Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


Helena Szepe

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This paper examines the painting titled The Exhibition of a Rhinoceros (1751) by the Venetian artist Pietro Longhi and its context within the art patronage of the Venetian patrician Giovanni Grimani ai Servi. Study of the decline of Venice‟s political power during the eighteenth century, the lineage of rhinoceros imagery begun by the famous Renaissance German artist, Albrecht Dürer, and Italian collecting practices of naturalia influenced by the sixteenth century natural scientist, Ulisse Aldrovandi, were factors in the development of the thesis. Previously, many art historians have interpreted The Exhibition of a Rhinoceros as representing the "spectacle" of Venetian Carnival. This paper argues that the artist, Longhi, used compositional strategies to place himself within an artistic lineage tied to Dürer, and examines how The Exhibition of a Rhinoceros was meant to elevate the status of the collector, Grimani.