Piazzetta, Giovanni Battista

Piazzetta, Giovanni Battista one of the most celebrated of the later Venetian painters, was born in 1682. According to Zanetti, he was instructed in the rudiments of the art by his father, a reputable sculptor in wood, and afterwards became the pupil of Antonio Molinari. His first style was distinguished for a clear and brilliant tone of coloring, but on visiting Bologna he employed himself with Spagnoletto; and by diligently studying the works of Guercino, he imitated his strong contrasts of lights and shadows, and boldness of relief, with considerable success. Lanzi says it is supposed that he had long observed the effects of lights applied to statues of wood and images of wax, and by this means he was enabled to draw with considerable judgment and exact precision the several parts that are comprehended in the shadowing; owing to which art his designs were eagerly sought after,.andhis works repeatedly engraved by Pitteri, by Pelli, and by Monaco, besides many other masters in Germany and elsewhere. His method of coloring, however, diminished in a great measure the chief merit of his pictures. His shades have increased and changed, his lights sunk, and his tints become yellow; so that there remains an inharmonious and unformed mass. There are a few of his pictures still in good preservation: as the Decoration of St. John the Baptist, in the church of that saint at Padua, placed in competition with those of the first artists in the state, and at that period esteemed best of all. "Yet if we follow him closely he will not fail to displease us by that monotonous coloring of lakes alnd yellows, and by that rapidity of hand called, by some, spirit, though to the judicious it often appears neglect, as if the artist were desirous of abandoning his task before it was completed." He executed manyt chalkdrawings which were greatly valued. He also etched a few plates from his own designs. He died at Venice in 1754. See Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, 2:690.

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