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Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Art

  • 22nd March − 14th September 2014 | Scottish National Gallery | Admission free

Characteristics of Venetian Painting

Venetian painting of the 16th century is celebrated for the variety and brilliance of its colours, which may in part reflect the ready availability of high quality pigments such as ultramarine, made from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli imported from Afghanistan. Canvas, the fabric of ship sails, was more popular as a support for paintings in Venice than elsewhere, and this may have stimulated a preference for the bold, highly visible, expressive brushwork that is such a distinctive feature of Venetian painting.

Religious art commissioned for churches, convents and for private homes still formed the bulk of art produced in this period. But, alongside this, other categories of painting became increasingly popular among Venice's more sophisticated citizens, such as mythologies, allegories and pastoral subjects. These were displayed in private palaces, bedrooms, studies and grand reception rooms.

The cosmopolitan environment of Venice also gave rise to a trend for sensual, sometimes overtly erotic paintings paintings, with much naked flesh on display.

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