Pietro Antonio Novelli

Painter engraver and Italian poet he was born in Venice on the 7th September 1729 and died on 14th January 1804. He was the son of Francesco, a Treviso nobleman and of Caterina Pedrini. His father died and he had as his tutor Fr Pietro Antornio Toni who introduced him to painting but also to literature and harpsichord studies. He modelled himself on the great Venetian tradition , old masters such as Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Gaspare Diziani. In 1773 he stayed in Bologna and in 1779 in Rome, where contacts with neoclassicism made his style more composite but probably less imaginative. In the numerous frescoes and altarpieces there are also elements of the Venetian rococo, influenced by his frequenting Jacopo Amigoni. He painted works depicting the Saints Peter and Paul and the Holy Trinity for the Arcipretal Church of Levada of Piombino Dese as well as illustrating the Goldonian comedies edited by Zatta ( 1788-95). He also experimented with panegyrical and dialectical poetry while his autobiographical memories and pictorial letters are in prose form.

The myth of Andromeda and Perseus

Andromeda’s misfortunes began on the day her mother claimed to be more beautiful than the Nereids , a group of particularly seductive marine nymphs. These, offended, decided that Cassiopeia’s vanity had exceeded all limits and asked Poseidon, the god of the sea, to give her a lesson. For a punishment, Poseidon sent a terrible monster (some even say a flood) to raid the coasts of King Cefeo’s territory. Astonished at the devastation, with his subjects demanding his reaction, the besieged Cefeo turned to the Ammon Oracle to find a solution. He was told that to silence the monster he had to sacrifice his virgin daughter: Andromeda. So here, then, the innocent Andromeda was chained to a rocky coast to expiate the sins of her mother, who from the shore watched remorse fully. According to the legend, this event occurred on the Mediterranean coast, at Joppa (Jaffa), modern Tel Aviv. As Andromeda was chained to the cliff beaten by the swirling waves , white with terror and in tears on account of her imminent end Perseus, the hero, turned up fresh from having decapitated Medusa the Gorgon. His heart seized by the sight of that fragile beauty in the grip of anguish. Perseus asked her her name and why she was chained there. Andromeda, completely different from her vain mother , at first, on account of her shyness, did not even reply. Even though she was awaiting a horrible death in the foaming jaws of the monster she would have preferred, to modestly hide her face in her hands if they had not been chained to the rock. Perseus continued to question her. In the end, fearing that her silence could be interpreted as an admission of guilt, she told him her story which she suddenly interrupted screaming out in terror at the sight of the monster moving in the waves and moving towards her. Pausing a moment to ask Andromeda’s parents to give him the hand of the girl in marriage, Perseus threw himself against the monster, killed him with his sword, released the enraptured Andromeda and made her his bride.

Permanent exhibition