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St John the Baptist
18th Century
St John the Baptist
[San Giovanni Battista]
c 1730
Oil on canvas
68.4 x 52.3 cm  [HxW]
Pinacoteca dell'Accademia dei Concordi , Rovigo

Bartoli mentions that it was in Count don Gerolamo Silvestri’s Palazzo in Rovigo in 1793. From this building, it was donated to the Bishop’s Seminary in the same Venetian city by Cardinal Pietro Silvestri in 1876, together with other works in the family collection.

This is one of Giambattista’s mature works and can be dated with certainty to the early 1730s, in view of its many similarities with other paintings such as the one of a similar subject in the Museum in Bassano and the altar painting of the Ecstasy of St Francis in the Museo Civico of Vicenza, both of which undoubtedly date from the same period.

The robust constitution of the figure is typical of this period in Piazzetta’s work. It comes through with dynamic impetus from the dark background, brightly lit from the left with a light that violently shapes the bodies. His typically gloomy manner, which is still linked to the style of the 17th-century masters, make Piazzetta the antagonist of the more modern chiaristi led by Sebastiano Ricci (who was to be followed by the greatest Venetian decorator of the 18th century, Giambattista Tiepolo), and was to ensure his great success mainly among ecclesiastical patrons.

Filippo Pedrocco

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