Magazine article The Spectator

What to See in Venice

Magazine article The Spectator

What to See in Venice

Article excerpt

One day in Venice: a bit like visiting a great restaurant for one canape. But if you only have time for half a dozen paintings, start in the Museo Correr, with Antonello da Messina's 'Pieta'. Despite a damaged surface, this is not only a very great painting, it was one of the most influential works in European history. Antonello had visited Flanders and absorbed the techniques of the Flemish masters. His work transmitted these to Venetian artists, especially Bellini. Then move to San Zaccaria, for its Bellini Altarpiece, his greatest work: jewel-like, perfectly achieved, sublime. Cross to the Dorsoduro and the Accademia, for Giorgione.

A pupil of Bellini's and rival of Titian's who died tragically young, almost all his paintings' attributions have at some stage been queried. But there can be no argument about either 'La Vecchia' or 'La Tempesta'.

The structure of feeling is decisive. As for the meaning of 'La Tempesta', after six centuries of disputation, we are no nearer a consensus. …

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