Venice Carnival Part 1: masquerade and fancy dress

I’ve recently returned from a few days in Venice. It was the period of Carnevale, the Venetian Carnival, which culminates on Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras.

The first contemporary Venetian Carnival took place in 1979. I studied History of Art at Venice’s Ca’Foscari University in the academic year 1979-1980 so was able to immerse myself in the 2nd Venice Carnival in 1980. Here are a couple of pictures of me back  in my Venetian student days dressed up for carnival.

On the right: Catherine Whistler, both images by Albano Rossano Sanavio.

Here are are some images I took at this year’s carnival:

Some of the costumes are incredibly elaborate:

In these photos, the carnival masks reference characters from the Commedia dell’arte, a form of popular theatre which flourishedin the 16th-18th centuries.

The following pictures feature costumes with more contemporary references, channelling icons such as Elvis:

I’m not sure what this one was about, but I liked the home-made creativity of the cardboard coffin complete with wreath and blow-up doll!

Carnival is child friendly:

I particularly like seeing ordinary people, locals or tourists, dressed in their normal gear but with an added touch of glamour or humour as a nod to carnival:

A little touch of carnival – the carnival confetti known as coriandioli can be seen all over this gallery goer’s hair:

My Venetian friends did not dress up for Carnival, but I like this shot I took of my old friend Mario with a mysterious caped man in the background:


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