Venice, Ferrara, and the Marches

Venetian painting is characterized by deep, rich colors and a strong interest in the effects of light.

1400 - 1500

Beginner's guide

Venice had everything—a stable republican government led by a Doge (“Duke”), wealth from trade, and a unique location as a gateway between Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire.

videos + essays

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Giovanni Bellini, <em>Brera Pietà</em>
Giovanni Bellini, Brera Pietà

Bellini zooms in on three figures—the Virgin Mary, Christ, and John—to create a sense of our being with them after Christ's death

Vittore Carpaccio, <em>Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge</em>
Vittore Carpaccio, Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge

A painting shows life on the Grand Canal of Venice, including Black gondoliers

Carlo Crivelli, <em>The Annunciation with Saint Emidius</em>
Carlo Crivelli, The Annunciation with Saint Emidius

What are Persian carpets, a peacock, and a cucumber doing in a painting of The Annunciation?

Do you speak Renaissance? Carlo Crivelli, <em>Madonna and Child</em>
Do you speak Renaissance? Carlo Crivelli, Madonna and Child

What do a cucumber, a fly, figures in turbans, and ancient reliefs tell us about the Madonna and Child?

Venetian glass, an introduction
Venetian glass, an introduction

Venice is famous for its glass production

Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius): inventor of the modern book
Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius): inventor of the modern book

Printing and publishing in fifteenth century Venice, the Silicon Valley of its day

Devotional confraternities (scuole) in Renaissance Venice
Devotional confraternities (scuole) in Renaissance Venice

Brotherhoods lent stability to religious and civic life. These wealthy institutions also commissioned paintings.

Saving Venice
Saving Venice

10 inches—that’s how far Venice has sunk. As sea levels and tourism rise, can this historic city survive?

Giovanni Bellini and Titian,<em>The Feast of the Gods</em>
Giovanni Bellini and Titian,The Feast of the Gods

This canvas was rolled, varnished, reworked, and revised again. A classical scene, it once hung in a study.

Andrea Mantegna, <em>San Zeno Altarpiece</em>
Andrea Mantegna, San Zeno Altarpiece

Now in Technicolor! Mantegna’s saturated paint and vivid illusionism bring the Court of Heaven to life.

Oil paint in Venice
Oil paint in Venice

Their island climate didn’t suit fresco, so the Venetians tried oils instead—these paints blend when wet.

Giovanni Bellini, <em>San Zaccaria Altarpiece</em>
Giovanni Bellini, San Zaccaria Altarpiece

Bellini opens up this painting’s space, but holds the viewer at bay. The mood is calm, solemn, and contemplative.

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