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Pietro Longhi and the mise-en-scene of domestic life in Venice

Fragments of aristocratic life are depicted as they are being carried out within compact, simplified spaces, illuminated by artificial light and defined by a domestic scenographic setting. The main characters in these scenes are members of the different social classes of the Serenissima, observed as they get on with their life, just as happens in the contemporary plays by Carlo Goldoni. What is striking about Goldoni’s plays and Pietro Longhi’s little scenes is the centrality of women, who in Venice enjoyed unparalleled freedom. The Venetian painter observes the society of the time with lucid precision and detachment, in keeping with a scientific, Enlightenment attitude. His expressively highly essential interpretation is no less extraordinary than his evocative efficacity.