Small Treasures: Pietro Longhi | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Small Treasures: Pietro Longhi

March 20, 2009

Small Treasures: Pietro Longhi

 Everywhere a new way of life is evolving...the sparkle of society and the sheen of silk...

This is The Presentation by Pietro Longhi, (1704-1785.) The piece was done in 1740 (give or take) and is only 25.5" x 21". The small canvas is intimate and offers a glimpse at life inside the home...of Venetians! Longhi moved to Venice when he was 28 years old.

He had a knack for observation and, in a witty way, was able to capture fun social moments on canvas. He did several small paintings from observing social standards and changes at the time. His talent for what he did was so great that he became thought of as one of the top social chroniclers of the time!

That is a great way to be remembered but he was a painter before a chronicler, and it must be noted. His style is one of delicacy when it comes to soft details. These details of color, texture and light are easily noticed in the clothing. Close attention has been paid to the fashion of the time because it was engulfing society. The fashion is depicted accurately from a delicate shoe to a silky piece for the hair.

He really took advantage of light. He uses light to portray the warm glow of a lady's radiant complexion, or just to add highlight to a pearl. What is exciting about his brush stroke is that although you look and see the details, up close they are not so obvious. The details are made up of broader and almost loose strokes of paint. Swishes of color play off one another to form the shape of a pearl or diamond earring.

He paints in complimentary colors, greens playing of warm reds. Vigee Le Brun also took advantage of these color plays. His smart use of color brings the subjects close to us, and enliven them from the background. Even the expressions they own, give license for fun narratives to be imagined.

This piece along with others of Longhi can be viewed at the Louvre, in the Denon Wing, room 24.


  1. I love Longhi. His paintings always bring you into the moment; this is his specialty. Thanks for this post, I am so partial and actually enamoured with anything Venetian:)

  2. Quite beautiful. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  3. Aren't they? I am going to put some more up later, I love his work!