Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remo by Bassano

During a recent trip to Washington D.C., one of my daughters and I visited the National Gallery of Art.
While viewing the different exibits, I noticed a section of pieces by Venetian artisits.
I had to check it out.
There on the wall, among the many portraits, was this piece:
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Jacopo Bassano.
Painted in 1545, oil on canvas

This painting shows a scene from the New Testament where Jesus calls Peter to become a disciple.

It's important to note that the word "draught" in this context refers to a taking or lifting-up. It's easy to read it as a "draught" along the lines of a shortage.

Jacopo Bassano (1510-1592), began his studies under his father in the town of Bassano. Later he studied in Venice, taught by various teachers copying the works of Titian. He specialized in realistic scenes of farm life and nature. Religious content was popular at the time, as is evidenced by this piece. Bassano's workshop continued to operate after his death, carried on by his four sons.

Workshops like Bassano's were often family-run businesses. Jacopo Bassano was born in a town about thirty miles west of Venice. Looking at this piece, a few elements grabbed my eye.
The two most obvious ones were the shape of the boat in the foreground, and the oar on the deck.

Looking back in the history books, many Venetian boats had similar hull-shapes.
Bassano didn't need to look any further than his own lagoon for inspirations in boat design.

And while I have no doubt that most folks look upon this painting and praise Bassano's ability to depict the human foot and leg (and he did do a terrific job of it), but I just can't stop staring at that remo that's resting on the deck.
Sure there are some differences between the 16th Century oar in the painting, and the ones we row on today, but I can't help it.
I want to reach in, grab hold, and row.
I wonder if Jacopo Bassano ever set down his brushes and carved a remo.

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