For over a millennium, the Italian coastal state of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, or La Serenissima, flourished as a center for sea trade and the arts. Here an important final phase of late Baroque mythological and Biblical painting took place. Venice also became an important destination on the Grand Tour, where its aquatic setting and unique network of canals, palaces, and churches inspired a talented group of view painters, especially during the eighteenth century. Today, collections throughout North America hold many works from this prolific period.
La Serenissima presents new scholarship on works that have not received due public attention in recent years and brings together approximately 65 works of art from more than 25 collections. Together, they represent important regional developments in religious and topographical painting as well as genre and portraiture. These artworks display the inimitable aspects of Venetian taste and culture in the age of the Grand Tour and through the decline of the Republic. La Serenissima also casts new light on the achievements of Venetian view painters, including master painter Antonio Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, Luca Carlevarijs, and Francesco Guardi.
Hardy George is curator of the exhibition La Serenissima: Eighteenth-century Venetian Art from North American Collections at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Other contributors are George Knox, Alison Palmer, Jon Seydl, Andria Derstine, Edgar Peters Bowron, and John Marciari.