View of Saint Mark’s Square towards the Basilica
oil on canvas, 80×120 cm
Scenery painting, or in other words the representation of characteristic urban sites with accuracy and often almost scientific verisimilitude, was one of the most characteristic artistic genres of the 18th century. The centre of propulsion of this innovative interest, also linked to the flourishing of the Grand Tour and cultured tourists arriving from the rest of Europe, was above all Venice, which saw the international success of artists of the calibre of Canaletto, Guardi and Bellotto.
The scenery presented here has been attributed to Gabriele (or Gabriel) Bella by Dario Succi. Known for his images of the city in the lagoon during festivities and events, the Venetian painter is principally represented by a collection of seventy-seven canvases held by the Picture Gallery of the Querini Stampalia Foundation. According to the expert, in our canvas Bella “renders one of the most famous views of the Eighteenth-century scenery painting tradition with a brilliant palette”, taking inspiration from the compositions featured by the etchings of Carlevarijs and Brustolon. In his treatise on the painting Succi also points out that the artist “also availed himself of this view in another two canvases that are part of the Functions of Venice group” at the Querini Stampalia (Procession of the Doge in pozzetto around the piazza and The last day of Carnival); they, like this work, may be dated “to around the middle of the Eighties”.