Venice and Carnival

Throughout all the changes of style in Europe, Venetian painting for several centuries projected a consistent image of prosperity, grandeur and the glory of the Republic where life was celebrated daily in the form of regattas on the lagoon. The pursuit of happiness was practiced by the Venetians relentlessly and a grotesquely clothed government official gave permission for the wearing of the mask during Carnival. Noblemen and beggars, women of the town as well as courtesans and princes, universally wore masks. Most were white others black and a few had long comic noses like Punchinello. Made of silk or velvet they formed part of a mantle, which could be folded back and clipped to the hat when no longer required the carnival reaching its climax in the presence of the Doge and the Signora in their robes of state. The love of carnival became a whole part of the European agenda. It is no surprise today that it has been reinstituted in Venice to give winter tourism a boost. The brilliantly coloured costumes provide a splash of colour on cold grey days, while echoing days gone by.

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