Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

Dates1682 - 1754

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta "did not care greatly for honors and neither for his own interest. He lived in love with his art," wrote his publisher. Piazzetta established himself by creating art utterly different from that of his Venetian contemporaries. Instead of spontaneous improvisation, intense color palettes, and decorative effects--often in the popular fresco medium--Piazzetta worked slowly in almost monochromatic oils, creating religious canvases and enigmatic genre pictures. "He is a snail," said a Swedish visitor.

His sculptor father probably introduced Piazzetta to art. Study with Giuseppe Maria Crespi in Bologna likely ignited his fascination with somber, dramatic effects and his interest in genre painting. Piazzetta emulated Crespi by portraying common people. By the 1740s he owned an active studio concentrating on church commissions and genre scenes.

Piazzetta's renowned drawings of half-length figures and heads documented the people of Venice. Traditionally, Venetian painters did not consider drawings as independent works of art, but Piazzetta created a new art form, giving drawing a status equal to painting in importance and quality. After being appointed director of the newly founded academy Scuola di Nudo (School of the Nude) in 1750, Piazzetta devoted himself to teaching.