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Venice 2014


In conclusion, Longhi “chronicled a limited sector, restricting himself to the moral status of the painter of a class, exposed to inevitable comprise with the conservatism of his customers.”[21]  Longhi included himself as one among the nobility and therefore was confined in his artistic style. His paintings often romanticize the view of the world in which the nobility lived, and Longhi as “part” of the nobility himself was keen to maintain a façade of modesty. Vettor Sandi, an eighteenth-century historian who chronicled his city’s institutions, wrote that proper modesty relied on “maintaining each thing in its place, which, in this context, means not abasing oneself below or elevating oneself above one’s proper condition or power.” Longhi was able to maintain the modesty of his peers and himself through his depiction of figures in costume and masks. In addition, Longhi highlighted the level of autonomy granted to the nobility because of the mask. The mask pardoned formality while preserving deference. It fostered a common ground without denying status and saved face when an individual’s dignity was in jeopardy. It gave the impression of privacy instead of the real thing, which was a fabricated buffer that permitted both standoffishness and surprising closeness. Longhi’s paintings of the public nobility honored the freedom that the Venetian nobility craved while also preserving the modesty of their class. In conclusion, Longhi’s images were a perfect compromise for the nobility who relied upon maintaining a strict hierarchy, as they highlighted the pleasures the autonomy of mask gave them while also maintaining the desired level of peace that would allow the city to move forward.

[21] Terisio Pignatti, Pietro Longhi: Paintings and Drawings (London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1969), 10.