Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

Charlatans and Carnival in Venice

by Pietro Longhi - 1701(2)-1785

Pietro Longhi, in his serial paintings including masked Carnival people, proposes here a couple of fine examples of the Charlatan, or Mountebank.

With his ever raised hand offering the miraculous Elixir and the Dentist - better call him Tooth Puller, those were the times.

As is usual in Longhi's paintings, along with the ever present Carnival masks, we see normal people, not noble, maybe presented witha little satyrical eye, but everyday people all the same.

Ironic presences to be noticed in the paintings:

  • the monkey behind the Charlatan head
  • in the Dentist painting, the little kid in the center holding a tissue in his mouth (he has very likely been the one loosing his tooth ...)
  • the midget lady asking for charity.

Silent public to the main Carnival participants.

Pietro Longhi: Il Ciarlatano - oil on canvas (1757)
Pietro Longhi: Il Ciarlatano (The Charlatan)
oil on canvas (1757) - Ca' Rezzonico, Venezia


Pietro Longhi: "Il Cavadenti" - oil on canvas (ca. 1750)
Pietro Longhi: "Il Cavadenti" (The Tooth Puller)
oil on canvas (ca. 1750) - Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano

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