Confident Anxiety: History Painting in Sixteenth-Century Venice

In the wake of the disastrous conflagration that consumed the halls of the Great Council and Scrutinio—library—in the Palazzo Ducale, the Venetian government took it upon itself to commission a series of allegorical and historically themed paintings that extolled the Republic’s administrative virtues and past triumphs in light of the recent recession of Venice’s commercial and military empires. The writers of the iconographic program for the painted cycles sought to create a series of paintings that served to inform the audience of Venice’s glorious history and to evoke a sense of pride and confidence in the Republic’s past achievements. The paintings featured in the cycles present an idealized and highly romantic account of the events that were instrumental in shaping Venice’s once formidable commercial and military empires. By focusing on the Republic’s past achievements in a time when Venice’s commercial and military preeminence were being challenged the writers of the iconographic programs sought to inspire and elevate the morale of the city’s legislators.

History Painting in the Palazzo Ducale

The Fourth Crusade

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