Pietro della Vecchia

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Socrates and Two Students

Pietro della Vecchia (1603 – 8 September 1678) was an Italian painter also known as Pietro Muttoni.


Born in Vicenza, he likely trained with Alessandro Varotari, called Padovanino, deriving a notable interest in Venetian masters such as Titian and Giorgione. Until 1984, he was mistakenly referred to as Pietro Muttoni. This misnomer is attributed to Italian art historian and archaeologist, Luigi Lanzi who in his Storia pittorica della Italia confused the name of the artist with the name of a collection, Muttoni, in which he had seen one of his paintings. In fact, Pietro was from the well known Venetian family of della Vecchia.

Renowned among his contemporaries for his ability to imitate the styles of 16th-century masters, he was also known for his grotesque paintings and portraiture. His earliest known works, two representations of St Francis, which have survived in many versions (e.g. Galleria Estense, Modena; Accademia Concordi, Rovigo), and a Crucifixion (1633; San Lio, Venice) are so heavily influenced by Carlo Saraceni and his follower Jean Leclerc as to suggest that della Vecchia trained with them. Certain Caravaggesque elements remained in his work, suggest that he spent some time in Rome after Leclerc had left Venice, in 1621 or 1622. The influence of Padovanino is only noticeable in dated works from 1635 onwards. Della Vecchia probably worked in Padovanino's studio c. 1625-6, after his trip to Rome, and from the latter he derived his great interest in 16th-century painting in Venice and the Veneto.

His monumental Crucifixion (1637; Fondazion Cini, Venice), in which the composition harks back to the 16th century while the figures derive from Caravaggio, is characteristic of this phase. Around 1640 the influence of Strozzi is apparent in the Angel Offering a Skull to St Giustina, who stands between St Joseph and St John (1640; Accademia, Venice) painted for the church of San Giustina. From 1640 to 1673 the design of the mosaic cartoons for the St. Mark's Basilica. He painted four idyllic landscapes that presage Rococo style (now in Pinacoteca Querini-Stampalia). He married Clorinda Renieri, daughter of Nicolas Régnier, Flemish painter and art dealer. Della Vecchia died in Venice, September 1678.


  • B. Aikema; Pietro Della Vecchia and the Heritage of the Renaissance in Venice, Florence, 1984
  • "Life of Pietro Della Vecchia" Libarts.com