The Lady and her Toilet by Longhi

The Lady and her Toilet by Longhi
The Lady and her Toilet by Longhi

Pietro Longhi (1702 – 1785) is one of the best representatives of rococo art in the Italian city of Venice. There he dedicated himself to painting countless scenes like these in which he represents the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy of the city of canals in the most everyday attitudes. A city that at that time did not have great political weight, but that did have a very we althy and lively upper class that supported itself thanks to the income extracted from trade. And much of that nobility and great merchants wanted to be portrayed by Longhi.


Lady and her toilette by Longhi

The truth is that Pietro Longhi began painting in his hometown, where he trained with the artist Antonio Balestra, who above all taught him how to work painting alla maniera grande, or what is the same, with old-fashioned figures, just as the great Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, author of great paintings in palaces and churches of Venice, used to do at that time.

But, at a certain point, being in his thirties, he decided to go to Bologna, where he worked with the painter Giuseppe Maria Crespi, from whom he learned to paint much more vulgar subjects and everyday, or what is the same: the so-called petite painting.

It will be precisely genre painting that he practiced when he returned to Venice, where he opened a workshop in which he worked with his son Alessandro, who was not only hisassistant, but his texts have served to write his father's biography.

Genre painting served Longhi to connect perfectly with the rich bourgeoisie, since he was very capable of painting reality but with a friendly tone, in addition to that he was generally looking for themes and scenes in which anyone could feel pleasantly reflected.

For all these reasons, many of his paintings, such as this one ofThe Lady and her Toilettecan even be considered graphic documents of the bourgeois way of life in the18th century Venice. And although in the vast majority of cases his scenes are quite harmless, sometimes he allowed himself the luxury of incorporating a certain critical charge.

But they were critical in small doses, so it was no problem for him to remain a successful painter, whose works sold fairly easily. In them he used to repeat certain schemes and characteristics, such as reflecting the interiors of we althy houses but without excessive furniture, just as it was common for gentlemen and servants to appear in his paintings to see the differences in clothing and sometimes also in attitude.

They are also very colorful works, a mixture of the Venetian and the liveliness of theBolognese schoolofCrespi,whose influence also is manifested in the illumination of his works.

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