LONGHI, Pietro
(b. 1702, Venezia, d. 1785, Venezia)

Il Ridotto

Oil on canvas
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

Pietro Longhi was first a pupil of Balestra and then of Crespi whose art was the source of his realism, which expressed a sober and sincere inner world, and a delight in detailed and fresh narrative. He conveyed his realism with wit and ease, whereas the immediacy with which he approached the landscape enriched his painting with a unique quality. Up to a certain point these elements can be discerned in pre-revolution French painting (Watteau, Chardin, Boucher and Lancret), whose influence also made itself felt in Pietro Longhi's realism. Only here and there did grotesque features appear in his art; he saw his figures with the eye of a sage and a gentle and witty impertinence is to be found in many of the scenes he depicted.

Pietro Longhi became, by means of his genre-painting, one of the most faithful chroniclers of his age, and one who conjured up a regrettably vanished civilization. It should be borne in mind, however, that his connection with Goldoni and the teachings of Emilia encouraged him, through the observation of reality, to perform a kind of analysis of "social depths"; he did not want to cause an upheaval but only wanted to point out — perhaps tendentiously — the ineptitude of a declining class of society. Although he did not pass sentence, he allowed his opinion to be known, being fully aware that changes were imminent. Sometimes he would ironically represent certain dandies, abbots and virgins.