(b. 1702, Venezia, d. 1785, Venezia)
The Soothsayerc. 1750
Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
After several unfortunate attempts at historical paintings Pietro Falca, known as Pietro Longhi, turned, on his return from a stay in Bologna where he had particularly admired the popular art of Giuseppe Maria Crespi, to the depicting of Venetian society at the moment of its decline offering a witty view, with just a hint of irony, in which not even the smallest detail that can lend colour is neglected. Though the paintings look similar, they in fact offer an extremely wide range of subtly described and individualized personalities and moods of the characters engaged in often frivolous pursuits under the gaze, alternately ironic and ambiguous, of servants who rarely betray any sympathy or liking for their masters and mistresses. In the minute detail of his sharp reporting Pietro Longhi sees his age with a spirit of good-humoured optimism untinged by social and moral jjudgments. His art shows a close affinity with the work of Carlo Goldoni, a connection that was several times acknowledged by the great playwright himself.