(b. 1733, Venezia, d. 1813, Venezia)
Portrait of Jacopo Gradenigo1778-81
Oil on canvas, 233 x 137 cm
Museo Civico, Padua
Jacopo Gradenigo occupied various positions but it seems probable that the portrait was painted at the time when he was chief admiral, for the city visible in the background was found to be Corfu, the seat of the holder of this office. This opinion is supported by the sitter's age, which corresponds with the time during which he held this position.
The arrangement is that of an official portrait: the naval officer standing in a haughty posture, with a hardly noticeable smile on his lips, holds his admiral's baton and faces the painter. But Longhi avoids the purely professional approach and offers instead a colour symphony of red and gold, of pale and vivid hues; he reveals, too, in the likeness his own ironical aloofness. He was introduced to the craft of painting by his father; he later became a pupil of Giuseppe Nogari but was to some extent also influenced by Piazzetta. The decisive part of his oeuvre was portraiture, in which he proved to be a unique and outstanding personality. His figures, in addition to official portraiture, show a certain malice, reflecting subtle Venetian satire.