VENICE, Italy (AP) — When most people think of “carpaccio,” they think of the thinly sliced raw beef appetizer made famous by Venice’s iconic Harry’s Bar. Few people know that the dish is named after a lesser-known Venetian, Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, due to the intense red hues he favored.
Carpaccio, the painter, has recently attracted attention outside of his native Venice. In November, the National Gallery in Washington opened the first retrospective exhibition of his work outside Italy. The show, “Vittore Carpaccio: Master Storyteller of Renaissance Venice,” is set to move to the showcase of Venice’s Palazzo Ducale on March 18.
The Washington exhibit includes two paintings by Carpaccio which, after restoration, left Venice for the first time in more than 500 years.
“At first we were a bit hesitant, because letting these masterpieces leave their natural habitat is always a risk,” said Piergiorgio Millich, the institution’s top keeper who boasts of having more Carpaccios under his belt. the same roof they were originally ordered for. than elsewhere.
But after art curator Valentina Piovan analyzed the works and undertook a year-long restoration, she convinced the institution that the canvases were safe to make the journey.
Piovan is currently working on the restoration of several other Carpaccios at the headquarters of the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni fraternity, which was founded in 1451 by a group of Venetians as a social center providing medical and spiritual support to members – mainly sailors of the Republic. Naval fleet. When the fleet defeated the Ottomans in the Turco-Venetian Wars, they were paid handsomely.
As a result, they were able to hire one of the most eminent Venetian painters of his time, Carpaccio, to paint a series of paintings dedicated to St. George, the legendary figure who slew a dragon, saved a princess and convinced the Selenites to convert to Christianity.
In the first painting of the cycle “Saint George and the Dragon”, a masterpiece more than three meters long, Carpaccio paints the saint on horseback with his spear thrust into the mouth of the dragon and the ground strewn with body parts partially devoured humans. The princess, dressed in a red ‘carpaccio’ dress, clasps her hands in gratitude as she watches the scene from a rocky outcrop above.
It’s classic Carpaccio, a combination of narrative storytelling and attention to detail.
And it was clearly an inspiration to Giuseppe Cipriani, the Venetian restaurateur and owner of Harry’s Bar, who invented a dish named after the painter in the 1950s. According to the official history of Harry’s Bar, Cipriani had a customer , Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo, whose doctors had prescribed a strict diet without cooked meat.
Cipriani came up with a dish of sliced raw beef with a mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce sauce, and named it after the painter in part because of its resemblance to his favorite reds that were on display in Venice at the era.
“I think people are starting to appreciate paintings, Venetian paintings, from the very beginning of the 16th century, and also maybe learning where the word carpaccio comes from,” said Melissa Conn, director of the Venice office of Save Venice. , an American association that provided $400,000 for the restoration of several works by Carpaccio.