Click on photos to enlarge.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Academia, Venice

Christ in the House Levi, 1528 Veronese, for me, the most impressive piece in the museum, as much for its immense size as it's multitude of figures.
The Academia facade. Virtually
every church in Venice is more
 impressive looking.
As art museums go, the Academia in Venice is not all that impressive. It's not huge in size. It features no great, intimidating Greek Portico. It's holdings are limited to Venetian art from the 14th through the 18th centuries. Having said that, no art lover's trip to Venice wold be complete without paying ones respects to the rich artistic tradition contained within the Academia's walls. If the size and numbers are not impressive, the names housed inside certainly are. They include the native Bellinis, of course, as well a Leonardo's Vetruvian Man, plus many works by Canaletto, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Vasari, as well as others unfamiliar to most people, including myself. Virtually every painter from the early Renaissance through the 18th century having any connection whatsoever to the city of Venice (however tenuous) can be found there.

The Tempest, 1510, Giorgione
One of the most enjoyable parts of experiencing a great art museum is entering one of its cavernous galleries and suddenly and unexpectedly coming face to face with a great painting which you've only seen in books. Veronese's Christ in the House of Levi (top) was one such moment for me, as well as Giorgione's The Tempest (right, 1476-77). Though not nearly as impressive, Tintoretto's The Miracle of Saint Mark Freeing the Slave (1548) falls into the same category. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a couple small portraits by Rosalba Carriera, including a strikingly honest self-image from late in her life (below, 1746), done shortly before she fell victim to "a total loss of reason."

Rosalba Carriera,
Self-portrait 1746
The Academia itself is conglomeration of several five-hundred-year-old structures modified, remodeled, joined, and adapted to its current functions, starting around 1750 and continuing until the present. The oldest part is a church, Santa Maria della Carita, which dates from 1343. Additional structures once housed a convent and an art school. In this regard, it has much in common with nearly every other building in the city. What is uncommon, is the care and thoughtful compromises Venice's best architects have employed in dealing with the practical needs of a growing museums, the limited space that hampers every enterprise within the city, and the historic ambience making Venice the unique cultural experience myself and others enjoy today.
Whatever it may lack in grandeur, the Academia has something no other museum in Europe can boast--its own bridge over the Grand Canal (one of only three).

No comments:

Post a Comment