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A doge (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdɔːdʒe]; plural dogi or doges) was an elected, chief-of-state lordship, the ruler of the republic in many of the Italian city-states during the medieval and renaissance periods, in the Italian "crowned republics".
The word is from a Venetian word that descends from the Latin dux (as do the English duke and the standard Italian duce and duca), meaning "leader", especially in a military context. The wife of a doge is styled a dogaressa.
The title of doge was used for the elected chief of state in a number of Italian "crowned republics". The two best known such republics were Venice (where he was sometimes called a Doxe) and Genoa (where he was called a Duxe pr. /dyːʒe/ ), which rivalled each other, and the other regional great powers, by building their historical city-states into maritime, commercial, and territorial mini-empires.
In several writings of Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionism, he proposed that the future Jewish State take the title of "Doge" for its head of state – but this was not taken up by the actual state of Israel.
Venice, especially during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, was a major centre of art and developed a unique style known as the Venetian School. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Venice, along with Florence and Rome, became one of the most important centres of art in Europe, and numerous wealthy Venetians became patrons of the arts. Venice at the time was a rich and prosperous maritime republic, which controlled a vast sea and trade empire. In the 16th century, Venetian painting was developed through influences from the Paduan School and Antonello da Messina, who introduced the oil painting technique of the van Eyck brothers. It is signified by a warm colour scale and a picturesque use of colour. Early masters were the Bellini and Vivarini families, followed by Giorgione and Titian, then Tintoretto and Veronese. In the early 16th century, also, there was rivalry between whether Venetian painting should use disegno or colorito. This is the main reason why there is a huge number[clarification needed] of paintings left depicting the different doges of Venice, while there are only a few of the doges of Genoa and Amalfi.
Francesco Foscari, Doge of Venice by Lazzaro Bastiani
Portrait of Giovanni Mocenigo, Doge of Venice by Gentile Bellini
Pasquale Malipiero, Doge of Venice portrayed by Gentile Bellini
Portrait of Antonio Grimani 1434–1523 Doge of Venice by Domenico Tintoretto
Portrait of Pietro Lando (Doge of Venice from 1538 to 1545) by Domenico Tintoretto
Portrait of Francesco Venier Doge of Venice by Titian
Sebastiano Venier at the Battle of Lepanto, Doge of Venice from 11 June 1577 to 3 March 1578, painting by Tintoretto
Portrait of Nicolò da Ponte (1491–1585), the eighty-seventh Doge of Venice, by Palma Giovane
Portrait of Doge Marino Grimani Doge of Venice (1532–1605) by Domenico Tintoretto