Giovanni Battista Piazzetta


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(b Venice, 13 Feb. 1683; d Venice, 29 Apr. 1754).

Venetian painter and draughtsman. After preliminary training in Venice he spent about two years in Bologna, where he was strongly influenced by G. M. Crespi. By 1705 he had returned to Venice and he spent the rest of his life there. He was one of the most individual Venetian painters of his period, his sombre and dramatic style looking back to work done a century earlier by Feti, Liss, and Strozzi. Unlike several of his leading contemporaries, he preferred to paint in oils rather than fresco; he was a notoriously slow worker, but his pictures seem fresh and spontaneous rather than laboured. He had a large family to support and although he was not without wealthy patrons (Algarotti among them) he relied much on drawings and book illustrations to earn money. As a painter he did religious and historical works and portraits, as well as some hauntingly enigmatic genre scenes that reflect his admiration for Crespi. In 1750 Piazzetta became the first director of the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, but in his last years he was eclipsed by the new generation. The young Tiepolo was greatly influenced by him, but later the influence was reversed, as Piazzetta's style became softer and lighter—more Rococo—in feeling.

Subjects: Art.

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