Gerson Digital : Italy


3.4 The Importance of the Dutch for Venice in the 18th Century

Before we follow our itinerant artists to other cities in Northern Italy, a word must be said about the continuation of the Dutch tradition in Venice in the 18th century. It is all too tempting to consider the ‘artistic’ culture of Venice in combination with painterly Baroque art from north of the Alps, to rashly see ‘Venice casting a fond eye northwards’ or the ‘Italians flirting with Rembrandt’ in Venice and therefore to infer a dependence on Dutch models. However, if we refuse to be deluded by a general relatedness between the two and concentrate instead on the clearly recognisable Dutch stylistic elements that were assimilated, traces of Dutch influence are few and far between in the flourishing art of Venice.1

Mention has already been made of the paintings Strozzi made in the manner of Rembrandt.2 There is little reason to doubt that he consciously adopted some aspects of Rembrandt’s style, the more so since he looked to other artists for inspiration during his time in Genoa. The artistic manner of Pietro della Vecchia (1602/3-1678), on the other hand, which strikes us as Rembrandtesque, is in fact a final manifestation of the style of Giorgione, which was passed on to him by his conservative teacher Padovanino [1].3 Vittore Ghislandi (1655-1743) from Bergamo, who worked in Venice for a number of years, copied Rembrandt’s Florentine self-portrait (Dresden, no. 547) [2],4 but this does not imply that his portraits were in any way Dutch-influenced. The Dutch approach is most readily apparent in his self-portrait by candlelight, which can be seen as a deliberate challenge to Godefridus Schalcken and Johann Kupezky [3].5 He may have intended the brownish backgrounds of his portraits and the capricious garments worn by his models to be ‘Rembrandt-like’, but his colours and painting technique were anything but. He probably passed on this ‘Rembrandtesque’ style to his pupil, Bartolommeo Nazari (1693-1758). Study heads, in particular, make it clear that Rembrandt was seen here through the eyes of fine-painters à la Denner [4-5].6 A contemporary called them ‘ teste, depinta con tanta forza sull’elegante e singular maniera del Reimbrandt’ (heads painted with great vigour in the unique and elegant manner of Rembrandt).7 Giuseppe Nogari (1699-1766), an artist of his generation, provides a notable example of chiaroscuro painting in the manner of Rembrandt that is associated with the fine-painting of a later period. He almost always uses artificial light, thereby reproducing Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro in a manner as superficial as that of the fine-painters putting wrinkles on faces in ‘Dutch Realism’. This style proved especially popular in Germany and it therefore comes as no surprise to find so many paintings by Nogari in such a long-established German collection as the one in Dresden (fig. 18/55) [6-7].8

attributed to Pietro della Vecchia
canvas, oil paint 84 x 68 cm
Milan/London, private collection Luigi Koelliker, inv./ LK 0676

Vittore Ghislandi after Rembrandt
Copy after Rembrandt's self-portrait in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, c. 1709
canvas, oil paint 72 x 58 cm
Dresden, Königliche Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden, inv./ 48a; 547

Vittore Ghislandi
Self-portrait of Vittore Ghislandi (1655-1743), dated 1732
canvas, oil paint 73 x 58 cm
lower right : Frat. Victor Ghisl / Berg.s se pinxit 1732
Bergamo, Pinacoteca dell'Accademia Carrara, inv./ 58AC00348

Bartolomeo Nazari
Old man in an eastern attire, first half of 18th century
canvas, oil paint 53.5 x 43.1 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, inv./ ŁKr 890

Bartolomeo Nazari
Old man with a beret with a feather, between 1745-1750
paper, etching (printing process) 203 x 148 mm
lower center : B.N.F.
Bergamo, Pinacoteca dell'Accademia Carrara

Giuseppe Nogari
Scientist, in or before 1743
canvas, oil paint 75.5 x 59.5 cm
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 590

Giuseppe Nogari
Old woman warming her hands, in or before 1743
panel (nut), oil paint 59 x 43 cm
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 592

Returning now to Bologna to pursue a different line of development we come across the extraordinary figure of Giuseppe Maria Crespi (1665-1747), who offers renewed evidence of an affinity between Dutch and Italian art. His contemporaries noted that he had assimilated many features of the style of Titian, Tintoretto, Rembrandt and Rubens.9 This enumeration in itself indicates that the influence of Rembrandt, which was thought to have been reflected in Crespi’s treatment of light and shade [8], was not the overriding factor in his art. The chiaroscuro he used could be attributed in part to the Bambocciate, but we know that the art of Gian Antonio Burrini (1656-1727) art also made a strong impression on him. The impact of Rembrandt’s work is perhaps most noticeable in his prints.10

Giambattista Piazzetta (1682-1754) from Venice was apprenticed to Crespi in Bologna and adopted his ‘Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro’ [9-10].11 Johann Liss and Rembrandt were his teachers, or so it was said, and a series of etchings ‘sul gusto di Rembrandt’ has even been attributed to him.12 In any event, the dense, sombre chiaroscuro of the Rembrandt school was transformed in Venice into the light, bright Rococo of the 18th century. Relations with Rembrandt were of a very general kind, always maintaining a latent presence, as it were, in Venetian art. Strictly speaking, Rembrandt’s style was transposed to a different sphere in Venice.

Giuseppe Maria Crespi
Young Man with a Helmet, c. 1725-1730
canvas, oil paint 64 x 51.5 cm
Kansas City (Missouri), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, inv./ 44-45

Giambattista Piazzetta
Portrait of a Young Man in Oriental Costume, c. 1740
canvas, oil paint 81.3 x 62.2 cm
Tucson (Arizona), University of Arizona Museum of Art, inv./ 1961.013.024

Giambattista Piazzetta
Portrait of Giulia Lama (1681-1747), c. 1720
canvas, oil paint 69.4 x 55.5 cm
Madrid (Spain), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, inv./ 316 (1966.11)

This does not exclude the possibility of individual motifs being taken over from Dutch art, however, as is evident from the works of Jacopo Amigoni (1682/5-1752)13 and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804), for example [11-13].14 The great Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) appears to have avoided such borrowings [14-15].15 The two series of head studies Domenico etched after drawings and paintings by Giambattista look for the most part more Rembrandtesque than the originals.16 The studies of Rembrandt to be found so often in prints may have proved a source of inspiration to both father and son. On the other hand, the beautiful light colours in Tiepolo’s painted work are a world apart from the sombre seriousness of Rembrandt’s paintings.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo after Rembrandt
The Deposition
paper, pen, brown ink 487 x 375 mm
lower right : Dom Tiepolo f
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ RF 1713.BIS, 33

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo after Rembrandt
The Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross, c. 1755-1760
canvas, oil paint 64.2 x 42.5 cm
London (England), National Gallery (London), inv./ NG1333

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo after Rembrandt
The Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross, c. 1750-1760
canvas, oil paint 80 x 89.2 cm
London (England), National Gallery (London), inv./ NG5589

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Head of old man with a beard
canvas, oil paint 60 x 50 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, inv./ 1947-16

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Head of a Philosopher, c. 1740-1745
canvas, oil paint 34.6 x 28.5 cm
San Diego (California), San Diego Museum of Art, inv./ 1950.112

Traces of Dutch influence can be detected in the works of Northern Italian landscape painters.17 Their vedute and, in particular, their colouring skills were greatly admired in the 18th century and their small, intimate works were much appreciated in Venice.18 Paintings and drawings by Dutch landscape artists will have been preserved in sufficient numbers in Italy and Berchem’s prints were even reproduced in Venice and published there by Joseph Wagner (1706-1780) [16].19 Marco Ricci (1676-1729),20 the ‘founder of the Northern Italian-Venetian landscape’ travelled a great deal. He was in Holland as well as in England, where Dutch landscape paintings were widespread.21 He was initially influenced by the energetic style of Salvator Rosa, Alessandro Magnasco and Pieter Mulier22 It was only his idyllic portrayal of landscapes that brought him closer to the Dutch. This style is more readily apparent in etchings after original drawings, although a painted landscape like that of a winter scene in Dresden [17] is also a good example of the continuing influence of late Dutch landscape art in the manner of Herman Saftleven.23

Francesco Zuccarelli (1702-1788)24 received his training in Rome and Florence under Paolo Monaldi and Andrea Locatelli, both of whom drew his attention to the Arcadian style of Claude Lorrain and Caspard Dughet. It was Marco Ricci in Venice, however, who encouraged him to employ a freer technique, which made him receptive to the work of Dutch artists. In 1764 he was said to be an ‘eccellente paesista sul gusto fiammingo’ [an excellent landscapist in the Flemish manner].25 However, this Flemish (i.e. Dutch) style only really found expression in his little staffage figures which are occasionally reminiscent of Berchem and Wouwerman [18]. Seldom did he paint a tranquil landscape in the Dutch style like the winter scene à la Saftleven, which is in a collection in Venice.26 His mixed Dutch-Venetian style later made him very successful in England, which he probably visited twice. This Arcadian tendency was continued by his pupil, Giuseppe Zais (1709-1781). He was more cursory and flexible than his teacher, which explains why his work often bore a greater resemblance to the ‘precursor of Rococo’, Nicolaes Berchem, than that of his teacher ever did [19-20].27 His landscapes were not so deeply rooted in the tradition of Claude, often being more reminiscent of the vague and airy manner of Jan Both [21]. It should not be forgotten that Zuccarelli and Zais lived in Venice at the time of Francesco Guardi, when the painterly trend was at its peak.28

Joseph Wagner after Nicolaes Berchem
Rough is my sound but it it still allures and pleases
paper, etching (printing process) 365 x 477 mm
lower center : Rozzo è il mio [...] alletta, e piace
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./ JWagner AB 2.132

Marco Ricci
Winter landscape, c. 1725
canvas, oil paint 101 x 146 cm
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 557

Francesco Zuccarelli
Garden Party, after 1762
canvas, oil paint 42.2 x 67 cm
Toulouse, foundation (organization) Fondation Bemberg, inv./ 1045

Giuseppe Zais
Rural landscape with peasants and animals
paper, pen in brown ink, grey wash 404 x 314 mm
Bonhams (London (England)) 2012-05-02, nr. 244

Giuseppe Zais
River landscape with fishermen and shepherds, c. 1740
canvas, oil paint 97 x 143 cm
Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia Venezia

Giuseppe Zais
Italianate Wooded Landscape
canvas, oil paint 75.5 x 95 cm
Bridport (Dorset), Bridport Museum, inv./ BRPMG 326

It can be generally assumed that 17th century Dutch art, which boasted such prominent figures as Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Ruisdael and Berchem, was consistently regarded as a welcome source of inspiration in the development of a freer artistic style. When the spotlight is put on other artists, however, Dutch painting can be seen to have had the reverse effect. When Canaletto (1697-1768) arrived in England in 1746, his style of painting underwent a marked change, probably at the request of his clients, and his work suffered as a result. The clear Dutch colours and the down-to-earth drawings of a van der Heyden made Canaletto’s portrayals look like stereotyped topographical reproductions – and this was just after the freer approach to painting he had adopted had enabled him to surpass the vedute of the Dutch artist Caspar van Wittel (c. 1653-1737).29 In the year Canaletto was born, van Wittel was in Venice, proof of which is provided by the painting in Madrid dated 1697 [22]. When Canaletto arrived in Rome in 1719, van Wittel had left Naples to return to the city, where he held a prestigious position. Hence there is no need to assume that there was any mediation on the part of Luca Carlevaris (1663-1730) to see that Canaletto’s vedute paintings had their origins in van Wittel. In his drawings, too, Canaletto took over technical features from the Dutch artist, who in turn had learned them from Claude.30 Carlevaris [23], for his part, may have become familiar with van Wittel’s style in both Venice and Rome, where he stayed as a young man. An early work of his, which recently came to light after being discovered in the holdings of the museum in Modena [24], shows that even as a young man he had assimilated a great deal of the Dutch-oriented vedute painting tradition in Venice, the best-known representative of which was the younger Joseph Heintz (c. 1600-1678).31

Caspar van Wittel
View of Venice from the Island of San Giorgio, dated 1697
canvas, oil paint 98 x 174 cm
lower right : Gas. V. W. 1697
Madrid (Spain), Museo Nacional del Prado, inv./ P000475

Luca Carlevaris
The official entry of Henri-Charles Arnauld de Pomponne, known as the Abbé de Pomponne, into Venice as French ambassador on 10 May 1706, 1706-1707
canvas, oil paint 128.5 x 255 cm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ SK-C-1612

Joseph Heintz (II)
The boat race at the Rialto Bridge
canvas, oil paint 135 x 192 cm
lower right : LCV
Modena, Galleria Estense, inv./ 2937


1 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On the critical fortune of Rembrandt in 18th-century Venice: Linders 1990; Meijer 1991A, p. 97-98.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] See above, p. 185 [= § 3.3].

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Venturi 1913, p. 284 draws the line of development: Giorgione (following) – Caravaggio – Rembrandt.

4 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Destroyed during the bombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945 (Bernhard/Martin/Rogner 1965, p. 96). Meijer 2003. On Fra’ Galgario (=Vittore/Giuseppe Ghislandi): Rossi et al. 2003-2004.

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] The self-portrait of Francesco Trevisani (1656-1747) in Pommersfelden is executed in a smooth Rembrandt-style, different from the rest of his work.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Examples in Bergamo (Ricci 1918, p. 101), collection Lazienski, Warsaw, etc. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] A painting of an Old Woman in Bergamo, formally considered as a work by Nazari, is now attributed to Giuseppe Nogari (RKDimages 295884).

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] Tassi 1793, vol. 2, p. 93.

8 [Gerson 1942/1983] In Meusel’s miscellanea a painting by Nogari in the ‘Grauen Kloster’ in Berlin is described as ‘Hollander(!) mit Tabackspfeife’ [Dutchman with a pipe] (Meusel 1779-1787, vol 2. [1779], p. 188).

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] See also above, p. 161 [= § 6]. Zanotti 1739, vol. 2, p. 70; Ricci 1918, p. 101. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Crespi: Rave et al. 1990.

10 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Crespi’s drawings and prints: Riccòmini 2014. However, none of his prints seems to be specifically related to an etching by Rembrandt.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Benesch 1924, p. 159-160; Pallucchini 1934. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Robinson 1967, p. 172173; Knox 1992.

12 [Gerson 1942/1983] Feulner 1922, p. 90. This must be an error, as De Vesme lists only one sheet of 1738 (De Vesme 1906, p. 369). Leber, on the other hand, points to a motif derived from Abraham Bloemaert’s Fondamenten der Teeken-konst, which matches the way French artist drew on Bloemaert at the time (Leber 1924, p. 164, note 1). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Indeed, Piazzetta employed printmakers, especially Giovanni Marco Pitteri (1702-1786) to produce prints after his chalk drawings, see A. Mariuz in Visentini/Knox et al. 1983, p. 48-53.

13 [Gerson 1942/1983] The Lamentation of Christ in Ottobeuren contains a motif of a man dressed in Turkish costume derived from Rembrandt’s print B.81 (Feulner 1922, p. 90) [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] No image of this work could be retrieved.

14 [Gerson 1982/1983] Feulner 1929, p. 189, points to a study in Tiepolo’s raccolta di teste after Rembrandt’s ‘Rabbi’. Byam Shaw 1933: p. 55: the Lamentation at the foot of the Cross in the Recueil Fayer in the Louvre after the oil sketch of Rembrandt’s Deposition in the National Gallery, London. Tiepolo [Gerson writes erroneously ‘Piazzetta’] can have seen the painting or the woodcut after the painting (by J.B. Jackson) in Venice with Consul Joseph Smith. The Deposition in the former collection of R. Kann and the portrait format oil sketch in the National Gallery, both traditionally listed as Giambattista, are so interrelated to the mentioned drawing and Rembrandt’s model, that they are given now to his son Domenico. Apart from the work of his father Lorenzo Tiepolo seems to have used also Rembrandt and Castiglione as his models. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Robinson 1967; Rutgers 2008, p. 79-87.

15 [Gerson 1942/1983] Tiepolo’s etching of a man (in 17th-century costume) next to a horse seen from behind (Sack 1910, p. 296, no. 35) goes back to a composition by Anthony van Dyck which has come down to us in grisaille paintings (auction H. Tepelmann, Berlin, 1 February 1910, no. 29; on the British art market c. 1925) and drawings (e.g. auction Lansdowne, London 25 March 1920, no. 84). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Several borrowings from Rembrandt by Giambattista Tiepolo are discussed in Gilles/Kowalczyk/Rutgers 2003-2004. The etching after van Dyck mentioned by Gerson is RKDimages 295994.

16 [Gerson 1942/1983] Molmenti 1909, p. 216, points to an example of a Head of an Oriental by Tiepolo that has long been attributed to Rembrandt, until the right name was found through an etching by Domenico.

17 [Gerson 1942/1983] Most Netherlandish paintings are to be found in Northern Italian collections, e.g. works by Cornelis van Poelenburch, Jan Miel, Nicola van Houbraken, Cornelis Verhuyck, Nicolaes Berchem, Pieter van Laer, Anton Goubau, Adriaen van Ostade (see Campori 1870).

18 [Gerson 1942/1983] Haumann 1927, p. 15, with a quote from Algarotti (1762) about Netherlandish artists: ‘quanto sogliono esser goffie nel disegno, altrettanto insciorno nel colorito eccellentie’ [how clumsy they use to be in design, just as much they excel in colouring].

19 [Gerson 1942/1983] Also in Rome ‘nello calcografia della R.C.A. a Pie di Marmo’ and by Elias Baeck ‘de la Matteo di Giudici alli Cesarini’. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] For the prints (possibly) after Berchem by Elias Baeck from Augsburg, published in Rome: RKDimages 240146, RKDimages 240148, RKDimages 240150 and RKDimages 240152. On prints after Berchem, including French and German ones: Wuestman 1996.

20 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Ricci’s connection to Netherlandish art: Aikema/De Klerck 1993. On Ricci: Scarpa Sonino 1991; Ducci et al. 1993.

21 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Scarpa Sonnino 1991, p. 19.

22 [Gerson 1942/1983] We also have to consider the possible mediation of Renaldo della Montagna, who died in Padua in 1644. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The actual year of Monsù Montagna’s death is 1661, as we learn from a letter by Jacques Courtois to the merchant Alberto Vanghetti in Bergamo, dated 21 August 1661. Courtois thanks Vanghetti for having informed him about the death of his colleague (Locatelli 1909, p. 9, largely unknown to later scholars with the exception of Meijer 1987).

23 [Gerson 1942/1983] Haumann 1927, p. 30-31.

24 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Zuccarelli: Spadotto 2007.

25 [Gerson 1942/1983] Bottari/Ticozzi 1822-1825, vol. 4, p. 116. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The citation actually refers to Orlandi’s Abbecedario (Orlandi 1733, p. 206, quoted by Bottari and Ticozzi in a footnote).

26 [Gerson 1942/1983] Delogu 1930, fig. 10. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The image Gerson refers to in Delogu is a work by Ricci (RKDimages 296178).

27 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Sitek/Linders/Goedkoop 1991. See also RKDimages 295999 and RKDimages 295998.

28 [Gerson 1942/1983] Haumann 1927, p. 75 and 82 points to ‘Hollandisms’ in the work of Giuseppe Zola (1672-1743) and Agostino Bertelli (1726/6-1776).

29 [Gerson 1942/1983] We already discussed Van Wittel as a precursor of Canaletto, see p. 168-169 [§ 2.6].

30 [Gerson 1942/1983] Ames 1937; Von Hadeln 1930, p. 13. Baron von Hadeln also sees Dutch influence in the work of Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Nogari, Longhi and others.

31 [Gerson 1942/1983] Mauroner 1931; Delugo 1930, p. 79. Pallucchini 1937; Lorenzetti 1937 and Goering 1938. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The painting in Modena has been reattributed to Joseph Heintz II (Succi 2015, p. 43-44, no. 34, ill.).

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