Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Venetian Masterpieces from Vienna at De Young Museum

Last December, I visited the Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna at De Young Museum in San Francisco.

I have visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna many years ago but the biggest impressions I gained from that visit were made more by the collections from Dutch, Flemish and German masters such as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Vermeer, Rembrandt, etc. and the salt cellar, Saliera, by Benvenuto Cellini, which was stolen on May 11, 2003and was covered on January 21, 2006, according to Wikipedia.  That of course, did not mean that I wasn't moved or impressed by 16th-century Venetian paintings (Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto), or 17th-century Flemish painting (Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck).  If my chief impression was on those northern masters, it was due to the incredible richness of the collection that museum boasted.

I was deeply grateful that I had an unhurried experience of viewing their collections of Venetian Masters.  There are too many wonderful paintings at De Young but if I attempt, I would name Titian, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Veronese as my favorites, naturally, all those usual suspects.

De Young Museum provided a nice online preview of the exhibit.  Since some images they lists are my favorites, I'll cite them below:

Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian. Danaë, ca. 1560. Oil on canvas

Titian. Portrait of Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, ca. 1534-1536. Oil on canvas

Titian, Portrait of Johann Frederich, Elector of Saxony, 1548-1551. Oil on canvas

Paolo Caliari, called Veronese, Lucretia, ca. 1580–1583. Oil on canvas

Paolo Caliari, called Veronese. Judith with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1580. Oil on canvas

Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto, Susanna and the Elders, ca. 1555-1556. Oil on canvas

Giorgio da Castelfranco, called Giorgione. Youth with an Arrow, ca. 1508–1510. Oil on panel

True to their reputations, the sense of colors and the freedom of their painterly brushes were exhilarating and ravishing to behold.  

A few more thoughts: 

1) I love Veronese's Lucretia but Titian outdid him.  Veronese's was too calm and demur while Titian's were absolutely wounded and grieving, which was also included in this exhibit:


 2) I made a day-trip to Venice from Florence in 2000, especially to see Giorgione's The Tempest (c. 1507-1508, 82 x 73 cm, Oil on Canvas), in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, which was as enigmatic as it was beautiful:

[Wikipedia image, in US public domain]

3) I have seen so many Titian paintings and I cannot remember where I saw which wonderful pieces.  For Veronese, I will always associate him with "The Feast in the House of Levi", which also locates in the Gallerie dell'Accademia:

The Feast in the House of Levi (1573), 555 cm x 1280 cm (219 in x 500 in), Oil on canvas
[Wikipedia image, in US public domain]

This special exhibit will end on 12 February 2012 and I strongly recommend it.  It's an unforgettable exhibit.

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