Padua, 1605 – Venice, 1687
Battle of Lepanto
oil on canvas, cm 130×148
This painting is a seascape depicting the occupants of two small boats boarding a galley. A battle is raging on the latter and in the midst of the excitement we see a man throwing himself into the sea in the background, while in the foreground is another ship with soldiers ready to attack. This is very probably the Battle of Lepanto, one of the most widespread subjects in Italy and particularly in Venice because of the bloody maritime scenes, also celebrated by Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto.
Some of the details of the figures and especially the diaphanous light breaking through the clouds, illustrating the divine will for Christendom’s victory over the infidels, suggest that this may be a very rare painting of this subject by Pietro Liberi.
The painter lived in Venice during the second part of his career, from 1652, where he specialised in genre scenes and paintings by famous artists for collectors in the city.
Pietro was born in Padua, but as far as we know from his adventure-packed biography, he moved to Constantinople and travelled extensively, even with a ship’s general whom he followed into battle against the Turks. A well-known biography that adds extra charm to this painting.