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Some notes from Simona Cohen's "The Enigma of Carpaccio's Venetian Ladies", Renaissance Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2 (April 2005).

  1. The work above is called Venetian Ladies on a Balcony by Vittore Carpaccio, a Venetian artist who studied under Bellini. The work is often dated to 1495. 
  2. The painting was actually much longer than what you see here. The other half is at the Getty in Los Angeles and includes a background of the lagoon. See below
  1. There is evidence indicating that the division of the two pieces dates from the Renaissance, though some art historians would say that the amputation was part of a vandalism of the 18th or 19th century. 
  2. The total height of the present painting, reconstituted from its two extant parts, measures 169cm, which is far larger than most paintings from the period. 
  3. BIG DEBATE: Who commissioned this work? The scuole? an individual patron?
    1. The problem is that behind the lagoon scene, Carpaccio painted a series of hanging letters which gives us a clue because scuola paintings were never two-sided, as opposed to portraits, altarpiece wings, organ shutters and various domestic objects that often were. 
  4. Author believes that although it does not conform to any traditional category of Renaissance painting, it does seem to conflate different genres. Further, she argues that "Carpaccio painted his Venetian ladies overlooking a lagoon for a piece of domestic furniture, which is intended as a wedding gift for a future bride."
  5. The Precarious Legs of the Peacock