[A quick and loose translation from a recent piece in El País.]
The Piazza San Marco, the Ducal Palace, the Temple of Santa Maria of the Salvation, gondolas plying under the bridge of the Academy… Few cities seduce as much as Venice. And at no time has La Serenissima been portrayed with as much fascination as during the Settecento, the Italian 18th century. The Venetian republic faced the decline of its fortunes, but the arts exploded in a spectacular blaze. More than 350 artists flourished at the time, of which more than a hundred are considered of the first rank. Tiepolo, Canaletto, Ricci, Guardi, Cimaroli are some of the best known names, but there were many more.
On 25 March 2009, La Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid opened an exhibition of the finest works of the Venetian Settecento. Titled From Baroque to Neoclassicism, and sponsored by the Fundación Banco Santander, fifty-seven paintings are on display, as well as authentic jewellery of the period. 80% of the artworks, from private collections and public foundations, have never been exhibited in Spain, and indeed most have never left Italy before.
The curator, Analisa Scarpa, explains that this is the most complete exhibition ever in Spain dedicated to the Settecento. “It was a period of renewal of the formulation of painting. Light and colour enter the process during this period as never before.”