Traditional Venetian Colors

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During the Italian Renaissance, Venice gave birth to an artistic style known as the Venetian School (1450-1600 A.D) that placed importance reflected light and its impact on color. In contrast to the Florentine paintings from the same time period, which focused on linear form, Venetian paintings blended Byzantine and Gothic elements with subtle layering and blending techniques to apply color of a muted vibrancy to more closely mimic colors found in nature.

Color Vibrancy

  • The richness in Venetian color reflected the wealth prominent in Venice during the Renaissance. The dark reds, brilliant blues and muted yellows used in the oil paintings of Venetian School artists such as Jacopo Bellini have both a deepness and transparency meant to reflect light and expose the shades of layered color. Often muted in tone, Venetian colors gradually softened throughout the Renaissance to replicate natural color rather than exaggerated hues.

Layering and Blending

  • Unlike the Florentine masters who began masterpieces by focusing on the linear movement of a composition, the Venetian School artists would begin forming their work with shapes of color painted directly on the canvas. Shades of color were carefully layered and blended to create a subtle shift of hue and tone to define form in place of the severe lines notable in other style movements.

Shadows and Light

  • A careful consideration of light's impact on color is reflected in the work of the masters of the Venetian School period. Whereas other movements would mimic the actual color of a subject as a whole, Venetian colorists would incorporate the subtle shifts of hue caused by the reflected light on the subject with their unique layering and blending techniques. With the interplay of shadows and light across a subject, traditional Venetian color application suggests form without sharp edges, creating a difficult to achieve sense of depth and realism.

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  • Photo Credit venice canals image by Lovrencg from Fotolia.com
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