Pietro della Vecchia

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Socrates and Two Students

Pietro della Vecchia, also sometimes known as Pietro Muttoni, (1603 – 8 September 1678) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period.


Born in Vicenza, he likely trained with Alessandro Varotari, called il 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.

Known 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 include 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). These paintings 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 after 1635. 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; Fondazione Cini, Venice) has a composition that harks back to the mannerist works of the 16th century, while the figures derive from Caravaggio, is characteristic of this phase in his style. By 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 he painted designs for some the mosaic depictions inside the St. Mark's Basilica. He painted four idyllic landscapes that presage Rococo style (now in Pinacoteca Querini-Stampalia). A painting depicting Saint Mark Evangelist, attributed to della Vecchia, is displayed in the Mykolas Zilinskas Art Museum.

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