Venetian Views: Canaletto to Stieglitz

Venice has been painted and described many thousands of times, and of all the cities of the word is the easiest to visit without going there. Everyone has been there, and everyone has brought back a collection of photographs.

–Henry James, 1882

This selection of Venetian views from the early eighteenth through the early twentieth century reveals a rich variety of approaches to the portrayal of this fascinating city through the mediums of etching, watercolor, and photography. Seemingly suspended between sea and sky, Venice has long been a "must-see" destination for tourists–now numbering more than twenty million a year– and a magnet for artists seeking to capture the alluring interplay of architecture, light, and water. Although recognizable buildings appear in the backgrounds of sixteenth-century religious paintings, it is not until the eighteenth century and the phenomenon of the Grand Tour–the prerequisite "gap year" spent traveling on the Continent for young British aristocrats–that a market developed for full-fledged wide-angled views or "vedute" of the city itself, either in paintings or in less expensive etchings, which like snapshots, could be preserved in albums. While many artists, including Thomas Moran, continued to focus on the principal monuments, others such as James McNeill Whistler and Alfred Stieglitz preferred to cast their lens on the obscure views offered by Venice's labyrinth of alleys and back canals.

  • 8924
    Canaletto, Italian, 1697–1768
    Piazza San Marco with the Procuratie Nuove and San Geminiano, ca. 1740
  • 5555
    Canaletto, Italian, 1697–1768
    House, ca. 1741
  • 3711
    Canaletto, Italian, 1697–1768
    House with the Peristyle, ca. 1741
  • 2932
    Michele Giovanni Marieschi, Italian, 1710–1743
    No. 2. Ducal Palace, from Canal, from Magnificentiores Selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus, Venice: 1741
    x1938-12 b
  • 13457
    James McNeill Whistler, American, 1834–1903
    The Doorway, 1879–80
  • 13476
    James McNeill Whistler, American, 1834–1903
    Published by Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell
    The Balcony, 1879–80, published 1886
  • 125772
    James McNeill Whistler, American, 1834–1903
    The Little Venice, 1879–1880
  • 11406
    Thomas Moran, American, 1837–1926
    Venice: The Lagoon Looking toward Santa Maria della Salute, 1894
  • 15717
    Carlo Ponti, Italian, 1823–1893
    Lion Sculpture, Arsenal, Venice, ca. 1865
  • 13629
    Gertrude Käsebier, American, 1852–1934
    Baron de Meyer's Palace, Venice, 1905
  • 10571
    Sir Muirhead Bone, British, 1876–1953
    Canal and Bridge of SS. Apostoli, Venice, 1916
  • 14365
    Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1864–1946
    Reflections – Venice, 1894, printed 1897
    x1982-22 l
  • 11007
    James McBey, British, 1883–1959
    Venetian Night, 1925
  • 18845
    Henri Berssenbrugge, Dutch, 1873 - 1959
    Venice, 1934