Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints Joseph, John the Evangelist, and Andrew
57.15 cm x 41.91 cm (22 1/2 in. x 16 1/2 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 a fundamental alternative to the dilemmas of the Late Baroque and a source of 18th-century Venetian painting. It is, however, opposite in temper and direction. Trained in Bologna under Crespi, Piazzetta brought back to Venice a naturalism based upon systematic drawing, featuring an intense chiaroscuro, and concerned with dramatic expression. Translating this conception into the mobile light and personalized brushwork of the indigenous tradition, while largely rejecting its bright color and decorative values, Piazzetta brought new life and power to the formulae that had grown so tired. He would never engage in 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 of the early Baroque.
This is Piazzetta’s preparatory study for an altarpiece for the church of Sant’Andrea in Cortona, which was commissioned in 1739, and delivered in 1744 (and later moved to the church of San Filippo). Characteristic are the strong dynamic of its diagonal structure with a low viewpoint and the striking plasticity of its day lit brushwork against a dark ground. Even on this scale, one can gather the strength and solemnity of the work to come.