The Construction of the Bridge for the Feast of the Madonna della Salute
Johan Giovanni Richter
( Stockholm, 1665 - Venice, 1745 )
Oil on canvas 57x95 cm
Maison d’Art, Monte-Carlo, Le Meraviglie dell’Arte, Important Old Master Paintings, 2005, n.17; Nel Segno della Serenissima: Masterpieces of the Venetian Art from XIV to XVIII centuries, Chioggia, Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra, 18 March – 9 April 2006; Le Meraviglie di Venezia. Dipinti del ‘700 in collezioni private, exhibition catalogue edited by Dario Succi and Annalisa Delneri, Palazzo della Torre, Gorizia, March 14th – July 27th 2008, (the dates of the exhibition were extended through August 31st, 2008).
M.Vinci-Corsini, Le Meraviglie dell’Arte, Important Old Master Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Maison d’Art, Monte-Carlo, 2005, n.17, pp. 89-91, color ill p. 91; Carla Campanini, Nel Segno della Serenissima: Masterpieces of the Venetian Art from XIV to XVIII centuries, exhibition catalogue, Chioggia, Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra, pp. 30, 61-62; Dario Succi in Le Meraviglie di Venezia. Dipinti del ‘700 in collezioni private, Palazzo della Torre, Gorizia, 2008, pp.232-233, ill. p. 233, no. 80.
This historical view painting depicts the construction of the bridge for the Feast of the Madonna della Salute. In 1630 the city of Venice was struck by the plague, and by 1631 the church of the Salute was under construction to commemorate the city’s recovery from this deadly outbreak. Every year since then a procession has taken place on November 21st in thanksgiving for the end of the plague, necessitating a temporary bridge over the Grand Canal for the faithful to cross and celebrate the miraculous intervention of the Virgin. One should note that the word “salute” means both “health” and “salvation”.
A similar subject, The Feast of Santa Maria della Salute by Luca Carlevarijs, can be seen at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford (1). Both paintings are very similar in style, although the present canvas has much more vivid colours. Richter here conveys the clear blue of the sky blending with the clear blue of the water, through a depiction of the extraordinary light that one can only see on a cold winter’s day in Venice. Scenes such as this were characteristic of the period, and among the most prestigious painters of Venice who specialized in these kinds of views and capricci were Antonio Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, and Luca Carlevarijs, all - together with Richter - in great vogue as they largely painted ricordi to be brought back from Italy as souvenirs of the Grand Tour.
Marietta Vinci - Corsini
1 - I thank Prof. Bernard Aikema for bringing this to my attention. See J. K.Cadogan, ed., Wadsworth Atheneum Paintings II. Italy and Spain, Hartford 1991, pp. 98-99, illus.