How walking in Venice can feel like being in a painting
As we were walking around Venice at sunset, we got struck once again by the quality of the light, the warmth of the colors and the dreamy atmosphere, and it made us feel like being in one of those ancient paintings… wait, what? Did we just invert the causal relationship?! Shouldn’t the painting make you feel like “being there”, rather than the “reality” make you feel like being in a painting?
If the causal relationship could be inverted in our minds, it is thanks to the amazing quality achieved by Venetian painters through centuries of studies and expertise.
The way Venetians painted evolved across time to get as close as possible to the atmosphere of Venice
What shaped the Venetian painting techniques the most, are the city itself and its economy. The atmosphere of Venice, a city on the water with a constant and pregnant humidity, paired with techniques and colors acquired from all over the known world thanks to the incredible trades network, influenced greatly the artistic works of Venetian painters.
Traditional paints and ways of painting were progressively left out to explore better-suited colors
Giovanni Bellini in particular, in 1460s-70s, combined the oil painting technique from Northern Europe with exotic pigments from the East. This new technique, which delivers fine gradations and stays translucent, soon replaced the use of tempera paint, which produced flat and opaque surfaces, less suited to the representation of the shiny and humid atmosphere of Venice.
One color was never enough to make a painting look like the real Venice
Venetian painters would work by building up layer upon layer of oil paint, which would dry very slowly, giving time to the artist to blend colors, achieving subtle gradations. But there is an even bigger secret about the Venetian painters…
Even though oil paint naturally gives a translucent and shiny effect, studies have found that Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian added glass to their pigments for reflecting the light even better!
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