Young Girl with a Basket of Apples
34.29 cm x 28.58 cm (13 1/2 in. x 11 1/4 in.)
Giovanni Battista Piazzetta
(Venice, Italy, 1682 - 1754, Venice, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Like the art of Ricci, Piazzetta’s represents an alternative to the formulae of the Late Baroque and a source of 18th-century Venetian painting. It is, however, opposite in temper and direction. Trained in Bologna, Piazzetta brought back to Venice a naturalism based upon systematic drawing, featuring an intense chiaroscuro, and concerned with dramatic expression. He then reconciling this approach with the mobile light and personalized brushwork of his native tradition, while resisting its bright color and decorative values. He would never undertake the monumental decorative projects that were the staple of the age, and unlike his compatriots who mastered that genre, he never worked outside of Venice. But his religious works possess an optical intensity and a visionary power that are equal to the greatest works the early Baroque.
Two of Piazzetta’s special researches are reflected in this delightful picture. First, it relates in subject to the pastoral and genre scenes, which, when essayed on a large scale, possess a startling theatricality and an ambiguous psychology (opposite to that of Ceruti’s Peasant Girl, to the right). Second, the picture relates to Piazzetta’s lifelong study of plastic form and personality through “character studies”—black chalk drawings of bust-length types as well as individuals. (The Suida-Manning Collection includes one of the earliest and finest of these studies, among three drawings by the artist.) On this modest scale, with an unencumbered pursuit of momentary response, the picture approaches the vivaciousness and charm of a contemporary like Fragonard.