Alessandro Piazza (Venice 1652/1665-1727 Rome) The departure of the Bucintoro on Ascension Day, Venice, oil on canvas, 163 x 232 cm, framed ÜBERLANGTEXT
Private European collection
We are grateful to Dario Succi for suggesting the attribution of the present painting.
The present composition is dominated by the Bucintoro as floats into the Bacino di San Marco in Venice towards the Lido on the day of the Sensa (or Ascension). This annual event, among the most important of the year, was held in memory of the naval victory of Doge Pietro Orseolo over the Dalmatian pirates which, according to the tradition, occurred on Ascension Day of the year 998. Subsequently the ceremony was enriched with the ritual of the marriage to the sea, which took place at the opening of the Lido where the Doge would throw the ring, blessed by the patriarch, into the sea to symbolise the union between Venice and the Adriatic. In the present canvas the Bucintoro is at the centre of the scene surrounded by a cortege of richly coloured vessels, while the cannons of the galley ships moored in the lagoon beyond offer a full gun salute. The Bucintoro represented here is that of 1606 decked out in carved ornament, executed by the sculptors from Bassano, Agostino and Marcantonio Vanini.
This work with its lively palette, together with the full-bodied and vigorous rendering of the figures show the influence by the work of Joseph Heintz the Younger, Alessandro Piazza stands out as an artist distinguished by his fluid and swift handling of the media, capable of conducting engaging narrative compositions, aided by his ability to detail and chronicle lively episodes from Venetian life, in a manner such as to lay the foundations for a genre that would subsequently be fully developed by Luca Carlevarijs (1663–1730).
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