Pietro Longhi Antique Venetian Brighella Painting (Attr.)


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This painting represents the mask of Brighella, who owes his name to his lively, brawling, insolent and mischievous character. He is Harlequin’s best friend: both are servants in the commedia dell’arte and both were born in Bergamo. In contrast to his friend, however, Brighella is not only a servant but a host of other more or less licit professions, so he always finds himself in the middle of various intrigues. The main characteristic elements of the character are his alertness and agility of mind, which he uses to devise deceptions and traps into which to make others fall just for the sake of cheating them. He is also intriguing, very cunning, unscrupulous and a liar capable of telling fibs with such confidence and conviction that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the truth. He is also very skilled at singing, playing and dancing. He is depicted wearing a jacket and trousers decorated with green chevrons; he also has green shoes with black pompoms. His cloak is white with two green stripes while his mask and hat are black.
The technique is a very hasty but precise oil painting on canvas, in fact there are not many details, but remaining in Longhi’s style it is very essential. It is the vices of the Venetian aristocracy that Longhi wants to highlight.
The frame has been restored, varnished and repositioned, making the painting suitable for even the most sparse, but art-loving environments.
An unmissable piece of art from 18th century Venice.
Pietro Longhi portrays events in the daily life of the Venetian aristocracy contemporary to him in a very realistic manner. His canvases depict typical moments of the Venetian world.
In his paintings we find the same atmosphere as in Goldoni’s comedies, the settings are discreet, in private and intimate contexts. Goldoni himself, a contemporary of Pietro Longhi, admired his work and dedicated a sonnet to him in which he indicated Longhi’s work as a pictorial version of his theatre. With Goldoni, we are in the midst of the 16th century, in the middle of the Venice Carnival, amid masks, music, laughter and haggling merchants. In the darkness of the calli we meet a figure dressed in red wrapped in a black cloak: it is Pantalone, the Venetian mask symbol of the commedia dell’arte made famous throughout Europe by Carlo Goldoni. The masks of the commedia dell’arte parade through the canals of Venice: from Harlequin, the foolish ‘Servant of two masters’, to Columbine and the cunning Brighella, the enterprising and opportunistic face of the bourgeoisie.
The cross-section of eighteenth-century life that Pietro Longhi’s paintings offer us represents a precious testimony of customs thanks to which it is possible to reconstruct Venetian daily habits in detail.
By highlighting a detail, such as a gesture, he tries to evoke the essence of a situation.
There are a series of four vertical paintings that create a splendid set of late 18th century paintings attributed to Pietro Longhi.


Height: 170 cm (66.92 in.)

Width: 76,5 cm (30.11 in.)

Depth: 4 cm (1.57 in.)


The painting is in very good and original vintage condition, slight scratches and light wear consistent with its time and use. Being a VINTAGE item it is possible that it will bear some scratches or defects.