The Piazza san Marco Pierre-Auguste Renoir Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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When Renoir did the Piazza san Marco, he was touring Venice in 1881. He decided to choose a famous site, which was the Cathedral of San Marco.

The original painting is a simple looking like a sketch. It was never refined in a studio. That simplicity shows where art was as at that time. The authenticity of the drawing is not fancy looks, but the effort Renoir put into it. However, the simplicity does not compromise the quality of the painting.

The technique of this drawing is impressionistic. Renoir just loosely used simple strokes, but a bold one. They were of bright colours because Renoir' depiction was the Cathedral gleaming in the sun. The bright colours were also important because of the piazza. It has people walking up and down while the pigeons flutter. The drawing perfectly captures the importance of the impressionistic technique.

The general look and feel of the drawing are of the essence than the actual value. The drawing indicates how unique it is to depict life on canvas. It is suitable for decoration in any room. It could be in the living room, office, study and other rooms. The drawing illuminates whichever room it will be placed.

When Renoir was painting Piazza san Marco, he did not know that it will one day be a popular place. The Piazza means St Mark’s Square. Although Renoir chose it as a famous place at that time, no one knew about its future. Today, the Piazza is a main public square in Venice.

In the drawing, the cathedral was the present St Mark’s Basilica. Many famous artists have captured the Venice landscape across the ages, including William Turner with The Grand Canal Scene a Street in Venice, Monet's Sunset in Venice and John Singer Sargent with multiple watercolours including Boats, Venice, Gondoliers Siesta and On the Canal.

Apart from being a famous place, the Piazza san Marco greatly shows the theme of religion. The Cathedral was a prominent place because religion was important to Venetian in the 1880s. A place of worship deserved excellence. The dominant religion at that time was Christianity, Catholic. It indicates why Venetians built a beautiful and attractive Cathedral as well as the square.

The drawing also includes people and birds. The combination depicts co-existence between animals and people. It also shows that the church accepts everyone without discrimination.

A closer look at the drawing, one will notice that the Cathedral and piazza are in the middle of other buildings. It has been made the centrepiece even in reality. That is another portrayal of how important religion is to Venetians. Religion gives them identity and enables them to define themselves and have a sense of belonging. Although it is not very clear in the drawing, there is an arcade on the left which is quite prestigious. It was rebuilt by Napoleon in 1810.

Looking at the drawing, it portrays architecture in 1881. The painting plays a major role in preserving the memories. Additionally, the drawing may influence people to visit the square in Italy. Looking back at how art has evolved, it makes people appreciate works from Renoirs and other artists. Some of Renoir peers in the art are Pissarro, Monet, Degas, and Cezanne among others. Renoir has also done other paintings that are popular. Due to his interesting work, the official Salon in Paris approved Renoir work for exhibition.