(b. 1702, Pitigliano, d. 1788, Firenze)


c. 1736
Oil on canvas, 114 x 150 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Although clever Zuccarelli was fond of landscapes he always had a slight nostalgia for portraiture. In vain was he stunted and distorted, in vain was he enclosed in his isolation, in vain was this longing suppressed by the freer, fresher and more fluid talent of the born landscape painter; he stood out from among the mass of his fellow artists. He had a talent, rare among landscape painters for portraiture, too. He began his studies in Florence and Rome and then came under the influence of Venice and of Ricci. It was during this period (1732-1751) that he painted his best pictures of the lagoons.

Bull-Hunting is connected with a trend akin to Central European or rather French culture (Boucher and Fragonard), in which mythological and Arcadian representations (landscapes and customs) were virtually "compulsory". This seems to have been the cultural trend of the period, a culture conveyed by channels that, although not of Italian origin, clearly revealed the deep feelings of the age. The starting-point of the picture is the game of the same name, which took place on the piazza in front of San Polo. Documentary art was the artist's speciality, and accordingly, setting out from this open-air game, he represented his theme in nature, idyllically and, at the same time, solemnly, for this was the subject with which he could display his gifts best.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 3 minutes):
Georges Bizet: Carmen, Prelude