Giovanni Battista Pittoni

Giovanni Battista Pittoni, was an 18th C Venetian painter of religious and mythological subjects; during the late Baroque or Rococo era.

He was among the founders of the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, of which in 1758; he became the second president, succeeding Tiepolo.

Although he was well known outside his native city and received many commissions from abroad, especially Germany; he was one of the least travelled Venetian painters of his day.

However, following a visit to France around 1720 with several other artists; a change of style from a heavy Baroque to a lighter and more delicate Rococo manner, dates from about this time.

As well as exuberant easel-sized representations of religious and mythological subjects, Pittoni painted frescoes; such as the “Justice and Peace’” in the Palazzo Pesaro, Venice.

Once his style had evolved, it changed little and his paintings, which are distinguished by their fluency and theatrical expressiveness.

Giordano and Sebastiano Ricci were early influences on his style, and he was also affected by the work of Piazzetta and of Tiepolo, who was a younger contemporary.


Giovanni Battista Pittoni. Self-portrait



Giovanni Battista Pittoni

(b. 6th June 1687 – d. 6th November 1767)

Portrait of Giambattista Pittoni by Bartolomeo Nazari. 






Giovanni Battista Pittoni – BIOGRAPHY

 Giovanni Battista Pittoni. Portrait by Pietro Longhi. (1762).

Pittoni was born in Venice on 6 June 1687. He studied under his uncle Francesco Pittoni, a well-known, but undistinguished painter of the Venetian Baroque. A “Samson and Delilah” painting, at the Villa Querini in Visinale, near Pasiano di Pordenone; is signed by both painters.

He was unwilling to leave Venice and travelled little, although he received many foreign commissions; notably, Swedish, Austrian and German. No journey in connection with any of them is documented.

He also painted altarpieces for churches in numerous Italian towns and he had a reputation for being diligent and dependable.

However, in 1720 he may have travelled to France with his uncle Francesco; together with Rosalba Carriera, Antonio Pellegrini and Anton Maria Zanetti. His change of style, from a heavy Baroque to a lighter and more delicate Rococo manner; dates from about this time. Some older writers, have attributed this change to an indirect French influence, perhaps through Pellegrini or through Sebastiano Ricci. From 1720 onwards, records show that in every year; he was in Venice.

Above: Giovanni Battista Pittoni. Portrait by Pietro Longhi. (1762).


Pittoni joined the Fraglia dei Pittori Veneziani, the Venetian guild of painters, in 1716. From probably the same year, until his death he was a member of the Collegio dei Pittori; of which he became prior in 1729.

He was elected to the Accademia Clementina of Bologna in 1727.

In 1750, he was one of the forty-six founding members of the Veneta Pubblica Accademia di Pittura, Scultura e Architettura; which later became the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.

In 1758, he succeeded Tiepolo as president of the academy and was elected for a second term in 1763–64.

Left:The Nativity with God the Father and the Holy Ghost

(Note. In this deeply devotional altarpiece Pittoni, has used life-size figures to depict both the Nativity. It was painted in around 1740, although it is unknown for which church it was commissioned.

Saint Joseph sits slumped in a chair asleep. The Virgin Mary kneels in adoration of the Christ Child, who is lying in a manger of hay. These three figures together form the ’Earthly Trinity‘.

Above them, among glowing clouds, we see God the Father, one hand resting on a celestial globe, accompanied by cherubs and an angel. The Holy Ghost in the form of a white dove hovers over Christ, who belongs to both the earthly and heavenly trinities. A celestial glow fills the top half of the painting, illuminating Christ, Mary and the rustic straw-filled manger; the same light catches Joseph’s sandaled foot.

Colour distinguishes the heavenly realm from the earthly. The composition is both compact and dramatic, full of incident and movement. The energetic cherubs perched on a cloud in the background give a sense of depth and space to the picture.

This picture is unusual, though not unique, in combining the Nativity and the Trinity.)











Above: “View of the Brenta, near to the Dolomites (date unknown)

Left: Venus in the forge of Vulcan. (date unknown)



Pittoni died in Venice on 6 November 1767and his tomb is in the church of San Giacomo dell’Orio, Venice.

His reputation quickly faded after his death. Interest in him, was revived in the 20th century.



Please see my introductory post, on the Second Golden Age of Art: together with its most important artists: 

 Venetian Artists-18th Century

Foreign Artists working in Venice

Turner in Venice         Whistler in Venice

Monet in Venice



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