Color Can Be So Seductive

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Titian, “Madonna and Child with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Dominic, and a Donor,” circa 1513, oil on canvas, 54 x 72 1/2 in. (c) Fondazione Magnani Rocca 2017

A current exhibition on view through February 12 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see for yourself how and why this Renaissance city was renowned for its seductive colors — both in reality and through the monumental artists who called it their home. Can you name it?

It’s not surprising that Venice, Italy, is renowned for much more than its unique geographic location, food, and iconic gondolas. Indeed, for centuries scholars, aristocrats, royalty, and — of course — artists have all become enamored with the jewel-like colors that dance off the city’s canals and pastel-colored buildings. Nearly all the artists who called “The Floating City” home are noted for their use and mastery of color, especially with regard to Renaissance masters, including the Bellini family, the Bassano family, Giorgione, and Titian — to name just a few.

Giovanni Bellini, “Annunciation,” circa 1500, oil on canvas, 88 x 42 in. (c) Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice 2017
Giovanni Bellini, “Annunciation,” circa 1500, oil on canvas, 88 x 42 in. (c) Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice 2017

The splendor of Renaissance Venice and the magnificent artists it produced are the subjects of a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition currently on view at the Denver Art Museum. On view through February 12, “Glory of Venice: Masterworks of the Renaissance” includes a number of spectacular paintings by Titian, Giovanni Bellini, and Giorgione that have rarely — if ever — been exhibited in the United States.

Vittore Carpaccio, “Annunciation,” 1504, oil on canvas, 50 x 54 3/4 in. (c) Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’d’Oro, Venice 2017
Vittore Carpaccio, “Annunciation,” 1504, oil on canvas, 50 x 54 3/4 in. (c) Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’d’Oro, Venice 2017

Spanning the mid-1400s through the early 1500s, “‘Glory of Venice’ emphasizes how masters during this period — whose sensitivity toward color and light remained unparalleled for centuries — veered from traditional techniques and began using oil paint to experiment with depth, emotion, and dimension in their work,” the museum writes. “‘Glory of Venice’ features about 50 significant works, and provides visitors with a rare opportunity to experience 19 artworks from Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia, which houses one of the greatest collections of Venetian Renaissance in the world. Additional masterworks on view include paintings on loan from the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, and the Fondazione Magnani Rocca in Parma, Italy, as well as signature paintings in the DAM’s collection.”

To learn more, visit the Denver Art Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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