Day 19: Venezia art

We are minutes away from the Accademia bridge that crosses the Grand Canal into the small square in front of the Accademia gallery. I bought tickets the day before but since I had no printer, I opted for the pick up at the gallery.

Picking up tickets required getting into the same queue as people who want to buy tickets. I had to wait at least 15 minutes which made me wonder what the advantage was to buying in advance. I guess I would not get turned away if there were too many visitors. Not that the gallery was too busy.

Looked at some favourites and looked more closely at some works I had not paid much attention to before like Cima.

The Accademia has some of the few extant Jacopo Bellini works, lots of Giovanni Bellini and some of the best Gentile Bellini. Gentile’s big paintings of events from Venetian history, some legendary, were being restored and not on display.

Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini

The Gallery has some of the best of Venetian High and Late Renaissance works. Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto dominate as the great Late Renaissance artists from Venice and the Veneto. Every museum in the region must have their works to be seriously considered an art museum. Hyperbole likes to claim a rivalry amongst Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese but such a conflict is disputed by some scholars.


Titian, in English, Tiziano Vecelli or Vecellio in Italian, was born on the mainland in Pieve di Cardore. His birth year is uncertain, likely around 1488 to 1490. He died in 1576, well into his late 80s, although some think he was in his late 90s. His long career shows his versatility and dramatically changing style.

His use of colour and his brushwork profoundly influenced subsequent art. He started his studies with Gentile Bellini and then later with Giovanni Bellini. He worked with Giorgione and for a short time trained Tintoretto.


Tintoretto was born Jacopo Robusti (1518 or 1519 – 1594) He became known for the speed with which he painted and the unprecedented boldness to his brushwork which gave him the nickname Il Furioso (The Furious). His work, in the Mannerist style, is characterised by muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective.

He worked almost entirely in Venice. He was prolific, helped by the speed with which he worked, but also because of his ambition to be both famous, wealthy and socially acknowledged; which he achieved.

Detail of a Veronese painting

Paolo Caliari (1528-1588), known as Paolo Veronese, was a Renaissance painter born in Verona (thus his popular name) but based in Venice, known for extremely large history paintings of religion and mythology, such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast in the House of Levi.

Veronese dog

Veronese worked for many upper middle class patrons including them in paintings of religious subjects with the goal of improving their chances of going to heaven and to show off to the neighbours.

Giorgione would be among the Venetian Renaissance greats had he not died so young. Born Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco sometime between 1473 to 1478, he died in 1510. His name sometimes appears as Zorzo; the variant Giorgione (or Zorzon) may be translated “Big George”. He is believed to have trained with Giovanni Bellini likely at the same time as Titian. He and Titian worked together and Titian finished some of Giorgione’s paintings after his death, although which paintings remains controversial. Only about six surviving paintings are firmly attributed to him. The Accademia contains The Tempest of which the uncertainty about the identity and meaning of this work has made it a source of debate and Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European art.

Together with Titian, he is credited with founding Venetian Renaissance painting, characterised by its use of colour and mood.

The gallery also includes later painters such as Tiepolo and the sculptor Antonio Canova (1754-1822) one of the few non-Renaissance artists whose works in Venice I am looking forward to seeing. Canova is considered the greatest Neoclassical sculptor of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He and the painter Jacques Louis David are credited with ushering in a new aesthetic of clear, regularized form and calm repose inspired by classical antiquities. He is also known for his refined marble surfaces, which seemed as supple as real flesh.

Canova was born in northern Italy in the small town of Possagno in 1757 to a family of sculptors and stonecutters. His early training was in Venice and by 1781, established a studio in Rome. He worked for popes as well as Napoleon during the turbulent years post the French Revolution and the Napoleonic empire.

We mostly breezed by the 17th and 18th century works. The Accademia is not too big to take in on one visit but even my feet were getting tired.

The Tiepolo room

We found a nearby restaurant that was very busy but able to squeeze us into their courtyard area. The day started rainy but by mid-afternoon, the sun was shining through the clouds.

We had no plans for the rest of the afternoon didn’t get up to anything worth writing about.

For dinner, we returned to the same area as the Accademia but on the Giudecca Canal side.

We dined at Ristorante Adriatica which has a more modern not very Venetian look.

Food there takes a modern twist on Venetian cuisine.


Scott had chicken with spinach and fava beans; mine was monkfish with artichokes spinach and tomato confit

There was a huge boat parked outside the restaurant door.

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