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Seeing red - exhibit explores Venetian masters' use of red

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(13 Mar 2017) LEADIN:It was the colour worn by kings and cardinals, but also the colour of passion: the rich red, known as Venetian scarlet, is being celebrated in a new exhibit at Rome's Palazzo Barberini.'Scarlet Venice' presents six paintings by artists tied to the Italian lagoon city, each masterpiece features the rich red synonymous with the 'Serenissima'.STORYLINE:In the Medieval period and the Renaissance, rich red was a colour prized by princes and nobles, partly for its price.The finest scarlet was highly sought after. It came from Venice, where it was made from the insect kermes by artisans who closely guarded their trade secrets.Paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo and Giovanni Cariani, on loan from the New York Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre in Paris and Madrid's Prado, pay homage to skills handed down by painters, dyers, alchemists and inventors to a select few."The reasons for this choice depend on the fact that, in Venice, the colours scarlet red and carmine red have an absolutely central role, because red, it's not just a colour, a wavelength, but it's something tri-dimensional, that is extremely important for the Venetian visual culture and of the early 16th century," explains exhibit curator Michele Di Monte.Among the canals of the northern Italian city, the colour came to symbolise everything from lust to luck.Portrait painter Lotto takes his scarlet brush to the Virgin Mary's robes, Savoldo paints Saint Matthew's tunic red, while the same rich tone colours the garment of a noble physician and philosopher in a painting by Cariani."Lotto obtained this shade of red by blending different kinds of substances in different layers and veils, often in a quite surprising manner, as concerns the use and chemical composition," says Di Monte. "He obtained results that we can appreciate for their brightness and freshness."The exhibit in the Italian capital aims to show how the colour served as a bridge between different traditional genres, from portrait painting to biblical scenes or biographical depictions.Scarlet was a symbol of passion, vitality and power. It was worn by the rich and powerful as a mark, not only of their wealth, but often of their political influence too.In the Catholic Church, it represented the blood of Christ and the themes of martyrdom and crucifixion, as well as Christian charity. It is still the colour worn by cardinals, who are known as the "Princes of the Church".In Venice, it appeared everywhere from the bows of the city's finest gondolas to the elaborate masks worn at carnival.In the city's art world, it was used to denote volume and perspective in "tonal" paintings. In the 15th century, unlike the Florentine school, the Venetian school was distinguished for chromatic splendour and the primacy of colour.By the 18th century, the colour reflected on the Grand Canal from wealthy houses along its banks had become known globally as "Venetian scarlet".A slightly darker hue than common scarlet, it was a colour of civic values, religious passions, worldly affections, private devotions and professional pride, all elements captured in the six works that make up this exhibition."Through these different reds they (the painters) express what it means to paint in the 16th century, the relationship with buyers, which was the core of the painting," says Flaminia Gennari Santori, director of Gallerie Nazionali d'Arte Antica."The importance of a colour in the paintings of the period, because, as we know, the colours had an economic value, it was a symbol of luxury and in the case of scarlet, there was a deep connection between the colour and the physical materials, as you can clearly see in these paintings."You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you... Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork


AP Archive 4085680 ccd3bb6c7f187c072d83218207c34c24 HZ Italy Art Italy Western Europe Rome Arts and entertainment Social affairs
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