Venice is a city from another time, and perhaps even from another world. Seeming to exist in sheer defiance of the intrusion of rising sea levels, sinking pilings, floods of tourists and the looming mountains of monstrous cruise ships, Venice is a shimmering mirage of transcendent beauty, an example of what’s possible when a city is built with as much of an eye to beauty as to commerce.
Unsurprisingly, artists have for centuries been drawn to this island realm of visual delights, entranced by the vision of its builders, and steeping themselves in the triumphs of the great Venetian painters of the Renaissance.
In the 19th century, in particular — a time when European and American artists traveled more broadly than ever before — Venice became a not to be missed destination for artists, who strove to capture its magic in paint, ink, pastel and other mediums.
In my own brief experience in Venice — my wife and I spent a scant three days there before going on to Florence — it’s easy to see why artists were not only drawn there, but often stayed for a considerable time, or returned again and again to bask in the inspiration and challenge of the city’s rare beauty.
In an attempt to put together a few of the many examples of artists’ interpretations of Venice, I found myself overwhelmed by too many beautiful works. I’ve selected a few that I hope represent some of the variety of approaches and crammed them into a couple of posts.
[Images above (links to my articles): Canaletto (with detail), Eugenio Lucas Velázquez, Martin Rico (with detail), Claude Monet, Richard Parkes Bonington (with detail)]