Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power

By Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and Dr. Lynn Federle Orr

Among the singular moments in the evolution of Western art, the Venetian Renaissance forged an artistic vocabulary of dazzling virtuosity. Celebrating the poetic potential of lustrous color and rich atmospheric effects, Venetian painters of the cinquecento transcended the spatial, textural, and representational realism of their predecessors to create works unsurpassed in their emotional and sensual depictions, velvety surfaces, and glorious treatment of light. Artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese were legendary in their own time, and their paintings were highly prized by discerning collectors across Europe.

This lavishly illustrated volume offers an accessible introduction to the treasures of the Venetian Renaissance, examining the achievements of Venetian painting through the world-renowned holdings of the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum—one of the world’s four great imperial museums, along with the Hermitage, the Louvre, and the Prado. Among the spectacular artworks showcased are Mantegna’s tortured Saint Sebastian, Titian’s mysterious Bravo (The Assassin) and sumptuous Danaë, and a rare group of paintings by the enigmatic Giorgione, including Portrait of a Young Woman (Laura) and The Three Philosophers. Exemplary works by Palma Vecchio, Bassano, Veronese, and others demonstrate the full range of Venetian accomplishment in the Renaissance era.


Sylvia Ferino-Pagden is director of the Gemäldegalerie of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Her books include Giorgione: Myth and Enigma; Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting (with David Alan Brown); and Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting.

Dr. Lynn Federle Orr is former curator in charge of European art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Among her recent publications are The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 and Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay.

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