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Artwork of the Month - July 2008


The Judgement of Solomon

Artist: Unknown Artist - 18th Century Venetian School
Medium: Oil
Status: Permanent collection
Item No.: GMAG 5882

Venetian Art

By the 14th century Venice had developed into a wealthy trading centre with its own separate Republic, which was able to support and encourage much artistic and architectural activity. Venetian art had a distinctive style of its own. Artists were concerned greatly with light and colour, which led to a style known as 'sfumato' (meaning smoky in Italian).

Later on in the 16th century Venetian art was influenced to a certain degree by the Mannerist style, which was concerned with drama, exaggerated poses and high emotion. Artists such as Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) and Tinteretto (1518-1594) took the drama of the Mannerist style and combined it with the Venetian artist's love of light and colour.

Judgement of Solomon

This month's Artwork of the Month, strongly influenced by the great Mannerist artist Veronese, depicts the 'Judgement of Solomon', a subject matter which lent itself very well to the drama of the Mannerist style.

The Bible mentions King Solomon in both the Old and New Testaments, and ascribes him with having great wisdom. The story of the Judgement of Solomon describes how two prostitutes came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel about which of them was the true mother of a baby (the baby of one of the women had died in the night). Solomon suggested dividing the surviving child in two with a sword. The true mother on hearing this is willing to give up her child rather than have the child killed, revealing herself as the child's real mother.