Luigi Querena was born in Venice in 1824, the son of Lattanzio Querena, an 18th century painter of portraits and religious subjects. Unlike his father, Luigi specialised mainly in Venetian Vedutist painting. He trained at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and made his debut in the lagoon city, probably in 1847 with Veduta della Chiesa dei SS. Giovanni e Paolo. During his career, he participated in numerous Italian exhibitions, especially in the cities of Genoa and Turin, but also Milan, Naples and Florence.
The historic Vedutism of Luigi Querena
“He like Canaletto loves old Venice, he knows it, he knows its varied perspective scenes, and in his works you see all the poetry of the past. And just as he exercises his art as an artist, feels the dignity of the artist and wants art to achieve its great moral aims; so to the perspective scenes that form the principal of his paintings, he combines historical facts or shows the public and private life of the Venetians in every age'.
Luigi Querena took his first steps in the eighteenth-century tradition of Venetian vedute (views) and then renewed it in a personal key, documenting and witnessing also some historical facts that happened in past times or in his present, in a sort of historical romanticism. He played the role of a nineteenth-century reporter and thanks to him, testimonies of the revolutionary uprisings of 1848-49, during which the people of Venice rebelled against the Austrian government, have come down to our days. Luigi Querena in fact dedicated a series of tempera paintings to these important historical events, now kept at the Museo del Risorgimento in Venice, and then some canvases, including Exterior of the battery of S. Antonio in the middle square of the bridge over the lagoon, as it is hit by a bullet, exhibited at the 10th Turin Exhibition in 1851; La via Eugenia in the last days of the bombardment (1849) and Batteria suddetta in defence of the bridge over the lagoon in 1859; in the background you can see the city of Venice, both exhibited at the Milan Exhibition in 1872. Luigi Querena also on other occasions created mixtures between views and historical facts such as The Doge of Venice receiving Queen Caterina Cornaro on the Piazzetta of St. Mark’s on her return from Cyprus in 1486, exhibited at the Genoa Exhibition in 1863; or Hunting Bulls loose in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Festa istituita pel sollazzo della Dogaressa e sue dame d’onore, exhibited at the Genoa Exhibition in 1871.
Technical mastery and painting from life
Luigi Querena is a true master in painting technique, but also in the realistic and naturalistic rendering of the figures, costumes and events depicted, such as bursts of bullets, celebrations, church interiors or city views. Drawing, colour and light work together in unison to bind indissolubly and tell the telling truth of the situations depicted.
Another essential element in Luigi Querena’s compositions is the precision of perspective that characterises them.
The corners of Venice captured in Luigi Querena’s canvases
Venice is his favourite subject and will be immortalised in many of his paintings such as The Giants’ Staircase in Venice exhibited at the XIX Turin Exhibition in 1860; The Pier on Piazzetta di S. Marco in Venice exhibited at the Genoa Exhibition in 1865; Island of S. Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, also exhibited in Genoa in 1867; Sala dell’Archivio del Carmine in Venice exhibited at the Genoa Exhibition in 1868; Interno della chiesa di S. Marco in Venezia exhibited at the National Exhibition in Naples in 1877; or Il Ponte di Rialto e Palazzo Camerlenghi e Sala delle quattro porte, Palazzo Ducale in Venice exhibited at the Genoa Exhibition in 1881.
He would also produce views of other cities such as Interior of the Flavian Amphitheatre known as the Colosseum exhibited in Genoa in 1871, or Interior of the Sacristy of S. Maria di Castello in Genoa and Interior of the Church of S. Maria di Castello in Genoa with which he participated in the Genoa Exhibition in 1865.
Luigi Querena died in Venice in 1877.
Emanuela Di Vivona
 A. Vannucci, Corrispondenze Artistiche, Rivista di Firenze e bulletino delle arti del disegno: pubblicazione mensile di scienze, lettere e arti … Volume 1, Tipografia di G. Mariani, Florence, 1857, p. 310.