Renaissance Venice: Drawings from the Morgan
May 18 through December 23, 2012

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Venice's mainland possessions, called the terraferma, stretched westward from Udine nearly all the way to Milan and included Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, and Bergamo. These Venetian strongholds ensured a continuous food supply and safeguarded trading routes to the north. Even though Venice's enemies combined to form the League of Cambrai and defeated the city in 1509, much of the mainland territory was recovered within a decade.

Venice's political independence and unified territories allowed artists considerable mobility. Some preferred to return to their native cities in Lombardy, Friuli, or the Veneto, where they established flourishing workshops. Distinctive local traditions—such as the realism of the Lombard painters of Bergamo and Brescia—also endured. The Veneto area in particular served as a country retreat for Venice's patrician families, who erected idyllic villas in the classical tradition designed by Andrea Palladio.