Pietro Longhi Antique Venetian Harlequin Painting (Attr.)


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This painting depicts Harlequin who, because of his coloured lozenge dress, has become synonymous with ‘multicoloured’ in the Italian language. His name is perhaps taken from that of Hellequin, a jester devil of the French Middle Ages, and initially connoted a poor man, stupid and ready to fight.
Harlequin represents Venetian culture just as Pulcinella represents Campania culture. He is the fortunate emblem of comedy and is a cunning servant-servant who tries to extract money from stingy and stupid masters. He has a remarkable wealth of expression, is plagued by chronic hunger and is amoral. His famous and traditional costume consists of a black, flamboyant mask and a suit made of shiny multicoloured lozenges.
Here, too, a legend sets out to explain the origin of Harlequin’s all-coloured dress. The story goes that Harlequin was a child from a very poor family. On the occasion of Carnival at school, the teacher decided to organise a party, in which, however, the child was the only one unable to participate because he could not afford a suitable costume. His schoolmates came to his aid, who, driven by a sense of solidarity, each brought Harlequin’s mother a small piece of fabric from their own dress. With all these scraps of cloth, the poor child’s mother made an original dress, which was characterised by its varied colours. Harlequin was the most admired child on the day of the Carnival feast.
It is a mask that is still alive and well thanks to the modern representations of Goldoni’s ‘Harlequin, servant of two masters’.
The technique is a very hasty but precise oil painting on canvas, in fact there are not many details, but remaining in Longhi’s style it is very essential. It is the vices of the Venetian aristocracy that Longhi wants to highlight. He is depicted dancing with a mandolin in
The frame has been restored, varnished and repositioned, making the painting suitable for even the most sparse, but art-loving environments.
An unmissable piece of art from 18th century Venice.
Pietro Longhi portrays events in the daily life of the Venetian aristocracy contemporary to him in a very realistic manner. His canvases depict typical moments of the Venetian world.
In his paintings we find the same atmosphere as in Goldoni’s comedies, the settings are discreet, in private and intimate contexts. Goldoni himself, a contemporary of Pietro Longhi, admired his work and dedicated a sonnet to him in which he indicated Longhi’s work as a pictorial version of his theatre. With Goldoni, we are in the midst of the 16th century, in the middle of the Venice Carnival, amid masks, music, laughter and haggling merchants. In the darkness of the calli we meet a figure dressed in red wrapped in a black cloak: it is Pantalone, the Venetian mask symbol of the commedia dell’arte made famous throughout Europe by Carlo Goldoni. The masks of the commedia dell’arte parade through the canals of Venice: from Harlequin, the foolish ‘Servant of two masters’, to Columbine and the cunning Brighella, the enterprising and opportunistic face of the bourgeoisie.
The cross-section of eighteenth-century life that Pietro Longhi’s paintings offer us represents a precious testimony of customs thanks to which it is possible to reconstruct Venetian daily habits in detail.
By highlighting a detail, such as a gesture, he tries to evoke the essence of a situation.
There are a series of four vertical paintings that create a splendid set of late 18th century paintings attributed to Pietro Longhi.


Height: 170 cm (66.92 in.)

Width: 76,5 cm (30.11 in.)

Depth: 4 cm (1.57 in.)


The painting is in very good and original vintage condition, slight scratches and light wear consistent with its time and use. Being a VINTAGE item it is possible that it will bear some scratches or defects.

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