner strength that were inherent in the artistic images of that era. Particular attention should be given to his frescoes, created with the use of the optical illusion technique: a painted door, a landscape in the annular space, etc.

The Venetian school of painting gave the world one more genius – Tintoretto. His teachers were the Venetian Titian and the Florentine Michelangelo. The first one taught the young Tintoretto, while the works of the second one served as his source of inspiration. By combining the individual elements of each style, the painter developed his own one: his works are characterized by a free manner of painting, the predominance of warm saturated colors, the arrangement of a lively and dramatic composition, and a mild use of light and shadow. Tintoretto's creative heritage includes wall panels, paintings on religious and mythological subjects and portraits.

The Arthive has prepared for you a selection of works by the painters of the Venetian school, whose heyday was in the late Renaissance.