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Italian, Venetian, A Naval Battle

Key facts
Full title A Naval Battle
Artist Italian, Venetian
Date made about 1580
Medium and support Oil on panel
Dimensions 17.1 × 38.9 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3108
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Naval Battle
Italian, Venetian

This is one of a series of five paintings that decorated furniture or wall panelling. The subjects are all military and they may have been painted for the entrance hall of a Venetian palace, where arms and armour were often exhibited.

Foot soldiers are gathered before tents, and a soldier in blue appears to be reporting to a mounted soldier in yellow. In the middle distance, infantry are massed in battle formation. Galleys are being rowed out towards a naval battle and soldiers on the right hurry into a rowing boat.

The other paintings in the series, all in private collections, feature soldiers in ancient Roman costume but with sixteenth-century helmets, lances and swords. In two of the paintings warriors are dressed in long robes and turbans like Ottoman Turks, the chief opponents of Venetian power at that time. The paintings are perhaps not intended to represent specific historical battles, but merely general scenes of warfare.

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